The fight continues to restore and convert the parcel known as , located in the , public parkland. Members of the Hands of Change Civic Association are the frontrunners in trying to make this happen.
The civic group held a meeting Tuesday at the , stressing the importantance of opening and revamping the park so that children can play somewhere other than the street. Two years ago a six-foot fence was erected, surrounding the property. The civic association wants the fence taken down.
Port Washington Resident Donald Peshkin who lives near Harbor Homes started a recent petition that he will circulate to residents throughout North Hempstead. The petition states that the park has been around since 1951 and that one and a half acres of land was reserved as open space where children can play. It also states that this land was used as a park for 60 years, but fell into disrepair in the last 10 years.
“No one is listening – neither the nor the Housing Authority,” Peshkin said. “The children are playing in the street, and it’s dangerous. The basketball court, along with the entire park needs to be restored. Approximately 200 children do not have a place to play.”
Wandell Thomas, Hands of Change president, explained that she is not against the building of senior facilities, which was proposed for , but she is against the location of a senior home that would take away parkland.
“The North Hempstead Housing Authority did recant to look for another location to build on, however, we were promised last year by the Town of North Hempstead that there would be a financial, environmental and an engineering assessment done concerning Alvan Petrus Park and nothing was done as of yet,” Thomas said.
She added, “We want to know why and don’t the 200 children that live in Harbor Homes matter? The park is in total disarray and the civic association has cleaned up the park several times in the past, and we are willing to continue to help.”
Longtime Port Washington resident Hank Ratner said he has been fighting for park restoration for more than three years to no avail.
“I recently sent a letter to Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman saying erect some basketball hoops, a couple of benches and a water fountain,” he said.
Ratner read back an email response he said he received from Kaiman, which was shared with Patch, that said, “To make the park public the Housing Authority would have to sell the property to the town at market rate, which would cost substantial dollars.” In addition, “Once you start adding running water, electricity, ADA compliance and bathrooms we are probably talking seven figures.”
But, Ratner said he feels the issue is being quashed.
“There is no way it would cost as much as seven figures, this is impossible," he said. “The residents of Harbor Homes need to speak out more, including the civic association so we make our voices known.”
A request for comment from the Town of North Hempstead was not returned by press time.
Joel and Gail Katz, residents who live on Roger Drive in Port Washington said, “It’s sad to think about all the amenities that Sands Point people have, but right across the way Harbor Homes children go without.”
Thomas added that the fight to bring back Alvan Petrus Park would continue and she hopes there will be a breakthrough with the park.
“There are signs all over Harbor Homes saying no skateboarding, no bicycling, no playing on the grass," she said. "Where should the children play?”