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Turf field plan for Aldrich Lane complex is ‘a dead issue’ after public speaks out

Stock photo: Fotolia

A controversial proposal to install an artificial turf field at the Aldrich Lane athletic complex has been shelved by the Mattituck Park District commissioners.

Commissioner Gerard Goehringer, who had been on the fence about the plan, said taxpayer feedback at a public information meeting last month convinced him the district should not go forward with it.

“It’s a dead issue,” he said in an interview today.

“The purpose of the meeting was to present this to the public, which we did, and get their feedback. They gave us tremendous feedback,” Goehringer said.

Goehringer had been the swing vote on the three-man board of commissioners. He said he initially thought it was “a great idea but a little expensive” and he wanted to hear what the public had to say.

Commissioner Mike Ryan brought the proposal forward and was a staunch advocate, while Commissioner Nick Deegan was an equally staunch opponent.

“I opposed it from the get-go,” Deegan said today. “From a year ago when it was first brought up, I didn’t think it was a good idea, with health issues and environmental issues and the cost involved.”

Residents expressed concerns about potential adverse health effects of materials used as a base layer beneath the turf. Synthetic materials used in the base layer of turf fields raised health concerns, they said.  Though public health agencies, including the N.Y. State Health Department have said the synthetic materials now in use pose no significant health threat, organic base layer materials are now commonly used.

But the cost of a multipurpose turf field was another sticking point. The field would come with an estimated price tag upwards of $750,000 and would likely require the district to borrow the money through bonding.

“I feel very strongly obligated to do the best we can to provide the best level of facilities we can, but there just wasn’t public support for it,” Ryan said in an interview today.

“It doesn’t seem the public is behind any sort of upgrade [at the Aldrich Lane complex] now, let alone a turf field,” Ryan said. “The project has been shelved.”

Goehringer said the district will proceed with “enhancing the present field there, dealing with the parking lot there and building a small addition on the building to include a bathroom facility.”

“We’re going to be doing everything the taxpayers were requesting,” Goehringer said.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.