The new year brings forth a new partnership between the Village of Croton-on-Hudson and the Croton Harmon Union Free School District. On January 3, 2006, during the regularly scheduled Village Board of Trustees meeting, a resolution was passed without objection and comes in response to a proposal from the Croton Harmon Board of Education to share 50% of the Village’s expenses for maintaining two new ball fields (slideshow) at Croton Point Park. The newly-renovated fields, paid for by Westchester County, include a baseball diamond and another multi-purpose area – complete with goal posts – which is well-suited for Field Hockey, Football, La Crosse and Soccer.
According to this new resolution, “The Village of Croton on Hudson received a permit from Westchester County authorizing the Village to maintain and manage the new ball fields at Croton Point Park for the 2005 fall season.” As a result of passage, Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt is now authorized to sign the agreement with the school district for the utilization of the fields at Croton Point Park.
After passage of the measure, Trustee Leo Wiegman said, “I think it’s good that the school board took the step of putting this in writing. And, I think those fields are important.”
The Village of Croton-on-Hudson Department of Parks and Recreation, headed by Supervisor Sue Menz, will be responsible for providing administrative support for managing the new fields. However, in a memo (download) to Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, Villages Trustees and Village manager Rick Herbek, which was presented at a Village Board Work Session Meeting held on December 12, 2005, Recreation Supervisor Sue Menz expressed many reservations about taking responsibility for the Croton Point ball fields.
In her memo (download), Ms. Menz wrote, “With the Recreation and Parks Department being responsible for new trails in the Village, and working towards a new ball field at Croton Landing, the Village Board cannot expect us to administer and maintain these sites, plus provide programs, at our current full-time staffing levels. Our full-time professional staff must be increased to handle the increased work load.”
Further Ms. Menz cautioned, “Although we may charge user fees to recoup some of our costs, the user fees would be too high if we planned to cover all of our costs; therefore, the remainder of the burden will be felt by Croton Village taxpayers. Either way, the cost is still being felt by the community of Croton through the community groups and school-district user fees, and resident tax dollars. If the county were to manage the fields and bathroom, only the users are paying the fees, while the remainder of the costs are being felt by all of the residents of Westchester County, not simply Village of Croton residents.” She also adds, “Remember, as county ball fields, they must be available to all county groups who request permission to use them; therefore, Village residents would be paying for the wear and tear that these groups have on the fields too.”
In conclusion of her memo, Ms. Menz acknowledges the need for additional fields and suggested, “Finally, we know the Croton community groups and School District need field space, yet these two re-furbished fields at Croton point are available whether the County of Village manages them. These groups could go directly to the County to get permits for these fields without creating a burden on the Village government.”
During the meeting and seen on the video clip, Village Manager Rick Herbek did point out that “the water costs are something that we are going to work out because that could be a significant cost”. Trustee Leo Wiegman asked if “they (Westchester County) are in agreement to install a separate water meter?” And added, “They complained that the water bill was too high. We said it was too high because the sprinklers were broken and they didn’t fix them. It makes perfect sense.”
Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt concurred with Trustee Wiegman by saying “They should have put that on right away. It would have helped them detect they had a problem. Still without the separate water meter, I think the bills were quite high in terms of water usage out there. We’ll have to evaluate that as we get the information back from the County to see where we are going to be on that. This is just getting us to the point of really just making the agreement with the school on this part of the agreement with them.”