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Huntington agrees to take over Pickle Park maintenance

Huntington Town officials have agreed to take over

Huntington Town officials have agreed to take over maintenance of a Greenlawn park from the Harborfields school district. The park, behind Harborfields Public Library, commonly known as Pickle Park, is pictured on Feb. 9, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Huntington Town officials have agreed to take over maintenance of a Greenlawn park from the Harborfields school district.

The 1 1⁄2-acre parcel behind the Harborfields Public Library on Broadway has been maintained by the district for decades. While the park is named Library Park, it’s commonly called as Pickle Park.

School officials over the past few years considered selling the park as costs to maintain it rose and neighbors complained about the quality-of-life issues they said it creates.

Town board members on Tuesday voted 5 to 0 to enter into an agreement with the district to retain the parcel as a park, with the town maintaining it. The town also approved spending as much as $200,000 to share with the district the cost of buying and installing accessible playground equipment, a sidewalk and walkways at the park.

“We made the offer to the district that we would be willing to maintain it as a park if they own the property,” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. “The community wants to make sure it remains a community pocket park and this seemed like the best arrangement for the time being.”

The park is behind a former school that was deeded to the library district in 1976. The library was not legally allowed to manage a park, so the library district retained the land behind the building that had been used as a playground.

The installation of basketball hoops in April 2012 triggered complaints from nearby residents and calls to police with reports of marijuana smoking, drinking and other disturbances. In 2013 school district officials assigned a security guard additional hours to patrol the park, bringing the annual cost of maintaining the site to about $20,000.

That same year school district officials applied to the town’s Environmental Open Space and Park Fund Advisory Committee to consider selling the park property.

District superintendent Francesco Ianni said in a statement issued Wednesday that he was pleased with the maintenance agreement, calling Pickle Park “a valuable educational and social resource for the community.”

Pickle Park gets its nickname from students who named it as part of a contest years ago. The pickle industry thrived in Greenlawn from the 1870s through 1940s. The hamlet was the home of Samuel Ballton, a former slave turned businessman who became known as the Pickle King for producing and selling 1.5 million pickles in a season in 1899.

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