Village proposes major upgrades to much-used recreational facility

Some TLC On The Way For Herrick Park




Asphalt tennis courts will be replaced as part of an overall improvement plan for Herrick Park. Independent/Stephen J. Kotz

Herrick Park, in the heart of East Hampton Village, will be getting a makeover.

The village board on Thursday, April 3, reviewed a draft plan for upgrades that would include rebuilding the tennis and basketball courts, updating playground equipment and the children’s play area, improving entryways and paths between the Reutershan and the long-term parking lots, and enhancing lighting and security.

Village Trustee Rosemary Brown, who is leading the effort, said on Friday that the village board will most likely vote on a final request for proposals later this month.

The designer who wins the contract will be asked to hold meetings with the village board and other community groups before proposing a formal plan.

“This started as a beautification project, but we realized it could be improved,” said Brown of the park. “It’s used by so many groups, from young to old, and everyone in between.”

The eight-acre park is owned by the village and leased by the East Hampton School District, which uses it for middle school recreation and sports. Although a budget has not yet been set for the project, the school district typically shares the cost of capital upgrades to the property.

Brown said she would like to see the project designed and completed in time for the village’s centennial celebration next year.

She added that the village has for years asked merchants to direct their employees to park in the long-term lot, but that the long walk through a deserted and dark park at night might be unnerving for some.

“Safety is a concern, and for me it’s at the top of the list,” she said, noting that better lighting, wider openings from both parking lots, and security cameras could go a long way toward making people feel safer.

As part of a longer-range plan that is not included in the current project, the village wants to move the shed near Newtown Lane that is currently used by the village’s traffic control officers and place it near the long-term lot. The asphalt driveway leading to the shed would be removed as well. The village will also look at ways to incorporate portions of property it purchased at the ends of Muchmore and Pleasant lanes into the park space.

Steven Ringel, the executive director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, appeared before the board to ask permission for the chamber to hold a summer fair in the park on August 3.

Ringel said the idea is to create a “country fair” with activities such as three-legged sack races and hot dog and pie-eating contests.

The fair would be like the spring and fall fairs the chamber now holds, “just with a slightly different flavor,” Ringel said, adding that the idea would be to cater to summer visitors and residents with a “family-friendly” event.

The plan would be to have craft vendors, food booths, and entertainment, Ringel said. He asked the board for permission to run the fair from 10 AM to 6 PM so that people coming home from the beach would be able to stop by before going out to shop for eat dinner in the village.

Mayor Paul Rickenbach asked Ringel to first talk with Guild Hall, which now sponsors the Artists & Writers Softball Game, to see if the two events could be held on the same date.

The board also discussed briefly a proposed new law imposing limits on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers by commercial landscapers. Rickenbach asked that language exempting the village, the school district, and the Maidstone Golf Club be removed from the draft law, arguing such organizations should lead by example and pointing out the language could be reinserted after a hearing is held in May.

sjkotz@indyeastend.com