New Suffolk’s long-languishing school ball field will get some sprucing up this summer, in the hopes of attracting Little League games back to this sleepy North Fork hamlet, but the renovation of the ball field has left the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund with few options left for parking for their special events.
The field hasn’t been used for organized games for nearly half a decade, and Little League and T-Ball organizers say it needs new bases, a pitcher’s mound, baselines and some topsoil to fill in ruts before it can be used for organized ball games.
The New Suffolk Civic Association has stepped up to the plate to organize the renovation of the field, which is owned by the New Suffolk Common School District. They also plan to make the field more user-friendly for other sports and recreational activities for the community, including kite flying, soccer, lacrosse and bocce ball.
They’re also planning to install a low rail fence around the perimeter of the ball field, which will no longer be used for overflow parking for the Waterfront Fund’s events.
The Waterfront Fund sold the southernmost acre of its property, which had been used for overflow parking, to the owners of Robins Island two years ago, and now is facing few options for where to park cars for its special events in a community that has continued to be hotly divided over the non-profit group’s ongoing work to renovate the Galley Ho restaurant on their property.
The Southold Town Board considered a request to use the town beach parking area for overflow parking for the Waterfront Fund’s “Happy Hour at the Waterfront” fundraiser on July 18, but just two weeks after the board refused to allow Greenport Harbor Brewing Company to use a town-owned lot for a blues and barbecue festival last weekend, board membres weren’t keen on the idea of straying from their policy of not allowing the use of public parking lots for private events.
“It’s basically the use of town property by a private entity. It’s still a private entity, whether it’s a non-profit or not,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell at the town board’s June 29 work session.
Nearly a dozen opponents of the Waterfront Fund’s plans arrived at the fast-moving meeting to hear the board’s decision, but it had already been discussed and disapproved of before they arrived. No one from the Waterfront Fund was there.
“They have a site plan. They can do what they want on their own property,” said Councilman Jim Dinizio. “They have a marina. They have a restaurant. They should have room for parking for events they want to have. In New Suffolk, the biggest complaint is parking.”
Councilwoman Jill Doherty, who lives in New Suffolk, pointed out that the event, which is early on a Saturday evening, is at a time when beachgoers have usually already filled the beach parking lot.
“At that beach, people are there until dark,” she said. “Since they [the Waterfront Fund] started their site plan, the parking on First Street is just horrendous.”
Not long after their site plan was approved by Southold’s planning board, the Waterfront Fund installed wooden posts along their property line, making it difficult for cars that had parked head-in, half on the town road and half on the Waterfront Fund’s property, to continue to park there.
Ms. Doherty said the town highway department is considering installing “parallel parking only” signs along that stretch of First Street.
Mr. Russell said the town police chief is also concerned with public safety at the event, which will be held on the Waterfront Fund’s property in the midst of the reconstruction of the Galley Ho restaurant.
“The chief also has huge concerns down there,” he said.
Councilman Bob Ghosio said he’s not sure if the impact of the town saying no to the use of the parking lot will be a positive one.
“They’re going to have the event either way,” he said. “If we say no to the overflow parking, where is it going to go?”