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Bill Allows Youth Sports to Use Ballfields Free of Charge

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Copyright 2018 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)

 

Nassau County lawmakers on Monday unanimously passed a bill allowing nonprofit Little Leagues, senior athletic groups and other charitable organizations to continue using county ballfields without charge.

The bill, proposed by the Republican majority, attempts to block a recent change by the county parks department that took away waivers that these groups had enjoyed for decades.

"This is not a Democrat-versus-Republican issue. This is a right-versus-wrong issue," said Legis. Steven D. Rhoads (R-Bellmore), who introduced the legislation, which cleared a special meeting of the Rules Committee and was among the emergency calendar items voted on by the full legislature.

The cost to use the fields shocked coaches, players and parents with youth and senior groups who said they were notified about the fees - some in excess of $15,000 - just weeks before the prime outdoor playing season begins. Dozens of representatives from the groups spoke during the public comment portion, pleading with lawmakers to continue the fee waiver.

"While we understand the county's need to raise funds, we feel that these parks are already paid for with our taxes, which are among the highest in the nation," said Jim Coakley, 48, former president of the Seaford Little League, which was presented with a $16,000 bill on March 1.

County Executive Laura Curran said she stopped granting the fee waivers to use the ballfields because the county needed the revenue because of its fiscal crisis. She previously called the GOP bill "overly broad."

When asked Monday whether the county executive would veto the legislature's bill, Curran spokesman Michael Martino said: "The legislation needs to be fully reviewed before any decision can be made."

The independent Office of Legislative Budget Review estimates eliminating the waivers would bring in about $269,000 in annual revenue, Rhoads said. The county's budget is about $2.9 billion.

Martino, however, said the financial impact of the bill has yet to be determined.

The legislature on Monday also confirmed the county executive's appointment of Vera Fludd as Nassau County sheriff; David H. Rich as executive director of the county Traffic and Parking Violations Agency; Melissa Gallucci as commissioner of the Department of Shared Services; and Gregory A. May as commissioner of Consumer Affairs.

"I am grateful yet humbled by this historic moment," said Fludd, 56, of Freeport, who rose from the ranks since starting as a correction officer at the East Meadow jail about 30 years ago. "I look forward to having our department become one of the best law enforcement agencies."

Lawmakers also approved an amendment to the county's social host law to make adults responsible for minors' use of prescription drugs and opioids in addition to alcohol; and a property tax exemption to veterans of the Cold War and veterans with disabilities.

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March 27, 2018
 
 
 

 

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