Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00
The Carle Place community’s voice was loud and clear as parents, coaches, community members and athletes rallied recently to show their displeasure with the Town of North Hempstead’s neglect to Charles J. Fuschillo Park. Residents say they have tried to get the Town’s help in repairing the facilities, fences and ball fields, but to no avail.
“The Town of North Hempstead gives us zero love. We must let these people know we are fed up,” said Anthony Bulzomi, who spearheaded the rally on September 14 at Fuschillo Park. Bulzomi is currently running against incumbent Viviana Russell for the District 1 Council seat.
John Heslin, president of the Carle Place Seniors Association, has been writing letters to the town since 2005 regarding improvements he would like to see in the park’s community room. Almost 100 seniors meet there every week and
Heslin, as well as other senior residents, have appealed to the town for several renovations, including repairing the leaking roof (a project that is nearing completion). Ann Mandaro lives behind the park and has sent several letters to the town asking them to fix the fence around the ball fields, which borders her property.
“It’s deplorable. It’s a nice little park but they just let it go,” Mandaro said.
Heslin says the town has been slow to respond, if it responds at all.
“Responses usually take months, and there’s never any action. The town doesn’t care for us,” Heslin said. “They don’t do anything for us, but for everyone else at other parks. We’re taxpayers too.”
But Russell, the current town council member for Carle Place, was surprised to hear that residents felt their concerns were not being addressed.
“We’ve been in constant communication and have regular conversations with them,” Russell said. “Any letter they send is responded to. We talk about issues and deal with them accordingly.”
The basketball and tennis courts at Fuschillo were redone in 2011. More recently, a portion of the community center roof was replaced and new HVAC units were installed. The ceiling of the main room of the community center was replaced and the walls were repainted. Rusted light poles in the park were also recently taken down, but not yet replaced. Repairs to the fence were started but have not been completed.
Several other parks in surrounding areas have had notable upgrades in the past several years. The baseball fields at Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park were restored in March 2012, with baseball diamonds repaired, new sod and clay put on the fields, and a renovated pitcher’s mound and infield. Herrick’s ball field has a turf infield, new playground, new landscaping and new benches. Martin “Bunky” Reid Park in Westbury had upgrades done to their baseball, tennis and volleyball court (in 2011, the same time as Fuschillo Park).
John Hommel is a Little League Coach and president of the Carle Place Civic Association. He says that the community isn’t asking for much.
“We’re not asking for turf fields or any of that. We’re just asking that the two fields and the park we have are maintained, which is a service the town should be providing but it’s not,” Hommel said.
According to Hommel, many Little Leagues in surrounding areas also pay nothing to use the fields, while the Carle Place team pays approximately $3,000 for a permit to use the Fuschillo Park and the Eighth Street ballfields from April to the end of June. Even more frustrating for the coaches, players and athletes is that they feel the Town doesn’t maintain the fields they pay so much to use.
“It’s always the same story. At the beginning of the season the fields are nice, but as time goes on it’s the forgotten field,” says Carle Place Little League President Butch Bavaro.
Bavaro even offered to have the league maintain the field if they could get the permit fee waived, but the Town denied the request, saying it would cause legal and insurance issues. Yet coaches and parents still find themselves cleaning up the fields before games, because they find it in unplayable condition. The fields also flood easily, so a brief shower could cancel a game. The night before this season’s All Star Game, parents and coaches were on the field, trying to get it ready for the game—using blowers to dry it up, putting tarps down to keep them from getting any wetter and raking the fields.
“The town doesn’t go out and try to fix it. They say they can’t do anything,” Hommel says. “Something is getting done but it’s falling on the residents’ shoulders,” Hommel says. “Why should we be paying for these parks and getting the response we’re getting?”
Russell said that going forward, there are plans to even out the fields and finish fixing the fence. A representative from the town also said that they are aware of the field conditions and that they are currently looking into field upgrades to get onto the capital plan.