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Hempstead Town to buy ballfields for year-round access

The Hempstead Town Board has approved plans to acquire the Cherry Valley Ballfields from the Village of Garden City to give baseball and softball leagues year-round access to play.

The town board voted unanimously Tuesday to issue as much as $3.625 million in serial bonds to purchase the 3.75-acre property on Cherry Valley Avenue. The town has leased the fields for about 30 years, paying $23,000 a year to use them from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31.

Taxes would increase about $19 or $20 a year for the duration of the 16-year term of the bond with a projected interest cost of between 2 percent and 2.5 percent, town and village officials said.

The Garden City Board of Trustees on Monday voted 7-0 to approve selling the property to the town, village spokesman Carisa Giardino said.

"I think it is a great improvement for the Franklin Square Park District," which will manage the fields, Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said Tuesday. "The little leagues there have been playing there since the '50s. . . . It would be ours forever and a benefit for the residents and the children of Franklin Square."

The town's purchase of the fields would result in their exclusive use and year-round availability for town residents. Under town ownership, new sports and activities may take place at the facility, which includes a baseball, a softball and a T-ball field.

Frequent town critic Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square, objected to purchasing the fields with bonds because the information about renting the property and the potential cost to the taxpayers wasn't disclosed to the public before the hearing.

"How could I decide whether this is a good price when I don't even know what the rents are because you didn't tell us?" Procacci said at the town board meeting.

"That's part of the notification of letting people know what is going on, so that we can have 100 Franklin Square residents here and not just me."

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly said the Garden City Board of Trustees on Monday voted unanimously to approve selling the property to the town. One board member was absent during that vote.

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