The Merrick Union Free School District has reached an agreement with the Merrick-North Merrick Little League following a dispute over a ballfield sign honoring a local foundation.
At the June school board meeting, the district decided to allow the current sign to remain in place until the end of the fall Little League season. It will then be replaced with something “more consistent with the size of other signs on the field,” district superintendent Dominick Palma said in an email.
The issue began in April when the league hung the 3-by-3-foot sign renaming the league’s LK3 field to Lakeside Forever 9 Foundation Field.
The league made the gesture as a way to recognize work by the Robbie Levine Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2006 by Jill and Craig Levine following the death of their 9-year-old son, whose heart stopped while running bases during Little League practice almost eight years ago.
“This was not specifically meant to commemorate one person’s death. We felt that it was time to thank this foundation for all that they’ve done for the school and community,” said Merrick-North Merrick Little League president Joe Rocco.
The foundation provides CPR and automated external defibrillator training to league managers and the public as well as portable defibrillators on the athletic fields, Rocco said.
The school district, which owns the field at Norman J. Levy Lakeside Elementary School, removed the sign, claiming the league needed permission to hang it, Palma said.
Many community members voiced their disapproval, bringing the issue to school board meetings and creating an online petition that received more than 900 signatures.
Rocco said he is relieved to settle the issue, but saddened that “something that was meant to be honoring turned into an ugly battle.”