Hempstead councilman proposes waiving fees for nonprofits

Original Article Source
By Stefanie Dazio, Newsday (March 20, 2018)

The move comes after Nassau County Executive Laura Curran had proposed charging fees to Little Leagues, nonprofits and seniors.

Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito plans to propose legislation next month that would permanently exempt nonprofit Little League teams from paying fees to play on town recreation fields.

D’Esposito’s legislation is in response to a baseball brouhaha over Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s move to charge thousands of dollars in fees to Little Leagues, nonprofits and seniors to use county ballfields that had previously been free for them.

The county parks commissioner has had the discretion to waive the fees for youth leagues and nonprofits since 2014, and Curran declared last week that the county would stop granting the waivers to help Nassau recoup the revenue as it faces a “financial crisis.”

Republican members of the county legislature have introduced a bill to stop the action by Curran, a Democrat from Baldwin. It is to be taken up at the legislature’s meeting next Tuesday.

D’Esposito, a Republican, said in a news release Tuesday that he will seek to schedule a public hearing on his legislation for April 24. The board would need to vote during its next meeting, April 10, to add the hearing to the April 24 agenda.

D’Esposito and the rest of the town board — including Erin King Sweeney, a Republican who served on the county executive’s transition team, and Dorothy Goosby, a Democrat — are opposed to Curran’s idea and backed their colleague’s proposal, according to the news release.

“This legislation is a home run and I am pleased to offer an alternative for field use with no fees at our Town of Hempstead parks so children and their families can continue to enjoy their favorite activities,” the councilman said.

Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, a Democrat, has not commented on Curran’s plan but provided a statement on D’Esposito’s idea.

“We want to thank the councilman for proposing something that the town already does. Next, he’ll be announcing that the town board will be meeting twice a month,” Gillen’s spokesman Mike Fricchione said in a statement, alluding to the fact that the board already meets that often.

The town previously has waived fees for youth and senior groups, according to D’Esposito’s release, and this legislation would describe in more detail the leagues that would be permanently exempt.