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Huntington park plan divides community

Sheila Harris, who has lived in the neighborhood

Sheila Harris, who has lived in the neighborhood across from the proposed park since 1963 and recently started a petition in its support. Sheila, along with neighborhood parents and kids, pose in front of the unused parcel of land. (Oct. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

After more than a decade of inactivity, Huntington Town officials are making plans for a park along Broadway Greenlawn Road -- a proposal that has split the community.

Some residents who live in a 12-year-old development near the park site say they don't need another park. But longtime residents in an older neighborhood closest to the proposed Coral Park want to know why the town has taken so long to follow through on its promise.

In 1993, the town comprehensive plan identified the area as underserved by parks. When a developer in the late 1990s started a neighborhood of two-story homes on Timber Ridge Drive, a small park was built. About two years later, another developer finished the subdivision, donating a 1½-acre lot for Coral Park. The town planning board requires a donation of land for a park or a cash equivalent from a builder of a new housing development.

Huntington's Environmental Open Space and Park Fund Review Advisory Committee appropriated $300,000 for Coral Park in the late 1990s.

"This was promised to the community," said Sheila Harris, who has lived in the neighborhood across from the proposed park since 1963 and recently started a petition in its support. "Our children and grandchildren are playing in the streets. Cars come through speeding. There is no place for the kids, no place for the elderly."

Town spokesman A.J. Carter said other new or renovated parks were priorities because of their regional nature that attracts sports leagues, offers diverse recreation and serves many residents.

Some residents of Timber Ridge say another park isn't needed and the town doesn't adequately manage two existing parks in the area.

"If the Town of Huntington can't maintain or properly patrol the small park near my house, how is the town going to manage this larger facility?" asked Alison Krivoshey, a Timber Ridge resident. "We don't need another poorly managed eyesore in this neighborhood."

Town board member Glenda Jackson, who lives near the Coral Park site, sought input from residents closest to the proposed park and met with a civic group that includes Timber Ridge residents.

"There is a need because that community doesn't have any active parks," Jackson said. "But we're in the process of fact-finding to see what's most appropriate and what's most needed and desired by everyone in the community."

Carter said that if the park is built with the $300,000 already appropriated, and is done by the town's list of approved vendors, no board action is needed. But if additional funding is needed, or if the decision is made to issue a request for proposals or a bid for the contractor to do the work, the town board would have to vote to award the contract.

"Why wouldn't they want to give us a park?" Harris asked. "It would give the kids and the parents a lift to have a place to go in their neighborhood."

PARK UPGRADES
The proposed Coral Park would be a neighborhood park. Since 2003, Huntington has built or upgraded several regional parks, including:

Breezy Park, Oakwood Road and West Rogues Path, Huntington Station. A new facility for soccer, lacrosse and football completed this spring; grand opening was Sunday.

Veterans Sports Complex, Bellerose Avenue, East Northport. Upgrades include Long Island's first concrete bowl skate park and a boundless playground; completed in 2010.

Greenlawn Park, Pulaski Road, Cuba Hill Road and Broadway Greenlawn roads. A new skate park; completed in 2004.

Manor Field Park, East Fifth Street, Huntington Station. Renovated with all-weather synthetic fields; completed in 2008.

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