First completed parks project debuts
State Senator Tom Croci (R-Sayville) with Mayor Paul Pontieri. Croci obtained $125,000 for Roberto Clemente Field and other parks initiatives.

Courtesy photo

First completed parks project debuts


The dugout benches came in time. So did the bleachers, dugout roofs and foul poles, all installed last week. “The irrigation was started and that completed it,” said Dennis Smith, Business Improvement District executive director, assistant to Mayor Paul Pontieri and parks master plan project liaison.

It was close, but Roberto Clemente Field, located in the Waldbauer Park Complex, opened on Saturday, with new Astroturf and a sod outfield for the season’s first softball game with Patchogue Youth Athletic Association kids and parents, all blessed with a beautiful day.

“We had bunting around the backstop and of course the sun came out,” said PYAA vice president Kevin McGiff. “Everyone loved walking on the Astroturf and the kids were in awe.”

“We marched the kids in and they lined up around the entire infield,” said PYAA president Peter Feehan, adding there were 200 kids and parents. “I want to give special thanks to Paul Pontieri, Dennis Smith and the entire village board for their vision for creating a traditional family environment.”

Smith said the field’s refurbishing tallied in at just under $500,000. 

The surprise of the day was NYS Sen. Tom Croci’s (R-Sayville) announcement; DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York) state monies for $125,000 for the field. Smith said it could be applied to the field’s refurbishing as well as other park area improvements.

“Since Tom had given us state money, we suggested a dedicated bench to his father,” said Smith. “He thought it was a great idea and he will pay for it; it won’t come out of state funds.” 

“There’s a foundation in his parents’ honor [the Tom and Jo-Ann Croci Foundation] and he’ll use that money,” Pontieri added.

Smith explained that the completion of the field was the first piece of the parks initiative to be completed, aided by a $5 million gift from an anonymous donor to the village. Next, the tennis courts at Four Sisters Park on Rider Avenue would be addressed. “There are six tennis courts in disrepair; if we order a laundry list of tennis court refurbishing supplies, DPW will be able to do the work,” Smith said. 

Smith said they were concentrating on activities residents can enjoy now.

“We are going to take two of the courts and make them multipurpose; they will be lined for tennis and pickle ball,” he said, adding the courts will get resurfacing and new nets.  “We won’t close them all at once. [DPW Supervisor Joe Dean] ordered the supplies Monday. It’s a busy time and my hope is that they can address three of them before June. Once they’re done, the other three will be done.” 

Smith said the parks initiative is in a holding pattern because a cost factor has to be developed that would account for Shorefront Park’s possible transition from bulkheading to a passive shoreline. “We feel that will be very expensive,” he said. “Once we attain that figure, we can look at the whole picture; at what we need to do and have to do and attach costs to that. I think Shorefront will be relegated to next year.”

To help with funding, Smith said the village is writing a New York State Consolidated Funding Grant for improvements to Father Tortora Park. “We used $500,000 of the $5 million for the theatre’s seating, just under $500,000 for Roberto Clemente Park,” he said. “That leaves the rest for parks and money has been subjected to the architects,” he said. The hope was to start several projects in 2017 including Belzak Park, and the remainder of the Four Sisters. “What can change is the parking field and small baseball field behind Four Sisters,” he said. “It could be a play area and possible ball park.”