Dec 27 2019

The Garden City News: Village lease to add parking at Stewart athletic fields

Cyril Smith has forwarded this week's article on the Village of Garden City's plans for the Motor Parkway section west of Raymond Court.


Howard Kroplick

The Garden City News

Village lease to add parking at Stewart athletic fields

December 26, 2019


The Village of Garden City will be providing 45 additional parking spaces near the Stewart Field park, after signing a lease agreement with Nassau County, the Board of Trustees announced during a December 12th work session.

The Board also discussed a the possibility of creating new 100 yard synthetic playing field at Community Park since the existing one is in heavy demand.

Stewart Field lease

A lease for the village’s use of a stretch of Nassau County property behind Stewart Field, adjacent to Stewart School in the easternmost section of Garden City, has finally been executed after plans were first brought up at a Board meeting on December 6, 2018.

“We finally got the Nassau County Legislature to sign the lease agreement with the Village. We will clear out decades of overgrowth and vegetation immediately north of Stewart Field (part of the circa 1908 Vanderbilt Parkway) and we will make this a half-park/half-parking area. Once it is cleared out village staff can begin creating the commemorative signage and park area for the Vanderbilt Parkway,” Trustee Brian Daughney explained.

Garden City’s Superintendent of Public Works Joseph DiFranciso said the DPW expects to have bid specs in to the village’s Purchasing Department by January 31, 2020.

“Hopefully we can advertise either by February 7 or February 14 which would allow us to do a bid opening by about February 28 or the first week in March. If so we would be able to award this project at the March 19 Village Board of Trustees meeting. If we did that and started work in early April it should take between two and four weeks to complete, finishing this project by late April or the start of May at the latest,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Robert Bolebruch raised a point about installations of lighting for the new parking spaces, as he recalled when his children played, parents picked up kids after practices “as nightfall hit quickly and kids and adults need to be able to see and be safe.”

Trustee John Delany, a representative of the East POA along with Trustee Mark Hyer, said another aspect of the parking area and Vanderbilt Motor Parkway restoration should address signage on Raymond Court.

“We need to make sure that when we put the parking spaces back there that we recognize if people living on Raymond Court have more traffic going in and out of the area that we take steps to stop the ways they were overwhelmed with people illegally parking on Raymond Court itself. New parking spaces and appropriate signage installed should alleviate that problem,” Delany said.

Mayor Theresa Trouvé noted for DPW Superintendent DiFrancisco that both signage to locate the parking for Stewart Field and interpretive historical signage along the Long Island Motor Parkway would be part of the project in spring and she herself will work with others on the historical signage The Village of Garden City plans to erect informational sign boards to commemorate the history of the Motor Parkway, the first road in America designed for automobile use and built in 1908 during the Queens/Long Island (William K.) Vanderbilt Cup Races.

“I have a big interest in seeing this through to completion with how our historical signage shapes out. It is really exciting to have something commemorative like that happen ad we want to do as good a job with that as we possibly can,” the mayor commented.

Trustee Hyer then recognized and thanked two gentlemen sitting in the audience at the Board meeting, longtime residents (former village historian) Cyril Smith as well as current Village Historian William Bellmer, for their efforts to document and collect information on the original Long Island Motor Parkway. In May 2019 Bellmer presented on the Garden City section of the Motor Parkway and “the Role of Garden City” in the parkway’s operation until 1939 to an audience at the Bethpage Library, with an evening organized by the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society (reported in The Garden City News on May 23, 2019). An inaugural meeting of founders of the Vanderbilt Cup Races took place at the Garden City Hotel in 1906 as consideration of building the Parkway came under scrutiny.

Football Field Crunch?

During the work session Trustee Louis Minuto asked if the village’s Recreation and Parks department could work on planning a new footprint for the football field at Stewart Field as he sees it “squeezed in behind the baseball diamonds” now. Minuto says from the football field’s 20-yard lines players would run off into the base paths of the baseball diamond infield.

“Definitely I have watched some kids playing turn their ankles on that section. Now that we would allocate more space in the rear of Stewart Field the football field should shift about 20 yards back. That may not seem significant but there exists a weird playing condition right now as football teams would be shifting onto baseball infields that have a significant rise from the ground. If a football player is hauling down running on the field and they reach that infield it’s an injury waiting to happen,” Minuto explained. The clearest example of what Minuto described was often visible at the NFL’s Oakland Raiders home games played atop the Oakland A’s infield at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in California, and Sunday December 15 marked the very last time the NFL would play there.

Paul Blake, chair of the Rec. Commission and superintendent of Recreation and Parks, says unfortunately the configurations of Stewart Field do not allow staff to move the football field up north another 20 yards.

“If we go north 20 yards we’d then be on the infield of the north baseball diamond. We’re just really tight there for space. By the way the football field featured a total of six games there this past fall and we are hopeful to move every game to Community Park there next fall,” he said.

Trustees debated why each football game was not scheduled for Community Park to free up Stewart Field and avoid the cramped playing surfaces. Blake informed them that the village Recreation did not control all schedule making because the league operates “with a multi-town schedule” but Rec. did make the league aware it’s preferable they schedule all official games in Garden City at Community Park in fall 2020. The fall does coincide with scheduling for boys’ and girls’ soccer as that can create some logjams for games.

“The Nassau County league schedules all the games and we are hopeful games will be planned for Community Park and we would hope to not use Stewart Field for games next fall,” he said.

New Turf Field?

Trustees also discussed the potential of the village building another 100-yardplus, multipurpose and multi-sport synthetic turf playing field in addition to the one opened a few years ago at Community Park. The discussion took shape as one work session led into the next on December 12, with a separate topic dedicated to potential capital projects that could be part of the Village of Garden City’s 2020-’21 budget.

Paul Blake specified the potential of a new, multipurpose turf field as being one investment the village and Rec. Department must take a good look at, whether now or in the next four or five years. Blake advised the Board that the Recreation Department has had to schedule games and teams on the multipurpose field tightly, however no requests from youth sports leagues in the village have been turned down to date and Rec. “has been able to accommodate all the village’s youth groups and make our schedule run like clockwork.” At times Rec. had to turn away some potential outside renters of the new field.

“Obviously with our 100-yard-plus turf field at Community Park we are seeing increased usage because more people and groups want to schedule to be on the multipurpose field. Whether we do one at Stewart Field or perhaps putting one at Community Park going across two outfields is something we need to take a look at. We first need to speak with our youth sports groups in Garden City to see what their own enrollment projections are and demographics are going forward. But there’s no question that it is possible we could see this second multipurpose field come forward as a capital project for the village in the next couple of years,” Blake explained.

Trustee Minuto said each time he has been to the multipurpose field at Community Park it is packed, and he is eager to see the data and projections on usage to help Rec. plans evolve.

Trustee Daughney noted to his fellow Board members, “it all depends on what we do with St. Paul’s.” He briefly mentioned the relationship of what is ultimately planned for the St. Paul’s campus as a key to this decision-making and future allocations of space and funding. 


Dec 27 2019 Dave Russo 8:57 PM

Just as I expected: the original LIMP is going to get ripped up and replaced with? Parking spots. Nice.

BUT, they will put a sign there, to tell you what used to be there. Wonderful.

History is always compromised. Hey we need more parking. We need more field space. But the original LIMP is there! The first road ever built for automobiles! What do we do? Put up a historical sign, yes great idea!! Make note of what USED to be here!

It’s a helluva a lot more interesting when the original historical road is in place. Draw attention to it yes. Preserve that for sure. But towns only do this when they get something in return. Nobody cares about history.

Leave a Comment