Fields of their own?

Another park expansion hearing is scheduled for 6:30pm on Dec. 17

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A Rhinebeck soccer coach wants players have a place to call their own.

Proposed expansion plans for the in-town Thomas Thompson-Sally Mazzarella Park include a community center, concessions, restrooms, expanded trails, parking lots, two baseball fields and one field for soccer and lacrosse.

But Linda Murray, the secretary of the Rhinebeck Soccer League and parent of two children in the school district, wants space set aside for a few more soccer fields.

The soccer league, which includes a recreational team and several boys’ and girls’ modified, junior varsity and varsity teams, shares fields with lacrosse and field hockey players from various area schools. All the teams use “loaner” fields around Rhinebeck: off Stone Church Road, at the Baptist Home, and at Chancellor Livingston Elementary School.

“[The Thompson-Mazzarella Park] is our only rec park in Rhinebeck,” Murray said, adding that she feels the teams should have a central location at the town’s recreational park. She is asking the park committee to set aside space for several fields in the future instead of only one.
Mike Trimble, the chairman of the town planning board who was on the park committee as board liaison when the expansion master plan was being drafted, appeared doubtful about her request.

“As a park, it is not being developed for a specific group of people,” he said, adding, “the park needs to meet the needs of everyone. It’s not just for athletics.”

Trimble said that seniors who like to stroll on trails and ecologists who want to study the area have as much right to use the park as school athletes. “There are areas in the park that have tremendous ecological value,” he added.

He also noted that in the past, members of the Rhinebeck Soccer League have been on the Thompson-Mazzarella Park committee and were involved in the expansion plans.

In addition, there are archeological and agricultural zones that protect portions of the park and limit available space for recreational facilities. Prehistoric artifacts and tools estimated to be 5,000 years old have been found there and some grant money is contingent on those areas being left undisturbed until there are monies for a proper excavation.

The park also includes farmland for “the last existing remaining dairy farm in Rhinebeck,” said Trimble.

“We’re not asking for anything that not already in the master plan,” Murray said. “Everything we’re asking for is consistent with all of the documents.”

Trimble pointed out that “there has been a series of public hearings [on changing the site plan] on this throughout the process.”

But Murray countered that there were two hearings in 2009 as the master plan was being developed.

More recently, she said, several community members spoke in favor of reserving space for extra soccer fields at a town planning board meeting Nov. 2.

Another park expansion hearing is scheduled for 6:30pm on Dec. 17 at the Rhinebeck Town Hall.

Murray said town and village planning board members will be present, and she urged residents to show up “for all the interests of the community to be represented.”

“We tried very hard to support the master plan,” said Trimble. “We really believe the master plan meets the needs of everyone. All needs had to be met, but there has to be compromise.”

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