For the past three months, the New Suffolk Civic Association and New Suffolk Waterfront Fund have tried to come to a compromise about how to share the school district’s renovated ballfield.
They couldn’t agree.
“Unfortunately, such an agreement hasn’t been forthcoming,” said New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill at last Tuesday’s school board meeting.
So at that meeting, Mr. Dill announced the board members — who approved the renovations last month — would set the policy themselves.
Mr. Dill said the board had drafted the guidelines with a lawyer after negotiations between the civic group and the waterfront fund failed. The board will approve the final guidelines at its next meeting in August.
Mr. Dill said the ballfield has been a school-owned property for centuries. It’s been used for school needs, for organized and recreational activities and even for animals to graze in over the years, he said.
“This slowly evolving mix of uses never resulted in any community disputes, so there was never a reason for the school board to get involved with the property,” he said.
But the pattern has changed in recent years.
With the ballfield set to be upgraded, groups are now seeking to use the property for their “personal desires,” Mr. Dill said, causing “increasingly bitter divisions within the village” and prompting the board to take action.
Under the proposed guidelines, events at the ballfield will be separated into three categories: uses the school board always permits, uses the school board never permits and uses that require special permission from the board.
Among the uses always permitted by the district are use by residents for informal or leisure activities, use by residents as a place of refuge for cars during storm emergencies, use by nonprofit organizations to hold events that benefit school programs and use of the baseball diamond by the Mattituck-Cutchogue Little League, according to the proposed guidelines.
Uses not permitted include smoking or consuming alcohol on the property, anything that would result in increased property maintenance costs for the school, parking cars or using the property after “natural darkness,” according to the proposal.
Events that will “clearly benefit the larger New Suffolk community,” ones that require setting up tables and tents, formal athletic events other than those held by Mattituck-Cutchogue Little League, and events that involve amplified sound require special permission from the board.
The full proposed guidelines are available through the school secretary.
Mr. Dill encouraged residents to make suggestions about the guidelines. Meanwhile, work on the ballfield has officially begun.