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Basketball court project “certainly not dead” as work to secure additional funding continues

Village by: Chrissy Ruggeri, February 10, 2023

The prospect of a new Cow Harbor Park basketball court remains on the table, despite a current lack of funding to complete the project as first envisioned.

The 1995 Northport High School championship basketball team has become used to hurdles. Their efforts to revitalize the courts at Cow Harbor Park began in July 2021, and the process has been a roller coaster ever since. The project isn’t lacking community support or a detailed, professional plan and bid to contractors. Right now, it’s lacking funds.

Bids for the “Northport Cow Harbor Park Basketball Court and Landscape Improvement” project were publicly opened on January 31; cost proposals far exceed the $140,000 raised for the initiative. Project organizers brought in $65,000 with a community GoFundMe campaign, and Senator James Gaughran’s office supplied an additional $75,000 grant.

Of the four bids received by the Village of Northport, the lowest was $336,700 from Green Velvet Landscaping of Bay Shore. Other bids include one for $366,200 from Laser Industries Inc.; $498,000 from The LandTek Group; and $589,985 from KJB Industries.

At the February 7 Northport Village board meeting, Trustee Meghan Dolan, who has been spearheading the project and working closely with the 1995 basketball team, responded to concerns about the project meeting a dead-end due to the unexpectedly high bids. She assured residents that the project is “certainly not dead, but alive and kicking.”

“We are moving quickly to secure additional sources of funding and hopefully we’ll know pretty soon,” Dolan said, adding that everyone, including the 1995 team and Mayor Koch, remains excited about the court and landscape improvements. “The wheels are in motion,” she said.

Yesterday evening, Dolan and fellow trustee Dave Weber met with the Environmental Open Safe and Park Fund Advisory Committee (EOSPA) to discuss the project. Doug Trani, a member of the 1995 NHS basketball team and project organizer, presented the plan to the committee.

The EOSPA is charged with the duty of advising and recommending to the Huntington town board the use of bond funds for park and open space acquisitions and improvements, neighborhood enhancements, and energy efficiency improvements. Huntington voters last replenished the open space fund in 2008, with $15 million. According to a Newsday article published in December 2022, Town Supervisor Ed Smyth and town officials are prepared to spend approximately $4.2 million at several facilities this year, including at Kew Avenue Park in East Northport. Funding for town park projects will come, in part, from the Environmental Open Space and Park Fund.

Trustee Dolan told the Journal in an interview Friday morning that the EOSPA committee was enthusiastic about the basketball court and landscape project. “There was an extremely positive reaction from the committee and productive conversation with both the committee members and Huntington Deputy Supervisor John McCarron on how the Village and town can work together to complete this project,” she said.

“We not only appreciate the encouragement of the EOSPA committee, but we are thrilled at the personal involvement of Deputy Supervisor McCarron,” project organizer Trani told the Journal after presenting to the committee and Deputy Supervisor last night. He believes that the plan will vastly improve an existing recreational space, which he says is in line with the town’s priorities.

“From the beginning, this project has been about teamwork, and our team is growing. My high school classmates and I are one part of the team. Mayor Koch and the Village board are another part. The hundreds of residents of Northport and the broader Town of Huntington who donated their money to this project are another part of the team,” Trani explained. “We are honored to have Town of Huntington leadership as the newest member of our team to get this project completed.”

Prospects of the project coming to fruition are optimistic, but the next steps are unclear.

The bids opened on January 31 by the Village will expire March 17, 45 days after officially receiving them. If the additional funding isn’t secured before then, the bidding process will have to start over.

To date, Mayor Koch and the Village board have not publicly discussed using Village funds to supplement the project. The court has been in disrepair for many years and looks as though it isn’t being maintained, with a large crack down the center and more throughout the court, a torn net, and other structural issues.

The state of the court remains in disrepair as Village and TOH officials attempt to secure additional funding for its revitalization.