Roslyn school construction debate at board meeting

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Roslyn High School

The Roslyn school district’s second year of summer construction is off to a rocky start with more discussion and more permits needed to finish the projects.

This summer, the district is working on Roslyn High School parking lots and Harbor Hill School recreational fields with funds from a $40 million capital plan, but both projects showed signs of struggle Tuesday at the district’s Board of Education meeting.

Kaeyer, Garment & Davidson Architects representative Travis Schnell presented plans for three baseball diamonds, two 60-feet Little League fields and one 90-foot field, next to four potential U8 soccer fields.

Schnell said only two of the three fields could be used at one time because of overlap of the outfields. One field is also adjacent to the school’s playground, which was a cause of concern for trustees.

“The concern I have is frankly the foul ball risk for all the children on the playground, and it begs that question, the field in the lower left, is that necessary?” Trustee David Dubner asked.

Schnell said to mitigate foul ball concerns, a 100-foot fence as high as the field’s backstop would be placed between the field and the playground. As of Tuesday night, Schnell said there were also plans for dugout benches and fencing to be placed along the baselines but no plans for bleachers for spectators.

“What about space for spectators?” board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy said. “Understanding Little League, they don’t drive. Parents come. We need stadium seats. They need to sit.”

Schnell said some baselines would be able to accommodate bleachers, but only one field as planned would have a set on both the first and third baselines.

Concerns about the district’s need for soccer and lacrosse fields dominated the discussion, and board Vice President Clifford Saffron and Trustee David Seinfeld said that at least one baseball field could be scrapped and the arrangement could be reconfigured to allow for more rectangular field options.

“In my mind, the needs for the district are not for small fields. We simply do not have enough regulation fields,” Saffron said. “… We need to rethink this. The need is not for four small fields. The need is for two large fields, or at least one, when we have overflow from the middle school and overflow from the high school. I’m less worried about football as I am lacrosse and soccer, that’s really where the needs are.”

“Quite honestly, I have a number of concerns, so I think we need to take a look,” Seinfeld said. “When you put grass on the infield, you’re not accommodating any girls’ softball. Maybe I’m late to the game here, but there are a lot of things I do not want to go forward with because they are not good decisions in my opinion. I think the community is much more in need of soccer and lacrosse fields than baseball fields. We have that nice, beautiful park down in Port Washington that the Little League uses. If anything, I’d be pulling the baseball fields.”

Ben-Levy and Brown said a subcommittee needed to meet within the next week with Athletic Director Michael Brostowski to work through these plans before the reorganizational meeting July 6, the board’s last chance to approve plans without calling a special meeting.

“Let’s also take into consideration, this is an elementary school,” Ben-Levy said. “The first user and the first consumer are the people who go to school there. While it’s very nice that the rest of the district can come out on the weekend, during the day, during the week, during the year, it’s Harbor Hill grades 1 through 5.”

KG&D civil engineer Courtney Riley addressed the board about the high school parking lot project, and said after nearly a year of working with Nassau County, she still does not have a permit for any construction within the right-of-way along Round Hill Road.

“We have an eight- or 10-week window at best for the completion of the high school project, and what happens if, as Nassau County is apt to do, the approvals don’t come through, what is the impact on our ability to open those parking lots to our students at our reconfigured high school right after Labor Day?” Saffron asked Riley.

Riley said any work on school property, including the student drop-off construction as well as paving and striping student and faculty lots, could be completed without Nassau County permits, but the planned crosswalk painting, turn arrow painting and curb-cut closure to the faculty lot would have to wait.

“I’m concerned because school’s out, but school’s back in before we blink,” Ben-Levy said. “You don’t even understand what traffic looks like when you’re talking about new drivers and the excitement of the beginning of school. It’s sometimes unmanageable.”

Riley said she is confident the Nassau County permit will be approved and, either way, the school will be able to open on time in September.

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