That’s what Seaford Little League and other child and adult baseball leagues across the county were told to do last week — after an issue regarding fees for county parks was resolved.
Seaford parents, whose children were excited to begin the Little League season, were thrilled — though some remained frustrated that it was even a possibility that the leagues wouldn’t be able to continue.
The Nassau County Legislature unanimously passed a law on March 26 that essentially overturned County Executive Laura Curran’s decision to charge nonprofits to use county athletic fields. Curran had said the revenue was needed to help close a multi-million-dollar budget deficit.
The new legislation now awaits Curran’s approval.
The county executive’s move at the end of February moved the Seaford community to rally to make sure the 640-member Seaford Little League could play as scheduled this season — despite the $16,000 bill it received from the county. Nonprofit sports teams and other groups had been long granted fee waivers to use county parks.
At the first rally, County Legislators Steve Rhoads and Rose Walker announced that they had proposed legislation that barred Curran from charging the nonprofit leagues. It was approved by the entire board of lawmakers.
Seaford Little League President Steve Brown confirmed last week that the league was granted the permits once again to use Washington Avenue Park in Seaford and other county facilities — thanks to the legislation.
“The kids will play ball as scheduled,” Brown said. “Let’s hope the county executive signs the bill.”
Opening day for the League is April 14 at Seamans Neck Park. There will be a parade through Seaford, starting behind Beach Bum Tanning, at 3876 Merrick Road beginning at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, the 7-year-old team practiced at Washington Avenue Park on March 28. Jill Caroll, a Seaford mother of three, attended the practice with her 7-year-old twins — a boy and a girl — and her 5-year-old son, and said she was relieved that Little League play would go on as scheduled. She said that Curran’s fee mandate was “nerve-racking, because sports are expensive enough.”
So, too, she said, is being a parent on Long Island.
“To either charge the families more or to have them play less games would have been unfortunate,” Caroll said. “We pay a lot of money in taxes here.”
Seaford parent Jessica Schlitter echoed her fellow mom’s sentiments.
“This is my daughter’s first year playing, and she’s so excited,” Schlitter said. “She’s been asking to play ever since she could talk. To think that her opportunity could have been hindered by this ridiculous fee was heartbreaking.”
Asked if she would sign the new bill, Curran’s spokesman, Michael Martino, released a statement that read: “The financial impact of the legislation cannot be determined until the criteria is reviewed by the parks department and the Office of Legislative Budget Review.”
Representatives of a half dozen senior men’s and children’s sports leagues testified at the legislative meeting, urging passage of the law. They said the thousands of dollars in extra fees they would have to pay would cripple their ability to continue providing recreational programs for thousands of children and adults throughout the county.
The fees have been waived for non-profit sports leagues for at least the last two county administrations.
Under the current law, charging the fees is at the discretion of the commissioner of parks, recreation and museums. The new law would prohibit the commissioner from charging fees to organizations serving Nassau County’s youth and senior populations or for charitable purposes.
“This was a clear issue of right versus wrong,” Legislator Steve Rhoads said, “and it’s encouraging that, together, we were able to correct the wrong that was about to be done to these groups by the Curran administration.”