Great Neck Park District weighs limitation on drones

The Island Now

The Great Neck Park District Board of Commissioners is considering a proposal to prohibit the recreational use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, at park district facilities.
 If adopted, the new regulations would ban drones both on and above park district property unless a permit was obtained, said Robert Lincoln, a  commissioner.
“The idea is that nobody gets hurt, nothing gets damaged and nobody is unnecessarily annoyed,” Lincoln said.
While the rule would generally ban drones, he said, certain uses  would be permitted.
Someone looking to use a drone would have to submit an application to the park district, which would detail the purpose of its use, time and location of use, certification of proper insurance, an assurance that no people or property will be injured or damaged and an assurance that the user will follow the requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Lincoln said one example of a permitted use would be for a photographer to take wedding photos with a drone at Steppingstone Park.
The park district has jurisdiction up to 400 feet above ground level, so the rules would apply to drones flying below that level.
Also, a person operating a drone that is not flying over park district land cannot be on park district property while controlling it.
“I want to say that this pretty much parallels what has been done in many areas,” Lincoln said. “There are places where they are banned completely, but there are other areas where if you get the permit and play by the rules and it’s a legitimate activity, it’s permitted.”
The new regulation will be discussed at the next board meeting.
The board is not required to hold a public hearing, Lincoln said, but the three commissioners welcome any public input from residents.
Also at the meeting, the board approved the purchase of 40 LED light bulbs for the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink.
The park district superintendent, Jason Marra, said the new lights would cost the district $19,920, or $498 per light fixture.
But, Marra said, PSEG provides a $200 rebate for each light, which means the district would get back $8,000.
Lincoln said the LED lights would provide the same lighting, a “bright white color,” that the current bulbs emit.
He said that the new lighting decreases the currently used 400-watt bulbs to 150-watt LED bulbs.
Lincoln also said the bulbs’ color temperature would remain at 4,000 Kelvin.
A Great Neck resident, Amy Glass, said that she was concerned about the use of LED lights.
“All the latest research shows that we really shouldn’t be going above 3,000 K,” Glass said. “Just because everybody is doing or everyone has done it in the past doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to make it better or more healthy for the public.”
She said research conducted by doctors and optometrists shows that children were “more susceptible” to the effects of LED blue-lights, which could cause retina damage and disrupt sleep schedules.
Judy Rosenthal, a Great Neck resident, said the American Medical Association recently stated that LED lights could have a negative effect on public health.
“High-intensity LED lighting designs emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye and create worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting,” AMA officials said in a news release last month. “Discomfort and disability from intense, blue-rich LED lighting can decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard.”
Rosenthal said that the board should reconsider installing LED lights because of their cost-effectiveness and look at the public health risks.
“You bring this to our community and you are exposing the public, children and adults to these issues,” she said. “That is a concerning thing because we can’t run away from here. This is where we live, this is our home”
Lincoln said that the LED lights would save the district $14,000 per year.
He said that there are filters underneath the bulbs so the light is not bare, and that the lights are frequently used at athletic facilities such as ice skating rinks and baseball fields.
Lincoln said that the ice skating rink has had sample lights up for the past two months and that they have not led to any complaints.
“I think we have done our due diligence for this application,” he said. “We need to move forward so that we have them delivered and installed for the ice season.”
The Great Neck Park District includes all Great Neck villages and unincorporated areas with the exception of Great Neck Estates, Harbor Hills, Lake Success, Saddle Rock and University Gardens.

By Joe Nikic

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