Featured Story

Two outdoor soccer fields, three indoor fields proposed for Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton

Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton may soon be home to two FIFA-sized grass soccer fields that could be used for multiple sports, as well as three smaller indoor turf fields under a proposal pitched to the Riverhead Town Board Thursday.

Peter Bellard of Setauket outlined his proposal to donate the multi-purpose athletic fields to Riverhead Town, with a goal of enhancing recreation opportunities for children as well as for older people who may wish to play pickleball. He said he plans to fully fund the operation and would not be seeking assistance from the town, other than for the land.

“I think [indoor facilities] really are something that’s needed, especially in the North and South Forks, and Riverhead being so centralized provides so much of an opportunity for all those townships and especially for Riverhead as you guys are growing,” Mr. Bellard said.

Peter Bellard outlines the proposal at Thursday’s work session. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The facilities would provide expanded opportunities for kids who play soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, for example, Mr. Bellard said.

The outdoor fields could be ready as early as this summer and the indoor training facilities by the start of the next school year, Mr. Bellard said. Riverhead Town residents could have a set time to use the indoor fields for free, he said.

The preliminary proposal comes on the heels of the Town Board approving a new bubble ice hockey rink at Veterans Memorial Park that will be donated by Wading River-based Peconic Hockey Foundation. Mr. Bellard said his plan is to locate the fields on land north of where the ice hockey rink would be located.

The outdoor fields would be 320 feet by 190 feet, so “they can be utilized on any level, whether we’re talking about children in kindergarten level all the way up to college,” Mr. Bellard said.

The complex would be built on about 4 1/2 to 6 acres of town land at the park.

His plan features a building with three fields, each 100 by 150 feet, or about 15,000 square feet each, a dimension that’s equal to about 1/4-size of a soccer field.

He plans to donate the outdoor fields and then build the indoor facility, which would total about 45,000 to 50,000 square feet. He envisions the indoor facility opening around 8 a.m. The time from 3-10 p.m. would be the primary used for school-aged kids. He’s also hoping to have a special event space that could be used for birthday parties and other events. The plans do not include lights for the outdoor fields.

In a letter to the town, Mr. Bellard, who said he’s a currency option trader based in Huntington, listed his organization as ““Conscience Bay Group.” The president and CEO of the organization, he said Thursday he’d be open to changing a name to something that “sounds a little more proper to what we’re trying to do.”

Councilman Bob Kern said Mr. Bellard has agreed to pave 72 parking spaces and stripe them. Mr. Bellard also said he’d plan to make donations to Veterans Memorial Park for upkeep on annual basis.

The goal would be to work in conjunction with Riverhead’s Recreation Department. Ray Coyne, the superintendent of Parks & Recreation, attended the work session and said he had just been briefed on the plan. Mr. Bellard said his group would supply items like corner flags and goals for the fields that could be used by the recreation department.

Councilman Ken Rothwell asked about maintenance of the fields, such as grass cutting. Mr. Bellard said that’s something he hopes to coordinate with the town. Mr. Rothwell said the buildings and ground department is a “little overwhelmed” maintaining current facilities. The town may need to adjust the budget for next year to have the funds to cover that maintenance, he said.

He also asked if there would be a managerial contract, similar to what the town is engaging Peconic Hockey Foundation for that indoor rink facility. In that agreement, the foundation is purchasing and erecting the facility, and once its ready, turning the keys over to the town, Mr. Rothwell said.

Mr. Bellard said he envisioned maintaining and operating the facility from the beginning and envisioned setting up a lease with the town.

“In an ideal world it would be a lease,” he said. “I would then be donating these buildings to the town and I’d be operating those buildings for the time of those lease.”

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said there’s still a lot work to be done to sort out how an agreement would ultimately be written.

“The town attorney and recreation [department] will have to work out the details and present it to the board for approval,” she said.