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Riverhead Town’s parks are ‘starting to age and fall apart’

02/02/2016 2:45 PM |

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Riverhead Town doesn’t have the money to fund repairs to its parks and playgrounds, Supervisor Sean Walter said after hearing a rundown of what town projects are top priority for repairs.

“Every few years, I come to you and let you know what is wrong,” said Parks Superintendent Ray Coyne at Thursday’s Town Board work session. “It’s getting to a point where things are starting to age and fall apart.”

Among the projects Mr. Coyne considered “high priority” are putting lights and bathroom at the ballfields at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Calverton, adding multi-purpose fields on the eastern portion of that park and tennis, basketball and pickleball courts on the center part of it; adding a water source for the dog park; and finishing the 8.8 mile bike and walking path around the Enterprise Park at Calverton, which currently only goes 3.2 miles.

Mr. Coyne said that walking path is one of the most common requests from residents.

At Stotzky Park, the skate park has been closed for more than a year because of the condition it’s in; The park will need $50,000 to $60,000 in repairs to be usable again, Mr. Coyne said.

But he said only just over 1 percent of the population uses the skatepark, so those repairs are on hold.

The north soccer field at EPCAL also is in bad condition, despite a $300,000 renovation a few years ago, and the south soccer field is closed because of its condition, Mr. Coyne said.

The town has just under $200,000 in recreation fees that come from developers during the subdivision process and must be used by the town for parks.

The town also has $1.1 million left in a bond authorization from 10 years ago that hasn’t been spent, and which expires on April 17, according to Mr. Coyne. But the town hasn’t bonded that money yet as doing so could put its financial future in jeopardy.

Mr. Walter said the town’s low credit rating is to blame. If the town does more bonding, the credit rating may be lowered to the point where the town won’t be able to borrow money, he added. Mr. Walter said the town has been only spending money it has for the past few years and is not bonding.

“I know the situation you’re in and I know the situation the parks are in,” Mr. Coyne said. “I don’t know which comes first.”

He said that while the town’s financial situation has improved over the past three years, “the parks are aging and they’re getting worse and the complaints are getting greater.”

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