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'Tis the Season to Love our Town

I love my town and my neighborhood no matter what names it is called.

Two days before Thanksgiving my neighbors and I were informed during a public hearing that our neighborhood in Port Washington was a "slum."  Seriously. That word was used during a public hearing by a Board Member of the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington (RFMBPW).  It was her attempt, I imagine, to justify their proposed redevelopment of 5 blocks of Main Street into new 3-story, 45' high, mixed-use (apartments above retail/parking/commercial) block-sized buildings. So now I find myself writing about this proposal which comes up for a Town of North Hempstead Board vote this Tuesday, December 11 instead of preparing for the holidays, or blogging about gardening, or even more tellingly, concentrating on my stressful day job. This proposal is probably one of the best kept secrets in town, in part because it has been advertised as a beautification or visioning effort and not called what it is, which is a rezoning and redevelopment proposal. But because I love my town and my neighborhood, no matter what names it is called, I have been spending my time doing what the town should be doing and getting the word out about the public hearing.

Those of us who question the densification of Main Street have been called another name, naysayers, by the RFMBPW (do you sense a trend?). However let's be clear - we do not oppose the beautification of Main Street. Please, full steam ahead on that part of the proposal. I have suggested that a business mix analysis be done in order to target businesses that would succeed on our Main Street. The BID should lead the beautification and business attraction as a combined effort. And please add a residential community member as a liaison to ensure ongoing dialogue. Rezoning is not necessary for beautification or business attraction. If it were, then what about the other blocks that are not part of the proposed overlay district? Are we not beautifying and assisting those blocks? Will those be rezoned later? I continue to ask as I have for over a year - what are the real goals of the proposal? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Local Resident December 07, 2012 at 10:45 PM
RFMBPW is to be renamed: "Residents Doing Everything They Can To Get The Rezoning Proposal Passed"...or RDETCTGTRPP for short. On the other hand, at least they got the owner of 42 Main Street to hang brown paper in the windows so we do not have to look at the floorless space or the falling-down posters Residents installed in their "beautification" efforts.
Mary December 08, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Doesn't anyone wonder why the empty lot on lower Main Street was added to the rezoning proposal at the last minute?? Dina DeGeorgio says she has no interest in that property but her husband Joe Delonzo who is the Republican leader of Port Washington still puts all the republican signs on that property. Interesting!!! There must be some connection. Is DeGeorgio really being transparent??
jonathan winant December 08, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Go back nd take a second look your as wrong as can be you have accomplished nothing the building looks like something out of the south bronx in the late sixties making Main Street look terrible
jonathan winant December 08, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Get her and Kaiman out of the picture for good of the community
Port North Resident December 08, 2012 at 05:57 AM
Give me a break just because the property owner allows political signs on their property doesn't mean it is owned by Dina Degiorgio or her husband!! There are democrat signs on Ayhan's Shish Kebab's parking lot fence does that mean that piece of property is owned by the democrat leader in Port. Councilwoman Degiorgio has stated quite publicly numerous times that neither her husband or herself own the property in question. You are barking up the wrong tree on this one!!
NH taxed December 08, 2012 at 09:53 AM
Dina and Jon are both second rate lawyers turned politicians . Both pretend to care for the good of the people while in reality they only care about self promotion and money. I guess whoever said that politics is refuge for a second class mind was / is right.
Local Resident December 08, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Yes, we all wonder why the properties on Lower Main Street were added to the proposal just before the September meeting at Shreiber. We also wonder why some blocks on Upper Main Street were more recently removed from the proposal. We do not "buy" the explanation that this was done as a response to the communities fear of Main Street eventually having a canyon effect. I am beginning to wonder how Kaiman / DeGiorgio can both keep straight faces when providing obviously ridiculous answers to questions being asked by the people they were elected to represent.
Local Resident December 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Regarding ownership of the properties on Lower Main Street: The references to Ms. DeGiorgio's possible ownership (or that by her "immediate family") and / or the references to possible conflict-of-interests seemed to have Ms. DeGiorgio initially stumped and prompted Mr. Kaiman to state "that any question about property ownership by De Giorgio would be clarified before the vote on this proposal and that to his understanding she does not have a conflict of interest in this case." Hopefully this gets addressed at the Dec. 11 meeting...but we'll see.
Local Resident December 08, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Jonathan, come on, you have to admit that the brown paper in the windows is much better than looking into the floorless abyss that we have had to look into the past five years. It is interesting to note, that the block on the south side of Main Street (between South Maryland Ave and South Bayles Ave) is no longer in the rezoning overlay district. I guess we will just have to get used to having brown paper in the windows for the coming years.
Cindy Pfister December 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I so miss PW- and to hear people bicker like this- I livbed in PW over 50 yrs- I still tell people I am FROM PW- not where I live-
jonathan winant December 08, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Cindy: What your hearing is not bickering it's the difference of opinions residents are having over some very fundamental, but very important issues. Several issues could mean life or death for the financial part of port Washington. Somewhere along the way there was a building code change which now is about to change if the rezoning proposition goe through. This means that for a portion of upper and part of Lowwer Main Street buildings can once again (yes they were once allowed) to be both residential upstairs and commercial downstairs. This whole issue is under the pretense that it was to be solely a beautification project. People are mad as hell because the way they were outright lied to. The first meeting proposed one type of change then at the next meeting the proposal significantly changed and encompassed lower Main Street. Then at the next meeting residents were given even more changes to swallow. After living here for fifty years maybe your input of the matter is very important to Patch readers. You might have lived here through extensive changes in the area some good and some horrible. Why not tell the readers about them and how residents handled the changes and how the Town Of North Hempstead approached residents with proposals of change.
Mary December 08, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Port North Resident: All the Councilwoman needs to be is transparent. I believe that was your description of her. Joe Delonzo still has a dog in the fight.
sadeto December 09, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Port North Resident: "democrat" is a noun. To insist on using it as an adjective just makes you look as childish and moronic as the former president who popularized the practice. Sorry, spare those around you the embarrassment and grow up a bit.
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM
The recent renovation of Baltimore Design's front facade is a good example of what pride by the business owner can do for the overall look for Main Street. The building looks great and this is an example of "beautification without rezoning", it is entirely possible and completely effective. It did take 9 months to get a building permit for facade improvements, but that is another story. The new developments of New Cassel and Westbury, is this what we can expect if Main Street is rezoned? Both developments fulfill most of the aesthetic criteria established by the very general, and unenforceable Design Guidelines. The ToNH and RFMBPW are "selling" us Baltimore Design, but under their rezoning proposal, we can expect New Cassel or Westbury or even worse. No thanks.
jonathan winant December 10, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Local Resident: I totally agree with your views.. What many do not realize is that the public has has heard absolutely nothing from build owners (not store renters). Residents have no clue as to what if any intentions building owners have in regards to renovating or rebuilding or adding stories to their buildings. We also do not know what would happen to buildings which undergo renovations when store renters have to vacate. TOO many pieces of a very serious puzzle are being withheld. What happened to transparency?
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Thanks. I have actually come around to your way of thinking regarding the absolute lack of public input any of the property owners have had. The owners' willingness to hide in the shadows while the ToNH / RFMBPW push this proposal forward is definitely curious. Why has no owner stepped up and showed us what he would build? Show us something nice, something that relates to the "fantasy world renderings" ToNH / RFMBPW would lead us to believe Main Street would eventually look like, then there may actually be some trust between the community and ToNH / RFMBPW / Property Owners. Until then we will have to assume worst case scenarios like New Cassel and Westbury. It is concerning how the RFMBPW continues to so aggressively back the rezoning proposal. For a civic group that claims to have community support to so energetically disregard the opinion of the majority is quite puzzling. You may conclude they have something to hide. There are so many conflicts-of-interests, direct and indirect, almost too many to list, that to avoid addressing them is just problematic. Most curious is how there has been no mention of beautification from the ToNH / RFMBPW...beautification has been dropped from the discussion. This has become all about rezoning, nothing else. The lack of input by the property owners and the willingness of ToNH / RFMBPW to continue to push for a rezoning proposal that lacks community support definitely results in more questions than answers.
Port Citizen December 10, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Interesting comment regarding Baltimore Design. Facade improvements to BEAUTIFY Port Washington, without financial hand out. and even more interesting ... 9 months to permit the beautification. What's the real problem here? TOWN OF NORTH HEMPSTEAD and their ABSURD permiting process!!! It takes so long to get anything accomplished. I can attest to it - as it took about 6 months from start to finish to get a fence permit approved for our property in 2010. What a circus it was to do a simple fence on a residential property, replacing existing (albeit not permitted by previous property owner).
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Jonathan...I think we also need to be absolutely clear about what is actually being proposed with rezoning. The proposal is not at all about the simple interior renovation of existing buildings, or merely making improvements to the facades. This proposal is about taking down existing buildings, the consolidation of properties and constructing NEW buildings in its place. The new buildings may or may not adhere to the unenforceable, and not required, design guidelines being heralded as the savior of design aesthetics for Main Street. In order to achieve the parking requirements, to achieve all the required setbacks, and to comply to ADA accessibility laws, buildings will have to come down and properties will have to be consolidated. A single property on Main Street is not large enough to add an elevator and to comply to parking and setback requirements. There is just not enough square footage available. And the economies do not make sense. This is not even getting into that somehow, somewhere the Owner's have to provide garbage storage and removal in the back of the property. How are single, middle-of-the-block property owners who wish to redevelop supposed to achieve all of this? The eventual result will be large, 3-story buildings that occupy multiple lots if not entire blocks. This is not about renovation...it is all about 3-STORY, NEWLY CONSTRUCTED BUILDINGS that would replace the one and two story buildings currently lining most of Main Street.
jonathan winant December 10, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Local resident: I am well aware of what is being proposed (not to sound nasty). This is why I am so very angry at the way meetings and discussions on the topic have progressed. What I do notunderstand is how did buildings such as the ones just east of the train station get permits (stannards bldg four stories high) or the building which houses the Dolphin Book Shop on Lowwer Main St. get approval? I guess the zoning rules changed otherwise three and four story mixed use bldgs. would still be allowed to be built. Biggest question is why did the zoning rules change? Another concern is what will happen when consgtruction begins? Who will be displaced and how would it effect traffic and the functioning of other Main Street businesses? Yes the newly renovated store fronts of some (a small number) businesses is very welcomed but it is a small step. I truly believe that the rezoning plan if adopted will be the down fall of the Main Street area and possibly lower proerty values for neighboring homes. What needed to be done was entice the vacant stores do repairs so they might find a renter.
R Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Jonathan the location of Dolphin bookstore is in the village of Baxter estates where the TONH has no jurisdiction.
NH Taxed December 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM
please please Stop referring to our area as North Hempstead , the name has become synonymous with corruption, deception , ineptness , thanks to Jon Kaiman and his Board of the dumb and the spineless

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