There are loads of fun things to do this summer, recreation chiefs in Larchmont and Mamaroneck told the Local Summit at its June 15th meeting at the Nautilus Diner.
But there were some requests for more. Speakers representing biking and kayaking said local governments could do more to make these activities accessible. And then there were audience members who felt the welter of municipal usage requirements and fees for programs were confusing and off-putting.
These were highlights of the Summit’s program on summer recreation, the organization’s final program till Fall, chaired by Keith Yizar.
What are the Municipalities Offering?
Jill Fisher, recreation superintendent of the Town of Mamaroneck, said the Town is particularly proud of summer activities for families. The star attraction is the Hommocks pool where there is a “Bubble Babies” program for children 6 months to 3 years of age, swim lessons for children and adults, a special scuba program and water exercise especially helpful for the elderly. Other offerings include a weekly concert series at Hommocks Memorial Park beginning Monday, July 12th at 7:00 p.m., and a variety of tennis, golf, camp, fitness and cultural/educational offerings.
Rosanne Saracino, recreation superintendent of the Village of Mamaroneck, said that Harbor Island beach opens for swimming Saturday, June 19th. “Water quality within the boom area is excellent,” she said. A concert and movie program at Harbor Island starts Sunday, August 8th at 7 p.m., and will continue on the three remaining Sundays of the month. There is a soccer clinic for boys and girls from grades K – 8 the week of August 23rd, a junior sailing program in July and August and basic kayak skill training for middle schoolers in August. In addition, the Village is sponsoring day camps, a softball league, recreational soccer and fitness activities. On September 11th, as the summer winds down, the Village will sponsor its 7th Annual Family Campout (and sleep-over) at Harbor Island. Families bring their tents, sleeping bags, food and their kids. The Village will supply campfires, s’mores, hot chocolate, coffee and tea, gas grills and picnic tables.
Joyce Callahan, recreation director of the Village of Larchmont, was unable to attend the Summit meeting but sent ahead notice that at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 17th her department was set to host “Music with Marcia the Musical Moose” for young children at the Flint Park Play House. A free, no-permit-required Tennis Weekend will be held at Flint Park, starting Friday, June 18th. And two other Flint park events coming up are the Fourth of July Races for all ages, and five evening concerts at 7:15 p.m. every Thursday in July.
Kayakers Seek Greater Water Access
David Hellerstein, founder of the Kayakers Alliance of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, said his group has close to 200 members. He notices more kayak roof racks on cars in town and a growing number of kayakers in the local bays and inlets. He said that while kayaking requires some training, it need not be expensive. He himself started out “with a used clunker.”
He said that while our local waters are well suited to kayaking, “it’s hard to get into the water.” Present access is pretty well limited to Dog Beach, at the end of Beach Avenue in Larchmont, where there is no nearby parking; Harbor Island, where there is parking, but where the Village has raised its fee from $8 last year to $20 currently; and Glen Island in New Rochelle, where there is parking and a launching fee of $4.
He said that in the best of all worlds, he would like kayakers to be able to launch at any local road that ends at the water. But he said there is an ongoing resistance based on property owners’ claims that “they own the water.” Other parts of the country also are trying to deal with this, he said, and he hopes future regional or national steps will lead to more democratic water access.
Master Plan for Biking?
Mary Lee Berridge, the Summit’s co-president, read a paper on biking initiatives sent to the meeting by Larchmont Trustee Richard Ward, who couldn’t attend. Mr. Ward offered four components of a master plan for biking:
— improve bike and scooter parking at the station
— provide convenient, useful bike parking in the business districts
— improve traffic signage and other on-street biking conditions
— develop bike lanes and bike routes jointly with adjacent communities.
The cost of this effort is low and would enhance bike usage which:
“provides physical exercise, reduces air pollution, emits virtually no carbon, lessens dependence on foreign oil, saves money, provides a social connection to the community that driving does not, and creates parking in the business districts when people who would have driven bike instead.”
Pearson Constantino, a representative of the 1500-member Westchester Cycle Club, said that this area is excellent for recreational biking. It has few large hills and many streets are wide and lightly trafficked. He urged the use of a biking helmet and a rear bike light for safety. The Cycle Club can provide approved bike routes for cyclists wanting to do more than bike in town.
Mamaroneck Town Trustee Ernie Odierna, speaking from the audience, said that he has a bunch of bicycles at his house that his grandchildren have disdained as being out of date. “Is there any way I can put these bikes to good use?” he asked. Lou Kline, a second Cycle Club representative present, said the Club does have periodic drives to pick up used bikes and give them to new owners. He also said the Club runs clinics on bike repair, bike riding, and biking in traffic.
What Does a Fishing License Cost?
Mariana Boneo, a board member of the Summit, asked what a fishing license in Mamaroneck Village costs and who can fish there. Officials and non-officials came up with partial and conflicting answers. A subsequent phone call to Linda Silvestre, deputy clerk in the Town of Mamaroneck, produced the information. A New York State fishing license, available through the Town clerk, is now required for both salt and fresh water fishing. A yearly salt water license for a NYS resident is $10 and a fresh water license $29. An out-of-state resident must pay $15 for a salt water license and $45 for a fresh water license.
Several audience members commented that more community coordination on recreation was needed. They said that the many different usage requirements and fees for summer activities was very confusing and discouraged participation. The two recreation superintendents nodded, signaling they too thought coordination was appropriate.
For summer event literature and more information:
Recreation Department, Town of Mamaroneck, 914-381-7865
Recreation Department, Mamaroneck Village, 914-777-7767
Recreation Department, Larchmont, 914-834-1919
Kayak Alliance of Larchmont and Mamaroneck 914—833-2726
Westchester Cycle Club, 914-721-6018
The above program was hosted by the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Local Summit which is an informal community council that seeks to make the community a better place to live for everyone. Harold Wolfson is on the board of the Local Summit.