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'Tis the Season to Love our Town - Part 2

Of course they call it “Smart Growth,“ said my father to me as I spoke to him about the Main Street proposal. Did you expect them to call it “Dumb Growth?”

As a former city planner, I wince every time I hear the term Smart Growth used by the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington to justify their proposal for redeveloping parts of Upper and Lower Main Street.

Smart Growth is a planning concept developed in the early 1990’s in the state of Maryland (my childhood home) under the leadership of the Governor. In essence it was a deal between the State and the localities in Maryland’s quickly developing counties, whereby the State agreed to provide new roads and infrastructure, if the localities in turn would concentrate their new developments in those designated areas.

I haven’t seen any plans for new or improved roads or infrastructure in Port Washington. Have you? And the lack of transportation infrastructure is the core of my concern about the development proposal (yes, there is a LIRR train station, but it only connects us in one direction and is not really useful for running errands or picking up the kids from soccer).

I question the wisdom of densifying the areas around the most congested parts of the peninsula without adequate roads in and out.  Our intersections are failing with the current levels of traffic. If the Town of North Hempstead were serious about Smart Growth, it would be looking at underutilized areas closer to Northern Boulevard or I-495 to redevelop. Parts of Manhasset come to mind. There is even have a train station nearby.  But of course we can’t do that!  So let’s stop calling the proposal to redevelop Main Street in Port Washington, Smart Growth, and call it what it is – a bad idea.

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jonathan winant December 09, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Increasing the density of the area surronding Main Street would be the end of all. Port Washington wants to keep businesses alive despite planning to create havoc in the area. Look around and you will see three and four story mixed use buildings along Main Street. When did the get the permits and when did the building codes change (becausde ToNH wants to revert back to that code)? I feel as if I am being played for a fool! During Proposal meetings there was not one person from any agency or organization which would feel the effects of a rezoning proposition and the increase in vehicular traffic, pedestrian traffic, more sewage and garbage. Where were reps from the water ditrict, Police, Fire, Town and private sanitation, Code violation bureau,Parking violations and othe agencies. Reps should have been there to answer questions. I guess it was another atempt to pull the wool over our eyes. This is soun ding like the way LIPA functioned after Sandy and the Nor'easter! Wait until the streets are locked up with new construction or parking dwindles. Dont tell me there would be space for new parking (mandated) when residential units are added to commercial buildings. I also doubt many of those who would rent apartments in new construction would be L.I.R.R. commuters. Cars are esential on Long Island even if you use the rail road.
Local Resident December 09, 2012 at 12:20 PM
We haven't seen the infrastructure or traffic studies because they, admittedly, haven't figured it out in any way that makes any sense...or more likely, they have not done the appropriate studies. Its full steam ahead..rezone and rebuild to 3-floors, add residential, add density, add traffic, add parking problems, add to our already overburdened schools (and our already high, increasing school taxes), add, add, add. And in return we as a community may get new brick sidewalks, landscaping, street lighting, and redone building facades, etc. Nice.
Love My Town December 09, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Dear Residents For Miss-representing a Beautiful Port Washington, (aka RFMBPW ) 1. You don't represent anyone in Town but your own group. Do not ever miss- represent your group as speaking for all the people of Port to others again. 2. You continue to to avoid dialogue with anyone who has another opinion. 3. You AND Jon Kaiman stated on the record that this change in zoning with a full build out would in fact be less dense than a full build out under current zoning. You fail to state that under the current parking requirements for new structures there would be very little construction possible because the parking requirements can't be met, not to mention no one wants to build it! Your parking 'shell game' to allow mixed use, will not solve the parking issues. It can only make it worse. 4. Concerning the support of the town's people just stop someone walking on Main Street and ask if they have heard of the Re-zoning plans. You will find that they have not. In the unlikely event they have, just ask some simple questions concerning the proposals and you will find that they have few facts right, and when informed they are against the proposed changes. That is unless you are from RFMBPW.
Love My Town December 09, 2012 at 05:54 PM
While I'm talking about how Residents For Miss-representing a Beautiful Port Washington portray our Town, here's one more. While walking on Main Street, check out how in the middle of the day the shadows of our existing LOW RISE buildings, cross over the road and creep up the face of the North side store fronts. Now just picture a new structure more than twice as tall. If you want a preview of your new reality stand in front of the 4 story buildings next to the train station They are about the same height as in the rezoned 3 story proposal. 45'. They shadow the buildings already. Remember snow and ice? They don't melt in the shadows of a low winter sun. What about the residences that exist behind the North side of Main Street, should they be in the shadow of these newly constructed buildings FOREVER? Renew not replace.
Local Resident December 09, 2012 at 06:04 PM
At the last Town Hearing, the issue of sunlight on Main Street was addressed by an Architect (who is also a member of RFMBPW) who supports the rezoning. His "educated" thesis was effectively as follows: The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and since Main Street runs east / west there will be no blockage of sunlight once Main Street is developed up to 3 stories. With this kind of analysis, are we really supposed to take the rezoning proposal and the studies it is based on seriously? I may become a member of RFMBPW just to listen first-hand to some of the garbage they try to pass onto the public...the meetings have to be hysterically amusing.
Local Resident December 09, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Yes, it is this kind of "fuzzy logic" employed by the ToNH and RFMBPW that has plagued this entire process. A similar example of this type of "fuzzy logic" would be: Mr. Kaiman's assertion that the rezoning of Main Street would NOT lead to higher building density, additional traffic or more parking problems because Main Street is already zoned for 3-story commercial. Really?
jonathan winant December 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM
If we have seen numerous meetings concerning the rezoning and the basic facts are not even looked into them there is more then just something wrong with the proposal and those propossing it! Plan and simple hiow will the proposal effect essential services? Will there have to be a rebuilding of sewers? What effect will this have on the allready crowded L.I.R.R. system? Fire dept. were they involved at any point? Garbage collection (private and Municiple)? WHERE ARE THE MUCH AWAITED ANSWERS FROM THOSE DEPARTMENTS NOT FROM JOhN (LIES TO US) Kaiman?
R Miller December 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM
I think we are missing the point here. Let's fix the building department in which it promotes construction of commercial and residential properties, not kill it by having to wait 6 plus months just for a permit. That is the real problem I see in the growth of this TONH area. Rezoning to me is a second day issue.
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Rezoning should be a first day issue for all of us because it is for the ToNH and RFMBPW...they have been shoving it down our throats for a year, and their intention is to continue to shove it down our throats. Agreed, the building department is a major issue. Business Owners should not have to wait 6-9 months to do simple facade improvements...of course, few building owners are going to want to go through that process. But to be clear, we are not missing the point here....the ToNH and RFMBPW missed and continues to miss the point: Beautification of Main Street can occur without rezoning. Baltimore Design just improved his front facade, he waited months for a permit, but he did a great job and the building looks great. The day spa on the opposite corner just opened after significant renovations, it also looks great and didn't need to be rezoned. Dr. Weill's office looks great and has for years. The beautification and vibrancy of Main Street is an issue that does NOT require rezoning. However, the beautification of Main Street DOES require the property owners / business owners to show a some pride in their property and a little respect for the surrounding community.

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