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Members of New Hyde Park community upset over non-village residents fee to use Memorial Park

Long Island village institutes park admissions fee, angering nearby non-residents
Long Island village institutes park admissions fee, angering nearby non-residents 02:17

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. -- As summer begins, frustrations are boiling over on Long Island, where a village park has implemented admission fees for non-residents.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, parents and children just outside of the village of New Hyde Park say the new fees are ruining neighborhood unity.

She spoke to teenagers who said they used to gather inside Memorial Park, but not anymore.

"We can't go here anymore. Half of us aren't part of the village," eighth grader Kaiden Chew said.

"I'm a block off of the cutoff," eighth grader Mason Bernadelli added.

Non-residents of the village of New Hyde Park must now pay $10 per person per day.

"For my family, it would cost us about $40. If I want to bring my mother, their grandmother, it would be $50. I can't afford that, if I want to come here several times a week," North New Hyde Park resident Hayley Di Rico said.

"What this move is doing is fracturing a community in one public policy. You're creating us and them," North New Hyde Park's Laura Detke added.

Kids in the same zip code go to school together and for generations no one checked residency to use the park, but now the gates are locked and IDs are required. Only kids under 5 get in for free.

"I live right there. I touch the park, practically, so it's like putting a carton of ice cream in front of a child and saying, sorry, you can't go," North New Hyde Park resident Kimberly Middlebrook said.

"One neighbor to the right of you can be a village resident and one to the left of you is not and it's just weird. I don't understand. We are one community," resident Tina Creado said.

"Our intention was never to exclude non-residents, but we have to understand that park exists and the cost and the maintenance exists because our village residents pay for it," New Hyde Park Mayor Christopher Devane said.

Devane said village residents had a tax increase to pay for park upgrades, yet for years non-village park users have paid nothing.

"If we are all one community, then shouldn't we all bear the costs of playing in the park?" Devane said.

He says 60 percent of park users don't pay village taxes.

"This cannot continue," Devane said.

"He got a grant from Nassau County. I pay Nassau County taxes, last time I checked," Middlebrook said.

Families are asking for a compromise to keep the community together.

Opponents plan to attend a village meeting Thursday night and ask for some sort of affordable annual pass. The mayor said this is the first he's heard of any willingness of those outside the village to pay anything to use the park. He said a solution requires some give and take.

The residents-only policy in the park has actually been around since 2012, but it was never enforced. The mayor says 10 years is a long enough grace period.

People out of the 11040 zip code are required to pay $15 per day per person to use the park. Residents' guests cost $5.    

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