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Improvements on the Way at Mashashimuet Park

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 14:04
Mashashimuet Park in the summer of 2021
Carissa Katz

New baseball and softball fields, a competition-size track, new bathrooms and field lighting, maybe even a concession stand — that’s what may be on the horizon at Sag Harbor’s Mashashimuet Park, the longtime home base for Pierson Middle-High School student athletes and spectators.

“It definitely has been a cooperative effort . . . working together to come up with a design of improvements to the park’s fields that will satisfy the athletic program at Pierson and also serve the community,” Janine Rayano, the park board president, said at a Dec. 6 school board meeting.

The goal is to revamp the existing baseball and softball fields and add one new one for each of those sports. Upgrades to the Little League field and soccer and field hockey facilities are also included. Lighting, which would include smart technology that’s friendlier to both neighbors and the environment, may allow for night games at the park. A full-size track would not only benefit the school’s cross-country program, but would also pave the way for a new track and field program for the Whalers. (Right now, Pierson track athletes run for East Hampton during the spring season.) And the need for new bathrooms is sort of obvious.

For a couple of months earlier this year, the future of the park and school district’s relationship was in question. However, just before school started, the two entities signed a one-year lease that bridges the gap between the school’s needs and the park’s resources while long-term solutions are developed.

Now agreed upon after several months of amicable negotiations by a group of Sag Harbor school officials and park board members, the proposal still has some hurdles to clear before it can be brought to life.

They include creating concrete architectural plans, which then must be approved by the New York State Education Department. And there needs to be enough money to pay for the project: The school district will put a bond referendum out to voters for approval. The dollar amount has not yet been determined. School officials said on Dec. 6 that the goal is to add the proposition to the budget ballot in May.

Jeff Nichols, the school superintendent, acknowledged that makes for a very tight timeline.

“We’re shooting for it, but everyone should know that with regulatory approvals and reviews, any delay could result” in having to hold that vote on a later date.

Separately, the park board has been fund-raising to restore the grandstand, which has fallen into disrepair in many places. Ms. Rayano said Monday that $85,000 has been raised so far, but that the board is not sure how much the project is going to cost.

“We are waiting for some final estimates on the costs,” she said. “As you know, the costs of materials and labor are significant. . . . We expect to have our target figure established soon. That will give us a clear goal for fund-raising purposes.”

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