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Ossining, Briarcliff Continue Ryder Park Talks

OSSINING, N.Y. – It took less than 20 minutes for Town of Ossining officials to discuss a growing concern about the rights to Ossining’s Ryder Park Little League fields, but Briarcliff Manor and Ossining Little League officials say it’s going to take a lot longer to resolve.

For more than 50 years, the Briarcliff Little League has maintained and held almost exclusive usage of the first baseball field at Ryder Park , improving the grounds, adding a sprinkler system, painting the dugouts and building a new scoreboard complete with a "Briarcliff Manor Little League" label.

But a few Ossining residents are questioning the league’s right to the field, as it is located in the Town of Ossining . In response to questions voiced at a recent town hall meeting , the Ossining Town Board held a short discussion Tuesday to clarify the town’s policies on the Ryder Park fields.

“We’re simply here to clarify the positions of the teams, to understand each group a little better and move on,” Susanne Donnelly, Ossining town supervisor, said during the meeting.

Tuesday night’s discussion included statements from Parks and Recreation Superintendent Henry Atterbury; Briarcliff Little League past President Pat Maietta; and Dina Murphy, president of Ossining's Jesse A. Collyer Jr. Youth Sports Leagues (JCYS). But town officials never extended the invitation to speak to the rest of the two dozen citizens in attendance.

“It was a little disappointing that no other community members were allowed to speak,” said Ossining resident Matthew Lenaghan. “But I do want to keep positive and I have to say that Henry (Atterbury) has been very helpful in this process and it’s good to know that something is being done.”

Atterbury said during the meeting that each year the fields are divided up based on the needs of the officials with the Briarcliff Little League and the JCYS Little League. While no changes are coming to the fields this year, Atterbury said those discussions will need to continue to ensure that everyone’s needs are met in the future.

“It’s a struggle to meet everyone’s needs,” Atterbury said during the meeting. “We’re trying to balance it out so everyone gets essentially what they need first. And then after everybody’s taken care of, we’ll go to the wants.”

Murphy said she had heard from residents who were concerned about Briarcliff Little League’s use of Ryder Park.

“Hey, that’s the only field they have, essentially, so I’m OK with them using it,” Murphy said. “I’m here for kids to play baseball, and am I going to try to kick kids off of it because someone else doesn’t like it? No. I’m here so that all of the kids can play baseball. But we're going to need to keep meeting and discussing it.”

Maietta, who had served as the head of Briarcliff Little League for 22 years, said he had always understood that Ryder Park’s field was dedicated to Briarcliff.

“We’ve always known that Ryder Park’s first field was dedicated to the use of our Little League. Our Little League has been playing there for 56 years,” he said, adding that he has always enjoyed the relationship with Ossining’s JCYS. “We want to do more to make sure that all kids are having fun playing baseball in our communities.”

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