Parks, Fields, and Open Spaces Headline Local Summit Program

By John Bradley


The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit played host to a panel on Tuesday, March 12  to discuss plans for the enhancement and preservation of the parks, fields, and open spaces that support outdoor activities for every age group in the Larchmont-Mamaroneck area.


A panel of three included Ben Foster, Director of Coaching for the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Football Club (LMFC) and Founder and Owner of FosterSoccer; Deborah Maher, Co-President, of Friends of Larchmont Parks and President of Randall’s Island Park Alliance, and Todd Norman, Board Member, Fields for Kids, an organization that advocates and raises funds for high-quality sports and recreational facilities in the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Area. The panel was moderated by Claudine Hutton, a member of the Local Summit Board.


“Today we are here to talk about green spaces and the benefits of recreation for families of all ages… I think we learned from the pandemic—now four years out—how crucial open spaces are to our mental health and our physical health,” Hutton said, striking a theme that was echoed throughout the hour-long discussion.


Of the panelists, Deborah Maher manages the most varied roster of park projects as both a professional and a volunteer. As co-president of Friends of Larchmont Parks, an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization, she works with the Village of Larchmont to “strategically plan and fundraise for projects, which will better our parks for all.” Among the celebrated entries on her list of recent local park projects are Constitution Park and Turtle Park. Friends of Larchmont Parks’ latest project is the upgrade of Willow Park, which is currently in its final stages, and includes enhanced children’s play equipment and a new basketball court.


The three panelists are united in their love of sports and their conviction that team membership and organized play promote strong friendships among students of varied backgrounds along with the valuable experience of shared responsibility.


The current explosion in outdoor activity and local sports has brought new pressures on the local municipal park systems and open spaces. More teams want to play on existing fields more often. Ben Foster reports that “soccer is virtually maxed out,” there being too few fields and playing surfaces to accommodate the demand for team play. Foster’s work with the Mamaroneck Avenue School, which includes scholarships to provide interested students access to soccer instruction, has fueled interest in soccer and an eagerness of many young people, boys and girls, to play. 


Todd Norman reports that his work for Fields for Kids  is also driven by the acute shortage of field space, prompting their continuing search for new fields for sports and the funds to make them suitable for regular play throughout the season. Using their private/public partnership model, Fields for Kids was instrumental in the creation of Flint Park’s Alma Memorial Field in 2008 and the upgrade of the Memorial Field at Mamaroneck High School to turf in 2011. Among the projects that demand his current attention are the returfing and slight lengthening of Alma in Flint Park and plans for transforming the grass field behind Mamaroneck Town Center into a turf field, both targeted for a summer 2024 start date.


While acknowledging the need to find more playing fields, all panelists are united in their desire to add healthy surfaces while balancing the needs of large numbers of kids to be outdoors playing with their teams on reliable fields. Responding to concerns raised by audience members regarding the use of artificial turf vs. natural grass fields, all three panelists acknowledged that while artificial turf allows for much heavier usage of fields, it is far from perfect. They agreed that the choice of field turf is a balancing act and decisions about the material for field turf are not made lightly. 


Asked how interested community members can participate in their efforts, panelists encouraged people to find out more information about the work of their organizations on their websites:


• Fields for Kids:

• Friends of Larchmont Parks:

• Larchmont-Mamaroneck Football Club:



The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit is an informal community council that seeks to make a better life for the community by keeping it informed of major issues of concern. Our next meeting, on April 16, 8 a.m. at the Westchester Jewish Center in Mamaroneck, will focus on our public schools and will feature our two Superintendents of Schools. 


Visit the Local Summit online at or at LMCMedia at