Editorial: Many Hands

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While blessed with a beautiful waterfront, the residents of Sag Harbor do not enjoy the same abundant amount of green space. So, we make do with what we have, which includes Mashashimuet Park, the largest area for recreational activity in the Sag Harbor area.

The park was gifted to the Sag Harbor community by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, whose mission, in part, was aimed at “the mental and physical development and improvement of children and young people as a means of equipping them for good citizenship.” For nearly 100 years, the park has been run by a board charged with looking after that mission, and just this year, the park board pushed forward with construction of a new playground that lately, as the weather has improved, has been packed full of smiling children.

The cost of the playground was substantial, in the neighborhood of $375,000, and a portion of that balance is outstanding. A formal ribbon-cutting celebration is planned for Saturday, May 4, with a fundraising campaign still very much in need of support.

In addition to private donations, the park benefits from arrangements with the Sag Harbor School District, which pays to use the fields for fall and spring sports, and the tennis facility, which also generates rental income. Other groups like Little League and the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) use the park during the spring and summer months and leaders of those organizations have grown increasingly more dedicated to helping improve Mashashimuet Park, especially when it comes to baseball and softball.

The new leaders of the Sag Harbor Whalers, which is the original collegiate baseball team on the East End, understandably have a difficult time separating the collegiate league from the children who use the park on a more regular basis. They are parents first and foremost who are now helping run operations for the collegiate Whalers. Their hope is to work with the park board on improvements that would come entirely through donations or funding from the HCBL, and they already have accomplished a few projects, including the renovation of a Little League baseball field to make it regulation. They have plans to replace an old batting cage and have other projects on the radar intended to make the experience of watching collegiate baseball games better for everyone involved.

Their real drive, however, is to use the HCBL as a way to make the park more enjoyable for the children who use it year round, which is consistent with the park’s mission. Improved baseball and softball facilities will benefit everyone from Little Leaguers on up to Pierson’s varsity programs. Since the park is a private entity, there are hurdles to clear and other sides to consider. But just as Mrs. Sage wanted to use the park as a path to good citizenship for children, it’s nice to see the park board working with outside groups to improve one of the true jewels of the Sag Harbor community.

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