The unveiling of a new site plan for Lorenzen Park attracted interest from the sports leagues at the April 27th meeting of the Larchmont Village Board, but there was only one commentator for the final public hearing on the budget.
Two new fields, a new comfort station, a rain garden and a revised parking lot were among the items proposed for Lorenzen Park by Anthony Catalano, the consulting engineer with Woodard and Curran who also headed up last year’s renovations at Flint Park.
Lorenzen’s current baseball field will remain as is, with a backstop and fence. There will be two new field areas with backstops but no fences. One of these will be large enough for a full-size game; the other will accommodate practices or t-ball.
The proposed design had numerous “green” elements. Mr. Catalano was careful to point out how subsurface drainage was being handled in each area. All water will discharge out to the Premium River, which is adjacent to the park. The comfort station will use composting and be a significant upgrade from the current portopotties.
The ball fields will be surfaced with natural grass. No lighting is being proposed. The parking lot will have better defined spaces, and there is a possibility of upgrading from gravel to porous asphalt, as was done in Flint Park. There is even a plan for a mini pavilion with solar panels which would be used as a concession stand for cold drinks and ice cream. However, creating that structure might take some additional fundraising.
Plan Praised: The plan drew praise from Eric Marks and David Fishman of the Little League, Sid Ings, head of the Soccer League, and Jim Hanley from Fields for Kids. ”This plan was dreamed up by the guys who run the youth sports programs in the community,” said Mr. Fishman.
The design at Lorenzen is part of a larger scheme characterized by Mr. Hanley as “the swap.” The different leagues agreed that all players would benefit by turning a baseball field at Flint Park into space for soccer and lacrosse. In return, the baseball players would get new fields at Lorenzen, allowing their games to be concentrated there. ”Thanks for sticking to the plan,” Mr. Fishman said to the board members.
Eric Marks added that the new design demonstrates the benefits of cooperation among the sports leagues, which have not always worked as closely in the past. “This plan replaces the Flint Park baseball field with a much better field for the baseball league and adds a better field for the soccer league as well,” he said.
Public-Private Partnership: The leagues and Field for Kids are all helping pay for this project, as is the Village of Larchmont. The total budget is around $1.2 million, but the final figure depends on which elements are included and how much it will cost to modify and upgrade fields at Flint Park. The backstop at Field A (closest to the entrace to the park) will be removed and the one in the adjacent Field B will be moved back to make room for varsity level soccer, field hockey or lacrosse games.
After the meeting, Mr. Fishman said Fields for Kids will be contributing approximately $700,000 and the leagues have pledged “a significant” sum. Mr. Fishman is hoping for a total of $1.2 in private contributions.
Mr. Hanley explained that Fields for Kids raised around $1.5 million and has already donated $800,00o for Phase I at Flint Park, which included development of a new turf field, renovatation of two grass fields and creation of a waterside environmental area.
Expanded Rec Soccer: Trustee Richard Ward thanked Mr. Ings and others who listened to requests from girls in the community wanting to continue playing recreational soccer. The program has been extended for girls in grades 10 to 12. There is still time for students in grades 9, 10, or 11 to sign up for the coming fall season.
Final Budget: One Comment on Consolidating Fire Departments
There were no changes to the final budget presented by Treasurer Denis Brucciani in the third and final public hearing. Spending is down from last year, but revenues are down even further. The budget of $15,019,680 comes with a relatively modest 2.4% tax rate increase or $290.63 per $1000 of assessed valuation, up $6.94 per $1000.
Unlike the two earlier budget hearings, one resident requested to speak. Ned Benton, a former Larchmont Village trustee, pointed out that according to his calculations our taxes are 15% to 17% higher than they need to be due to the cost of our local fire department. If we would merge with the Town of Mamaroneck’s fire department, he maintained, we would save that amount in efficiencies and by spreading costs over a larger tax base. “I would hope that you would consider doing this,” he added. “Every year you delay is one more year we pay more than we need to.”
Board members said they have been examining consolidation. Much of their consideration relates to questions about the level of service that Village residents have become accustomed to expect. Before proceeding further, board members also feel the need to get satisfactory answers to additional questions, such as: what is the nature of the employment contracts in the Town? What is their first responder time? Do they perform fire inspections (Larchmont does)? What kind of services would the combined department provide? What would be the legal costs of renegotiating all the contracts?
Trustee Jim Millstein said there is a new study suggesting a large fire district that would encompass much of lower Westchester. Larchmont would be a hub with more staff and equipment in this scheme. “We ought to look at this proposal, too, before we jump into any new plan right away,” he said. Mr. Millstein agreed to give Mr. Benton a copy of the study.
More Money Matters
New Courts: The board accepted a bid for renovating the Flint Park tennis courts. Work will start immediately with the goal of completion by July 3. Mr. Brucciani announced that DeRosa Contstruction will do the job for $329,455. Mr. Ward complimented the DPW for recycling the old fence around the existing courts. It will be used to replace the temporary fence around the waterworks building at the reservoir. Trustee Marlene Kolbert added that she will donate one of the benches at the courts. At a previous meeting, Mr. Millstein announced that his mother, Diane Millstein, was supporting renovation of the tennis courts through the Millstein Foundation.
Main Design: Woodard and Curran were awarded the task of developing plans for repairing the Chatsworth Avenue water main. The cost is $63,000 and covers designing the lining of the existing water main – including any replacement or repair, the pipe supports on the span of the bridge, and an application of protective coating on the exterior of the pipeline, if needed. In short, it covers everything except the cost of construction.
Cars Sold: Mr. Brucciani reported that the Village’s used vehicles have been sold. The two 1979 salt spreaders went to North White Plains Auto for $700.01 and $1001 respectively. The two Ford Royal Crown Victorias went to Gore Quality Used Cars for $2858 for the 2005 model and $3850 for the 2006 model. Trustee Anne McAndrews said, “Going forward, we plan to get rid of police cars at the end of the warranty period as a more efficient way of managing the fleet.
New Cameras: Police Chief John Poleway requested permission to hire Flashback to replace the outmoded closed circuit surveillance cameras in the commuter lots for $13,350. He then praised Detective Barbara D’Aquino, the youth officer, for the outstanding work she has done with D.A.R.E, the anti-drug and alcohol program. “She has been an invaluable asset to the Village,” he said. He also, once again, urged compliance with anti-idling laws and warned he will have to start writing tickets to offenders.
Funds for the Hungry: John Farris and Jim McDonald, board members of the CAP Center in Mamaroneck, requested time to report that a recent benefit dinner held at Larchmont Avenue Church for the Hunger Task Force raised even more money than last year. “The success of this dinner demonstrates this community’s support for the people in our area who are in need,” said Mr. Mc Donald. He pointed out that 350 bags of groceries are currently distributed every 2 weeks to the needy, and the number is growing. Each $25 donation pays for a bag, $50.00 feeds a family of four. He encouraged residents to send donations to the Larchmont Avenue Church, 50 Larchmont Avenue.
Bike Update: Mr. Ward reported on the April 7 Bike Summit. There are 150 miles of trails in lower Westchester with 200 miles more being added. Buses are being retrofitted with bike racks. There are 98 bikes and scooters going to the train station, double the number from last year. Larchmont now has 32 more bike racks and will be adding more scooter racks.
Shredder Coming: Ms. Kolbert reported that Saturday, May 2, is shredding and e-waste day at the Maxwell Street Recycling Center.
Smart Climate: Mayor Liz Feld announced that the Village has signed the Climate Smart Community Pledge that includes a commitment to a variety of environmentally friendly initiatives which, according to Ms. Kolbert, can be summed up in the phrase, “Think globally, act locally.”