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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Democracy in Action – Hope for the Village



By Cindy Goldstein -

 

After the spate of recent meetings that had angry, frustrated, and frightened residents begging for help from their Village officials on various topics including flooding, there was a bit of hope last Wednesday, February 7th at the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) meeting. 

 

The meeting was a great example that change can happen and our officials are here to represent all of us.

 

We first reported on this issue on October 27, 2023. (See HERE.)  The Village Board of Trustees (BOT) was looking at $2 million of capital projects to upgrade Florence Park – including installation of pickle ball courts.

 

A major update to a local park sounds good – right?  Unfortunately, the proposed project did not include input from the local residents.  In addition to the many homes surrounding the park there is also a Friends of Florence Park association with a Facebook group with more than 200 members.  It would have been easy to reach out to residents but evidently no one spoke with them to gain their insights as to what was needed at the park.

 

On November 13, 2023 the BOT continued discussions and voted 4:1 to approve the $1.4 million for various capital projects at the park including installing pickle ball courts.  Additionally, then Village Manager Jerry Barberio stated the intention to turn parts of Florence Park into revenue-generating operations.  (See HERE.)

 

These developments rankled local resident Alana Stone who sprang in to educate her fellow residents.  Specifically, Stone’s research included recent articles (See HERE) describing how pickle ball courts generate a tremendous amount of irritating noise that can be heard throughout a neighborhood.

 

The result of Stone’s activism?  The February 7, 2024 Parks and Recreation Commission agenda included an item about the Florence Park project and approximately 20 neighbors attended the meeting.  A somewhat surprised Commission noted that their meetings generally don’t attract much of an audience.  But this night was different.

 

PRC Chair Dan Margoshes rearranged the agenda to move this discussion higher on the list to accommodate residents in attendance.

 

Approximately 12 residents – most of whom live near the park – spoke about the noise, traffic, parking and the overall lack of enforcement of park rules.  Residents were also both surprised and annoyed that no one from the Village contacted them before developing the plan, citing concerns about flooding and the “monetization” of the park.  Some stated that pickle ball courts would be better sited at Harbor Island Park.

 

To address the lack of process, Megan Williams suggested the Village install signs at intended project sites to inform residents of proposed plans.  Williams pointed out these notice signs would resemble those used by land use board applicants to inform the public of meeting schedules, allowing residents to learn about upcoming projects and provide input.

 

At the end of the lively but entirely civil discussion, the PRC unanimously agreed to recommend that the BOT remove the pickle ball courts from the plan.  Trustee Rawlings, who arrived about halfway through the conversation, agreed to relay the Committee’s recommendation to the BOT.

 

While the PRC’s role is only advisory to the BOT, residents left the meeting with a sense of relief that the pickle ball courts would not be installed. 

 

But they will stay involved – just to be sure.



 

Editor’s Note: Alana Stone is a member of The Mamaroneck Observer’s advisory board.

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