Allen Park Expansion Coming Into Sight

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Town of Oyster Bay Department of Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz (left) and Supervisor Joseph Saladino discuss the expansion of Ellsworth Allen Park at the March 1 meeting of the Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale. (Photos by Frank Rizzo)

The people speak, and the leaders listen. And what the Town of Oyster Bay leadership has been hearing for years is that Farmingdale residents want more facilities at the town-owned Ellsworth Allen Park and its proposed expansion.

In 2003, the town purchased, via eminent domain, a 21½-acre former industrial site adjoining the park on Motor Parkway. Expansion has been held up by litigation—the former owners wanted more money for the property, which had once been a Superfund site but had been cleaned up by the federal EPA to recreational standards. Thanks to a victory in court last year, the town was free to go ahead with site planning.

The meeting room in the Allen Park administration building was filled for the March 1 meeting of Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale (CCAF). Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino was there to give an update on plans for the park.

Currently, the park has one baseball, one softball and one multi-purpose field. The existing tennis courts and playground were upgraded last year, and this year, the multi-purpose field will get a new surface; the existing one has reached the end of its useful life.

The new acreage will feature a baseball and softball field, both with synthetic turf infields and natural outfields. A multi-purpose and even a t-ball field will be part of the expanded area. Both will have synthetic surfaces. A bathroom/concession stand, batting/pitching cages and walking/bike riding trails will complete the park’s next phase.

The Ellsworth Allen Park expansion plans. (Click to enlarge)

Commissioner of Parks Joe Pinto and Department of Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz joined Saladino to fill in some of the blanks. Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. of Farmingdale said that the first bids would go out after the next Oyster Bay Town Board meeting on March 13.

Saladino, after updating attendees on his administration’s efforts to turn the town around, listened as residents expressed wishes and concerns. CCAF President Tina Diamond noted that the site plan—whose rendering was displayed on a large board—was similar to what was proposed in 2003. She wondered if the meeting area could be enlarged to meet the needs of civic groups such as hers.

“If we can, in another phase, put an expansion on this building, then there’s a possibility,” Saladino replied, cautioning that he did not want to promise too much. “We’re going to listen to everyone’s needs. The sports groups have been very vocal and telling us about their needs.”

Farmingdale has a plethora of both youth and senior organized sports activities.

“[They’re] extremely popular and growing,” Saladino said of the athletic programs.

When one resident criticized the plans and asked about activities for seniors, Saladino warned, “We’re not here to pit one group against another. We get the message: keep the taxes low. Don’t go out and wildly borrow. That was one of the problems of the past, runaway spending. No one wants to go out and borrow another $100 million—that would give us everything we want.”

The Plan

As far as the expansion, the infrastructure—electric, sewer and water—would be done first. Another large parking lot will be one of the first visible projects before work could begin on the fields. The plans also call for moving the main entrance several hundred feet west of the current location. The existing entrance will remain, and an interior road will link the two parking lots.

A portion of the acreage will be left empty for drainage. An existing structure that is cleaning contaminated water from a deep plume will remain in place. It is estimated that it will be in operation for another 20 years.

Town of Oyster Bay Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. told attendees that there was money set aside to complete the expansion phase.

The cost of upgrading and expansion is estimated at $9 million. Lenz expected the two-phase project to be finished by mid-2019.

Asked where the money would come from, the supervisor said that it had been raised mainly from unused capital funds.

”We have the money committed to going forward with this project,” Carman assured attendees.

“Will you be adding security?” someone asked Saladino.

“Absolutely,” he replied. “We have a Department of Public Safety with highly trained individuals to protect our residents—and our investments.”

The Nassau County police will also help out and Saladino expressed confidence about keeping the park safe.

Lenz added that there would be call boxes in the new phase, and cameras will be part of them.

“Are you happy with this plan?” Saladino asked the crowd.

There was a smattering of noes, but the applause drowned them out.

“Thank you, finally, for doing something,” one resident involved with youth sports had remarked.

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