Glad To See PARCnassau Still Pounding Away At County's Neglect Of Our Parks
Yes, our friends at PARCnassau, a Nassau County (Long Island) park advocacy group, is now blogging. Visit (and bookmark) the blog at http://parcnassau.blogspot.com/.
Kudos to Bruce Piel, PARCnassau Chairman, not only for his foray into blogdom, but moreover, on keeping the heat on county government to protect and preserve the people's parks.
Here's the latest post from PARCnassau. One question, though. If privatizing public parks is bad, what's the gripe with banishing private baseball leagues, or at least charging private leagues more for park permits? Keep the parks public, right? We get the distinction, Bruce. Just thought we'd ask...
Nassau Parks become the playground bully
On June 21st, PARCnassau sent out an update titled Play Ball 2011 (see PARCnassau Blog ) citing our concerns that the Nassau County Department of Park & Recreation was embarking on a "progrom" to drive private ball leagues from county parks. Subsequent events are showing that is exactly what is happening.
First the county refused to allow private leagues to register for ball fields for their fall schedules, snowflake leagues this year and spring and summer leagues in 2011. Without knowing whether or not they have fields prevents the private leagues from registering players, effectively shutting them down. Two excuses were being given. First, that the county didn't know which fields they needed for their own (new) leagues and secondly they were rehabilitating the fields.Both excuses do not hold water. First they should only hold a number of fields that they could reasonable use in this start up program and secondly they are only rehab-ing 3 fields at Eisenhower leaving more than enough fields county wide to accomodate the private leagues.
Further, the Parks department is unilaterally raising the permit fees by 50% to 66% per hour for the private leagues. This is being done without legislative approval as required by law. The "scam" is they are calling the permitting of private leagues part of a "pilot program" and not subject to legislative approval.This is not true and shows a decided lack of respect for our county legislature. Meanwhile the new fees can destroy the private leagues and must be reversed.
Two of the larger private leagues were "lured" into joining the county program by hiring the league presidents as highly paid directors working for Parks. One such individual surrendered his teams that played on county fields but kept those that used Town of Oyster Bay fields. Best of all worlds?
Another wrinkle is any player who signs up for the county run leagues must pay 20% of the sign up fees to the county treasurer and 80% of the fees to Friends of Nassau County Recreation. Sound like a slush fund for Parks? We think so. This Friends group was founded in 1982 by civic minded individuals to raise money through donations from private companies and individuals to fund recreation programs that the county could not afford. It fell into disuse in the '90s and the parks department took it "in house". Monies collected by Friends of Nassau County Recreation are not subject to legislative or other government oversight. This is unacceptable! We believe that all money paid to the county should go to the County Treasurer for full accountability.
Private leagues and their players are livid and justifiably so. They are now speaking out against this unfair and unjustified dispossession from county ball fields.
Stay tuned, more to come.
Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau
246 Twin Lane East
Wantagh, NY 11793