Editorial: This is what happens when you don’t invest

07/22/2016 6:00 AM |

Spending more than $55,000 to fix up a skate park may sound like too much money to some people. Let’s face it, that’s a lot of dough.

So in some respects, it’s easy to understand why the Riverhead Town Board was reluctant to allocate an additional $70,000 to complete renovations at Stotzky Park.

Instead, the board agreed this week to spend $27,000 to do just enough work to get the skate park reopened this summer. Ultimately, however, more work will need to be performed.

While it would be unfair to take the town to task for its reluctance to spend $125,000 to fix a park that isn’t used by the masses, it should be noted that the costs are as high as they are because the town has not invested in the site on an annual basis.

To say a lack of investment in public recreation has been among this Town Board’s shortcomings would be an understatement. After all, this is the same town that built a softball complex without lights, rendering it unusable at night — when adults play softball. Show us a ball field with no lights and we’ll show you a field that is underused.

It can also be said that few people use the skate park, but how well has it been promoted?

On Sunday in Greenport, the skate park on Moores Lane will be filled with dozens of children and teenagers for its annual Skate Park Festival. Each year, money raised at the event goes toward maintaining the park. In Riverhead, Stotzky Park will be closed pending repairs — and it seems most people in the town are fine with that.

In fact, lately in Riverhead — and in neighboring towns — nearly every plan to invest in recreation has been met with heavy scrutiny.

Turf fields? Don’t want ’em. Skate parks? Let ’em die. Athletic complexes? Bah! Humbug!

Our local governments love to study: comprehensive plans, master plans, traffic and parking studies, analyses of sewer upgrades and other infrastructure.

One thing Suffolk towns never seem to analyze is how to properly invest in recreational opportunities for the public — or the repercussions of not doing so.

We complain about kids not getting outside enough and childhood obesity, but what do we do about it?

Riverhead and other towns need to take a hard look at the recreational opportunities they provide and how they could be improved and marketed to the public. They then need to create action plans that include annual investments.

It should be a priority of this town to have the best parks possible. That’s something you can’t put a price on.

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