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Mangano announces $15M plan to improve county parks

Karl Thomsen of Levittown catches during a pickup

Karl Thomsen of Levittown catches during a pickup softball game at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. (March 7, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau County will build at least 10 new ballfields, several new playgrounds and install modern lighting in all county parks, County Executive Edward Mangano said Tuesday.

Mangano fleshed out his plans after saying in his inaugural State of the County speech Monday night he had sweeping plans for improving county parks.

"Our parks have too often been used to serve private interests rather than those of the taxpayers. That time is over," he said during his Monday speech.

The county executive said Tuesday there would be upgrades to existing bathrooms, new miniature golf courses would be laid out, and new batting cages would be installed - all as part of a $15-million capital spending plan for parks.

A Mangano spokeswoman said the $15 million came from $4 million not spent last year, $7.4 million in this year's 2010 capital plan, and $3.25 million that will be added to the capital plan.

Some park advocates said Tuesday that they were pleased with Mangano's speech, but wanted more details on his plans for the parks.

"They're paying attention to parks, and that's good," said Richard Schary of North Bellmore. "Beyond that, I don't know." Schary, a member of the county's Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee, said that he has not been informed of the administration's plan for county parks.

Bruce Piel of Wantagh, chairman of the Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau, said he met Tuesday with Parks Commissioner Carnell Foskey, and came away with very little sense of Mangano's plans. "They're talking about a summer recreation program, perhaps with a day-care component," Piel said. "On the face of it, we don't have a problem with it as long as it does not involve private operators, as long as it's county-run."

In recent years, the county had been moving toward privatization of parkland by proposing to lease tennis courts to private operators, turning over part of Cedar Creek Park for use as an amusement park, and planning to transfer 4 acres of the Roosevelt Preserve to the owners of a private day camp.

"In the last four years, a multitude of outside private entities - day camps, sports leagues and soccer clinics - were reaping personal benefits at the expense of the county taxpayer," Mangano said. "They paid minimal permit fees to the county and took in a lot of money in revenues by charging residents. We're going to do our own programs at the parks now."


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