Kevin Kavanaugh of Northport opposes expanding the basketball court at Cow...

Kevin Kavanaugh of Northport opposes expanding the basketball court at Cow Harbor Park but supports the beautification part of the project. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Northport Village officials are reassessing beautification plans for a basketball court at Cow Harbor Park due to loss of key funding, the mayor said.

Mayor Donna Koch said officials are going back to the drawing board after the Town of Huntington’s Environmental Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee fund denied a $200,000 request for masonry and landscaping upgrades. Koch said the village was counting on that money. 

Construction bids for the project also came in at $336,000, Koch said, adding the village only has about $122,550 from a state grant and public donations. 

“We do plan to move ahead with the project,” Koch said. “But we are now working on ways to reduce the scope of the project, given rising costs.”

A new application with scaled back masonry and landscaping plans will be submitted by the end of the year, Koch said.

Koch said village officials did not have a cost estimate for the project, which also includes expanding the court from its current 53-by-40 feet to 66-by-50 feet. That part remains on track, Koch said.

The basketball court project will be separated into two phases, Koch said. The first would replace the court, nets and fencing, covered by a $75,000 state grant from the State and Municipal Facilities Grant. 

The second phase would upgrade the masonry and landscaping around the court, using town open-space money. The village leases the parcel for the park from the town. The site is a former LILCO facility. 

At the Sept. 14 meeting of the open-space committee, Northport resident Doug Trani and Chris Wiebke of Westchester, both members of Northport High School’s 1995 Long Island Champion Boys Basketball team, and village trustee Meghan Dolan outlined that the funds would go toward phase two.

Seven members of the 11-member committee were present at the meeting. Five voted in favor of approving the funding. Kevin Lyons and Lisa Brieff voted against the motion, which needed six votes to pass.

Lyons could not be reached for comment and Brieff hung up the phone when asked about her vote.

Town Supervisor Ed Smyth said the two committee members who voted against the measure requested more information on the project's details.

Koch said she hopes to start the project in the spring.

Trani and Wiebke and some of their other teammates proposed the court renovation in 2021. They started a fundraising campaign, raising $65,600.

Kevin Kavanaugh, a Northport resident for five years, was among four people who spoke against the project at the September meeting. He said he'd like the courts to be refurbished but opposes the expansion plan. He said it’d be too expensive and will have a negative environmental impact, including the removal of trees.

He started a petition with 130 signatures asking village officials not to expand the basketball court and that no trees be cut down. It also requests a plan with a final cost before any work begins. 

“We like our park the way it is,” he said. “It’s not an athletic field; people come here to walk their dogs, drink coffee and have lunch. We don’t want a big, giant basketball court.”

He also has concerns about a soil analysis the village conducted at the proposed renovation. Koch said there was a petroleum odor detected below the surface of the court but there is no concern for human exposure.

Village trustee Ernest Pucillo said he will ask the state Department of Conservation to look into the matter.

"We need to look to make sure the ground is not contaminated or even a Superfund site," Pucillo said. 

In July 2022, the village board approved a plan to expand the court from its current 53-by-40 feet to 66-by 50-feet and for upgrades.

Wiebke said he respects the opinion of those who don’t support the plan.

“But I would ask that they consider that there are others who use the park differently,” Wiebke said. “People will still be able to walk their dog and have a sandwich — it’ll just be prettier.”

Court Time 

2021 Members of Northport High School’s 1995 Long Island Champion Boys Basketball team approach the village about renovating the basketball court at Cow Harbor Park.

Public fundraising campaign begins

2022 After a compromise, the village and team members agree to expand the court to include a three-point line, but still smaller than a high school court

Construction bids go out

2023 Request to the Town of Huntington’s Environmental Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee for $200,000 for the beautification aspect of the project is rejected.

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