Mashashimuet Park's athletic fields are under consideration for improvement by the Sag Harbor Board Of Education.

Many members of the public and the school board are concerned about the next steps as the school’s current contract with Mashashimuet Park expires at the end of June. In the event another contract is inked, the board wants improved fields, including the baseball and softball fields that have been used by the school's teams for years — along with a restroom, described by Alex Kriegsman as "state prison level" of cleanliness and quality.

”I think the perception is that the district has gotten a raw deal on the Mashashimuet Park contract,” he said. "It's hard to see what the public is receiving in return for the money. The Little League fields in this place are nothing like those in other cities. There should be a discussion about what was done with the public's money."

Furthermore, he suggested that the district looks into whether any host locations could be found in East Hampton or Southampton for a relatively modest cost. The aging and subpar facilities at the Mashashimuet Park sitting in the area of Sag Harbor, coupled with the fact that it lacks enough fields to accommodate the district’s middle school, junior varsity and varsity teams, has revived a previous debate about the district’s sports facilities.

The installation of artificial turf playing surfaces has always caused controversy because of fears about the crumb rubber, a component of the multipurpose playing surfaces that is used for all weather conditions that can cause cancer or other detrimental health effects. Even so, they have become more and more common during the last two decades. Over the past few years, synthetic turf has become very popular on Long Island’s East End, in part because it eliminates issues of wear and tear from natural grass and dirt, and is more resilient to adverse weather conditions.

The park board president, Greg Schiavoni, also attended the meeting. He said the athletic fields at the park are kept in a good condition by park employees, who restrict access to them for other groups, but pointed out that the sports teams use them daily from March 9 through May 7. There are 31 school sporting events scheduled for the park this year, with six days being occupied by two or more events at the same time.

Mr. Dehler put athletic director Eric Bramoff on the spot by asking his opinion concerning the quality of the playing fields at the park, as well as the sports fields behind the high school, asking him to compare them to all other sports facilities in the region.

The board members suggested that there should be a continued collaboration between the school and park to upgrade the fields and facilities to give the student-athletes a better experience. However, the group offered little in the form of opinions on reviving the turf debate. Many in the public agree that it is worth taking another look at, suggesting that it won't go away.


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