County Approves $2.55 Million Grant for Flint Park
by Judy Silberstein
(September 13, 2007) On Monday, September 10, after months of meetings, intermunicipal conversations and negotiations, Westchester County’s Board of Legislators unanimously approved a $2.55 million legacy grant to help pay for an artificial turf field and other improvements at Flint Park. The grant has been a long-time in the making, from concept to approval.
According to County Legislator Judy Myers, a Larchmont resident, she began working towards the goal soon after taking office in 2005. “I realized this could be a partial answer to the chronic field shortage in Larchmont and Mamaroneck.” The idea picked up steam with the election of a new Larchmont administration in 2006.
Negotiations between Larchmont and Westchester County took some time – in return for the grant Larchmont agreed to assume maintenance for the stretch of Palmer Avenue that falls in the Village and to pursue 35 units of work force housing. Another intermunicipal agreement was required between Larchmont Village and Town of Mamaroneck, because a portion of land for the field falls on Mamaroneck property adjacent to Flint Park. Though relatively fast by a municipal clock, it also took months to produce plans acceptable to the County and amenable to the many Larchmont and Mamaroneck constituencies with interests at the park.
Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld, Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe and Jim Hanley, from Fields for Kids, were at the meeting to voice support for the project.
Mayor Feld called the grant a “dream come true." Later she said, “It’s impossible to thank Judy Myers enough.” Mr. Hanley said, “It was a great day for our little village.”
“It’s really remarkable,” Mr. Hanley said later. He noted that it was the first anniversary of his organization’s founding as an advocate for more playing fields in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. “Last November, no one really had a plan; no one had a budget; no one had funds. Ten months later, we have all the above.“
The Flint Park project was hailed as the ideal private-public partnership. Public funds from the Legacy grant and from a bond issued by the Village of Larchmont will be joined by private funds from Fields for Kids, the Flint Park Conservancy and other donations. Additional government grants obtained in past years are going towards development of an environmental area adjacent to the water, which are already underway, and renovation of the nearby grass ball fields.
Fields for Kids has pledged $1.5 million for work at Lorenzen and Flint Parks, and is nearing its goal,” said Mr. Hanley. “Our own fundraising is going very, very well – better than expected,” he said.
However, the group is not resting on its laurels – it views the Lorenzen and Flint Park projects as “two of ten blades of grass,” said Mr. Hanley. Eventually, it hopes to have eight similar projects underway for other areas of the community.
“We’re just getting started,” said Mr. Hanley.
At the Larchmont Board – Details of Plan
If Monday morning was a time for approving the grant and celebrating, Monday evening at the Village Board meeting was focused on the plan itself.
Anthony Catalano, Larchmont’s consultant with Woodard and Curran, presented the latest plans, and provided additional details to dispel a number of misimpressions that had been concerning neighbors of Flint Park. In particular, he said:
Roads & Parking: To increase safety, provide more space for ball fields and save additional valuable trees, the access road into the park has been realigned. Total parking spots will approximate what is now available, but there will be no parking along the access road. The entrance to the Birch parking lot was moved from the access road back to Birch Lane. Additional handicap parking will be available at the back of the park near the new waterside walkway. Meanwhile, sidewalks and paths have been adjusted to minimize pedestrians having to cross the road.
Trees & Cats: Although most of the trees in the existing grove between Flint Park and the Hommocks will be removed to make way for the new field, there will be new plantings of bushes and relatively large caliper trees – both evergreen and deciduous. Plans call for moving the feral cat colony now in the grove to an area behind the medical buildings that front on the Boston Post Road.
Trustee Marlene Kolbert recognized that removing large trees was an emotional issue for many. “It will take a few years before it will look like it’s been there all along,” she said. “In the end it will be even more beautiful.”
Timeline: The board expects to go out for bids on the turf field and other landscaping by the end of September and to start work in November. The grass field renovation is set for spring, 2008.