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Harborfields school board puts off Pickle Park vote

Photo of the park behind Harborfields Public Library

Photo of the park behind Harborfields Public Library in Greenlawn on the afternoon of Feb. 9, 2014. The Harborfields school district, which owns the property, is considering selling the land. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Harborfields school board has tabled a vote to hire a real estate agent to help in the sale of a park it owns.

District Superintendent Diana Todaro said at a school board meeting Tuesday the board decided to pull the resolution from its agenda because of so much "passion" from some district residents who do not want Library -- or Pickle -- Park sold to a developer.

"We're here to listen to the community," Todaro said at Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn.

Pickle Park has been the focus of a recent campaign by some residents to remove some basketball hoops installed in spring 2012 because of noise and other quality of life issues.

The complaints got the board thinking about the park's maintenance costs. The 1 1/2-acre parcel behind the Harborfields Public Library in Greenlawn costs about $20,000 a year for things like security, mowing, repairs and garbage removal.

The board was considering three options: continue to manage the park; hire a real estate agent and sell it to a developer; or get the town to buy it.

School board president Thomas McDonagh, reading from a statement, said it would be irresponsible of the board not to investigate all options to determine how the park can be best utilized for the district.

"Members of the board of ed are charged by law with the responsibility of being good stewards of school district resources in determining how best to use district resources to further the education of children," he said.

Many residents hope the town buys the plot through the Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Fund. The district applied to the program in the fall.

Todaro said the estimated sale price of the parcel is $999,000. She said the next step is to schedule a meeting with Town Supervisor Frank Petrone to discuss the town possibly buying the park.

About a dozen residents addressed the board at the meeting, all in favor of the district managing or the town purchasing the parcel.

Michael Jennings, 7, dressed in a Cub Scouts uniform, got the biggest applause. "This park keeps kids from watching too much TV," he said.


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