Last week, Carl Vail, one of the three commissioners of the Cut­ch­ogue-New Suffolk Park District, informed the other two members that he was resigning from the board, effective immediately. 

In a letter to the editor of The Suffolk Times, Mr. Vail explained that work underway at Dave Allison Park at the end of Pequash Avenue in Cut­ch­ogue would “make it harder for disabled people to use the park.”

“While you are comfortable with this, I am not!” he wrote. “I will not work with you in continuing this injustice to our community. So I am resigning as a commissioner of the Cut­ch­ogue-New Suffolk Park District.”

The roots of the dispute go back nearly three years, when the then-commissioners of the district removed spaces for cars to park along the bluff overlooking the bay and planted grass instead. One of the explanations for barring cars from the tiny park was that children used playground equipment close to where cars came in and out.

The park was the scene of placard-carrying protests in the spring of 2022 that demanded the cars be allowed in the park. While there were no designated parking spots, five or so cars had long been allowed to park along the bluff near steps down to the beach.

Since then, while the park remained closed to cars, the commissioners devised a smaller parking area for three cars, one of which would be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. That work is now underway. It was over this plan that Mr. Vail said he resigned.

“Originally, you could drive in, park by the bluff, have dinner there, and look out at the bay,” he said in an interview. “The earlier commissioners decided to close it up. It’s now just a vest-pocket park for people who live nearby … I made a motion to return the parking to its original space. The others opposed it.

“They made the problem worse,” he added. “As of right now, that little area that has been created is to have one handicapped parking space and two other spaces. It’s crazy. It’s sad to have done this.”

David Bergen, one of the other commissioners, said the compromise was to allow parking for only three cars in the front of the park and away from the children’s playground area. He said the district’s insurance company said that if cars were allowed to bisect the park to reach the bluff area, barriers would have to be installed to protect the playground area.

“Carl was against that,” Mr. Bergen said. “He wanted to restore what had been there before. This is a compromise between no parking at all or parking on the bluff and thus bisecting the park with a roadway… Our primary concern with this project was the safety and security of the park users and that to meet Carl’s demand of restoring the car access and open parking would pose a serious risk for all users of the park.”

He said he and the other board member, Pat Kelly, could appoint someone to fill Mr. Vail’s spot, with a special election then being held in December.

“We accepted Carl’s resignation and thanked him for his service,” Mr. Bergen said.

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