Rhinebeck planners review environmental impact of Thompson-Mazzarella park expansion

A joint public hearing by the Rhinebeck town and village planning boards on Sept. 17 addressed the environmental impact of Phase 1 of the Thomas-Mazzarella Park expansion plans.

With nearly 50 people in attendance — ranging from architects and engineers to ornithologists and soccer coaches — it became clear at the hearing that the park expansion is still a subject of heavy debate within the Rhinebeck community.

Mike Trimble, chairman of the town planning board, explained that the purpose of the combined meeting was only to review the site plan for environmental purposes, at the town board’s request.

Therefore, he said, “…it should be recognized any comment that might be made this evening on the master plan for the TTSM [Thomas Thompson-Sally Mazzarella] park, as adopted by the town board, will have been made before the wrong agencies…The Town of Rhinebeck board is the lead agency under SEQR. Neither our planning boards in the town or the village can make the SEQR determination; the Town Board has to do that.”

Though most speakers seemed excited about the prospect of the park expansion, many voiced complaints about the under-utilization of the land for recreational purposes. The master plan calls for one soccer/lacrosse field, two baseball fields and a skate park.

In earlier hearings on the park expansion plans, a number of residents had urged town officials to expand the number of playing fields.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Linda Murray, a soccer coach, again sought additional fields, citing an environmental assessment form from 2009. It said, “The need for additional recreational spaces, especially playing fields, has grown with the population. In addition, the types of fields needed are changing since there is more diversity and interest in girls’ sports and various adult leagues.”

The application was given a positive recommendation by the town planning board at the end of the meeting, with Richard Murray voting in opposition.

The public hearing will continue on Tues., Oct. 22 at 7:30pm in Rhinebeck Village Hall.

Correction: Our Sept. 25 print edition of this story stated that there are three planned baseball fields, in fact there are two.

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