Lawsuit filed to stop Freeport from selling sports field to developer

Chanteé Lans Image
Friday, August 26, 2022
Lawsuit filed to stop Freeport from selling sports field
A lawsuit has been filed to stop the town of Freeport from selling its sports field to developers to build a distribution warehouse.

FREEPORT, New York (WABC) -- Controversy is brewing on Long Island over a baseball field that developers want to turn into a massive warehouse.

The New York attorney general is now stepping in and hoping to keep the field open for the young players who use it.

"It means a lot to me, we've been here for a very long time, blood shed and tears for this field," said football player Jaheem Clenant.

The Freeport varsity football players were practicing at Cleveland fields between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway on Friday.

The field is available for all school district sports, including high school and middle school for sports like football, soccer, baseball, and lacrosse.

Last month, Freeport village trustees voted to rezone the 9.6 acres of land and sell it to California-based developer, Panattoni Group, for $49 million.

"Growing up, I played on this field so it's like a tradition that everybody as a kid wanted to do, and to have it gone, it like it hurts," said football player Landon Daley.

A lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in Mineola to challenge the sale.

In the lawsuit, James challenges the sale based on an environmental review, citing the destruction of open green space and community recreation space, as well as increased storm water flooding and increased truck traffic air pollution.

Freeport attorney Christian Browne says the sale would reduce the Village tax by 20% over four years, or about 5% a year.

"The petition they've filed sounds rather political to me," Browne said.

But, Freeport schools attorney John Gross says not so fast. The school district has a binding legal agreement with the Village to keep its use for the schools.

"The Village is strenuously claiming that our easement and our use is not valid, which we say is made out of whole cloth," Gross said.

The Village wants to move the school district practices to Cow Meadow Park on the south side of Freeport, further away from the high school.

"It's gonna be harder for us to get to practice on time. Some of us stay after school for extra help, because we want to get an education," said Daley.

There is also public housing nearby and community activists say the green space will benefit those residents.

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