GREENLAWN, New York, September 18
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Once decades in the making, Coral Park now stands tall in Greenlawn.
The consensus? In its first three months, Coral Park is a slam dunk.
“When we were young, we [always] wanted a park here,” Gina Cox, who lives near the park, said during the first Coral Park Labor Day 4-on-4 Basketball Tournament on Aug. 30. “[Now] the neighbors have constantly been using the park and the basketball court’s going well.”
Both Suffolk County and the Town of Huntington capitalized on the ground’s full basketball court by sponsoring the tournament for kids ages 14-18 alongside the Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct, Suffolk County Police Athletic League (PAL), the New York Knicks, Sierra Landscaping and Applebee’s of Huntington Station.
“I think the tournament was a great way to showcase the park,” Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), a tournament sponsor, said. “I’d like to make it an annual tournament… And, in fact, it went so well that I’m looking to work with some of the [local] churches to have one indoors over the winter [too].”
Along with the Spencer, Huntington Councilwomen Susan Berland and Tracey Edwards cheered on from the sidelines, but politicians weren’t the only ones cheering; residents both near and far made it out for the fun.
“Next time we want the tournament to be even bigger,” Steve Berbine, a Greenlawn resident who often trains young basketball players at Coral Park’s court, said. “The people love the park… They can bring their kids there to play on the swings or soccer in the field while they walk around the track…They’re really enjoying it.”
Serving as a spotlight, the tournament served its purpose to help Coral Park’s universality shine in the public light once again. Ever since it was opened to the public on June 20, the town has prided itself on Coral Park’s ability to appeal to people of all ages with its children’s playground, adult workout area, half-mile jogging track, wide-open field and game tables for chess and checkers. All of these things together have helped get people out to the park on a daily basis.
“If you build it, they will come,” Spencer said of the park. “When you drive by there are young people there constantly… Picnics, kids coming after school… It’s been a tremendous boom for the community.”
However with Coral Park’s success has come a concern for safety. The park, found at the intersection of Broadway-Greenlawn and Leigh Street, does not currently have a traffic signal or stop sign. Traffic passes by while pedestrians cross the street via a crosswalk.
“It’s become so tremendously clear how many people walk there, and I’m still fighting for a traffic light there [at the entrance]… It absolutely should be there,” Berland, a major advocate for the building of the park, said. “Traffic lights are so sophisticated now… Even if it’s on a resting green until someone needs to leave or enter the park… It has to be installed before an accident happens.”
Berland cited Spencer as a key figure in getting the traffic light installed; but it may take longer than she hopes.
“The problem initially wasn’t that Suffolk County didn’t support putting a traffic light there,” Spencer said. “In order to disrupt the flow of traffic we need to warrant it… And before the park was there, very few people were crossing so it failed warrants.”
Now though, Spencer said, with the park being constantly utilized and more pedestrians crossing the road there, he hopes to have a new study conducted next spring. He also said that a traffic light could take the form of a flashing green or yellow, or one that only activates once a button is pressed – in order keep disruption to the flow of traffic at a minimum, while insuring the safety of crossing pedestrians.
Also of concern for the park was the need for a bathroom, which has since been alleviated. While a normal bathroom is not possible at Coral Park – since there are no regulation fields sanctioned by the town for organized play – “porta-potties” have been made available during the summertime.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Long Islander (Thursday, September 18, 2014; A10)