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A Plan to Restore 'Alvan Petrus Park' in Port Washington

The town supervisor suggests way to restore park and preserve open space.

Monday night's rain did not deter locals from showing up at Littig House to hear new plans for a parcel of land next to Harbor Homes known as Alvan Petrus Park. Pretty soon into the evening, the room was filled with smiling people who would ultimately applaud what they heard.  

Standing next to Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman delivered a proposal that was welcomed by the audience ­– a mix of civic group members, philanthropists, environmentalists, Harbor Home residents and their friends and neighbors.

The plan already had the support of North Hempstead’s Town Board and the North Hempstead Housing Authority, whose director, Sean Rainey, sat close by. Kaiman added that the plan would meet legal and financial needs, as well as the needs of Harbor Home residents, many of whom put in long hours with the mission to restore the park so their children would have a safe place to play.

Explaining the plan, Kaiman said that the town already has an appraisal for the property that came in at $1.6 million.

In trying to arrive at a solution, Kaiman noted that “the housing authority can’t give up an asset and be out property dollars.”

So he proposes dividing the property into a recreational area and an open space portion, which includes trees and cliffs. The town would commit between $200,000-$300,000 to the Housing Authority to restore the park, which would likely feature barbeque pits, a basketball court and more. It would need proper ingress, egress, stairs, access and lighting. And it would require meeting standards put forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Harbor Home residents would be involved in the park’s planning.

The town would be responsible for liability, and the housing authority would be responsible for maintenance. The housing authority would also agree to preserve open space and not develop it for a minimum of 20 years. After 20 years, the tax credits held by First Sterling Bank would expire, and the bank would no longer have claims on the property. The open-space agreement could be extended for another 20 or even as many as 50 years, Kaiman said.

In exchange, the town would give the housing authority a property in New Cassel, where it can build the kind of senior housing it had originally aimed to build on the property near Harbor Homes.

The park would be open to all town residents, but Harbor Home residents would be able to reserve the property for private events.

Everyone in the room seemed to give the proposal high marks.

“I feel the proposal is fair,” one resident said. “But residents should have a meeting and discuss it before we have a definite answer.”

De Giorgio agreed. “And going forward with the layout we want you to have direct input and include anyone in the process” who wants to get involved, she said.

“I thank you and compliment you and Dina,” Hank Ratner told Kaiman. “You listened to the community.”

“This may be your legacy,” Ratner added.

Noting that the European Union had just received the Nobel Peace Prize, Amy Hagedorn said, “You folks might be eligible for next year.”

Mike Blumenfeld offered resources from the Port Washington Parks Conservancy, which recently spearheaded the redevelopment of Stannards Brook Park. “We would make available to Harbor Homes our experts, grant writers, landscape architects without charge,” he said.

Safety, specifically near the cliffs, needs to be discussed. Both Kaiman and De Giorgio noted that there would be opportunity for groups and individuals to sponsor portions of the project – donating a fountain, or a garden, playgound equipment and more.

Next steps include the town board and housing authority board signing contracts, issuing a request for proposals for engineering plans, and dedicating money into the town’s 2013 capital spending.

"I'm very happy," De Giorgio said. "I'm happy for the community and the 161 children who live here." She thanked the member of the Hands Of Change Civic Association for their efforts. 

And while area residents do aim to meet before giving their formal ok, they seemed pleased.

As one local new parent said, “It gives my children a future.”

Ed Shendell October 16, 2012 at 09:53 PM
This sounds like a creative solution to a complicated problem. Everyone involved should be congratulated when this is signed, sealed and delivered.
Lee Kalinsky October 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Thanks need to go out to Jon Kaiman and Dina De Giorgio for listening to the people of North Hempstead. This was not the place to build senior housing but their leadership with working out this land swap and putting money into fixing up the Petrus Park for everyone in North Hempstead to enjoy is a great success story. For everyone who said this was a loosing battle, that you can't change the minds of the TONH Board, you can't change the minds of Matt Cuomo and the Housing Authority, this should rebuild faith in government that it does listen to its people. To the civic groups and people who didn't care about loosing this 60 year old parkland, you know who you are. Those who only recently came to the table in support, too little too late. People who fought this battle will remember who you are and they will make sure that the almost two hundred children in the surrounding area who will now be able to use an amazing park will also know the names of the people and groups who didn't support them. Big thanks to the Hands of Change Civic Group led by Wandell Thomas. With countless hours, setting up pickets, sending many emails, printing flyers and signs and went up against some powerful people, Well Done!! Thanks also to Adina and the Patch for keeping this forum open to everyone speaking on all sides of the story. Truly an open forum and well needed. To everyone who stepped forward to sign the petitions, Thank you!
Adina Genn (Editor) October 16, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Thank you Lee, and thank you for pushing the dialog forward.
hank ratner October 16, 2012 at 11:19 PM
A very proud moment for everyone who took the time to "get involved" Kudos to Jon Kaiman and Dina De Gorgio for thinking "outside the box" and coming up with a brilliant solution to the problem. I'm ready to go one on one when the basketball courts are constructed!
R Miller October 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Good to see the government using common sense. Nice to break up the usual craziness. One for the community!!!
Robert J. Pape, Jr. October 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM
A true defining moment for the Town of North Hempstead and the entire community of Port Washington. Working together a great deal can be accomplished to responsibly and respectfully address the needs of the community. Well done. Thank you.
Donna Rice October 17, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Congratulations to Wendell Thomas and the Hands of Change!! This was because of all of you. You pulled together the people of Port Washington and made this possible. You were the driving force behind this park. Others helped but it was the Hands of Change that made this happen.
Wandell Thomas October 19, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I am pleased that Jon Kaiman along with The TONH BOARD, and The NHHA decided to do the right thing. I want to thank THE HANDS OF CHANGE CIVIC ASSOCIATION FOR THEIR TIREDLESS HARDWORK AND EFFORT. I COULDN'T ASK FOR A BETTER TEAM, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU ARE AMAZING!! Thank you to all of the Port Washington residents that continued to stand by us and with us to make sure that The ALVAN O. PETRUS PARK be restored. I must point out that our Congresswoman, Dina De Giorgio never wavered. She gave me her word that she would do everything in her power to have The Park restored and she did just that, THANK YOU CONGRESSWOMAN DE GIORGIO!! To ALL of my children in the community, job well done. The children were just as committed and dedicated as the adults. The children attended EVERY meeting that was held at The TONH Town Hall, which we know were held on school nights. I am so proud of them and excited that they have EXPERIENCED that hard work and dedication DOES PAY OFF!! Adina Genn and The Port Patch Staff did an amazing job keeping our story in the forefront it truly made a difference, THANK YOU!! Wandell Thomas - President Hands Of Change Civic Association
Wandell Thomas October 19, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Donna, I thank you and Tom for all of your support!!
Wandell Thomas October 19, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Adina, Thank you and your staff for keeping our cause at the forefront. It truly is appreciated, great job!!
Wandell Thomas October 19, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Lee, you and the others did an amazing job. I really appreciate what each and every one of you have done to stand with us and behind us. I'm excited and can't wait for the day that awful fence comes down!!
Wandell Thomas October 19, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Ed you sound a bit skeptical. The Alvan O. Petrus Park WILL be restored!!
Adina Genn (Editor) October 19, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Thank you Wandell. We'll continue to cover!
Wandell Thomas October 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thank you, we really do appreciate everything.
Diane M. Pape October 24, 2012 at 03:18 PM
This project moves forward because the TNH had no little choice in the matter. The last thing that Jon Kaimen had wanted was a park. It was Jon Kaimen who wanted a senior housing project here. Jon Kaimen had to be reminded that this parcel had been used as a park he had planed to build senior apartments her Jon Kaimen is no hero. Now these politicans use this as a self-serving public relations stunt. With Ed Shendell I remain cautious here when the park is open ready for use then we can begin the thank you.

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