Long Island residents furious over high school stadium encroaching on property

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Long Island residents furious over high school stadium encroaching on property
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Kristin Thorne reports on the high school stadium controversy in North Babylon.

NORTH BABYLON, Long Island (WABC) -- Homeowners on Spangle Drive in North Babylon are furious about bleachers for a new high school stadium that are encroaching on their property lines.

"It's horrible," resident Chris Cannella told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne. "I can't even look out my window."

Cannella is renovating his home, and the bleachers are now the primary view from his backyard.

The construction of the new stadium at North Babylon High School began last summer, and the elevated grandstand features 1,200 seats and a press box. It's situated only feet from the backyards of several homes.

Residents said they were never made aware of the construction plans.

"There was no notification whatsoever prior to construction," resident Jack Seaman said.

The superintendent for the North Babylon School District, Glen Eschbach, said following the community-approved bond vote, the district communicated with residents via public presentations, written communications, and photo/video productions.

However, the residents we spoke with said they did not receive any such communication.

"We were not aware of this," said resident Mike Denino, pointing to the bleachers. "If someone would have said, 'You're going to have a huge stadium in your backyard,' obviously people would have been a little more concerned."

Seaman said he never received a letter from the school district.

"Because of the small amount of homeowners that are affected, you would think that they would send this out in a registered letter of some sort," he said.

Cannella said he also did not receive a letter.

"I've asked every single neighbor in the surrounding neighborhood and in the school district that I know, no one has received anything in their mailbox," he said.

The school district said it notified residents of the project in postcards and newsletters. Officials also points to an October 2017 community presentation that depicts the athletic field projects, including the elevated grandstand. The presentation, however, does not indicate the scale or height of the stadium seats.

Eschbach said in a statement to Eyewitness News, "Throughout the process, we continue to update the community on the progress of construction through the district's website and at open meetings. Under the guidance of professional architects and contractors, all construction projects are being completed exactly as planned, designed and presented to the community and with approval from the State Education Department."

Seaman's wife, Barbara Seaman, said she is worried about the privacy of her home.

"I have to keep the curtains closed," she said. "The screen porch is like useless to us. At night, when we have the lights on there, whoever's up there is going to be able to see us."

Cannella said he's concerned about the liability.

"I have a huge concern about my insurance coverage, the coverage that the school has, if they're going to cover me if somebody happens to, God forbid, fall into my yard," he said.

Residents said they are also concerned about the effect the stadium will have on property values. The Seamans are trying to sell their home to move to North Carolina.

"My house, which hopefully is going to go on the market, is not going to sell with this in the backyard," Barbara Seaman said.

At the district's board of education meeting last month, the president of the board said board members would take a walking tour of the construction site to review it and to discuss if any remedy would be necessary to ease the residents' concerns. No formal budgeting has been appropriated for possible remediation efforts, including the construction of a higher fence or the planting of trees, both which would require the use of taxpayer money.

"My main concern is that no one in this whole entire process took a look at this and thought, wow, we have some issues here," Denino said.


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