Those assurances came at a recent meeting at the administrator's office in Cruz Bay with representatives of the church and of the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department that has provided maintenance for the field.
"The information we were getting was that the Moravian Church wanted everybody off of their property," Harley said. "But we were told at that meeting that at no time the Moravian Church planned to put the government off."
Many Coral Bay residents view the spacious green field at the intersection of Routes 10 and 107 as the social center of their community. It has been used over the years by after-school athletic programs, soccer clubs, golfers, the Labor Day Festival Committee, religious revivalists, Boy Scouts, music festival promoters and local baseball leagues.
Concern had grown in recent few months that church officials would sell the field to developers who reportedly had plans to build condominiums.
"There was a contract from 1976 that former governor Cyril King signed, for 20 years, and that was up in 1996," Harley said. "Since that, there's no contract; they've been working month to month. Now, the reality is the government is in arrears in payments."
Citing the need for recreational space in Coral Bay, Housing, Parks and Recreation officials are negotiating terms for the continued use of the field while a new lease is pursued. Harley said he would favor a two-year lease until arrangements can be worked out for a longer- term agreement.
"In the meantime there's supposed to be a letter coming from the church to Housing, Parks and Recreation so that we can continue using the facilities," he said. That would include maintaining the field, he added, "because somebody was even told not to cut the grass."