Port Washington residents asked for more information about plans to build a on a 1.5 acre site adjacent to . Beginning Tuesday they will have several opportunities to question the North Hempstead Housing Authority.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, representatives from the Housing Authority will host question-and-answer sessions at the Port Washington Public Library between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. It will host additional sessions on Saturday, Feb. 12, at the library between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., and on Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Harbor Homes between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
These sessions come just days before a hearing on the proposed development, rescheduled for Feb. 15 atat 7:30 p.m.
Many are eager to express their views on the matter, as was evidenced at a packed North Hempstead Board meeting on Jan. 25. Residents and Housing Authority representatives came out to voice their opinions at a hearing on the proposed development. Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, however, postponed the hearing until Feb. 15.
According to Kaiman and Councilman Fred Pollack, more time was needed so residents can learn about the project, and so that applicant could respond to questions.
“We are also waiting for approval from Nassau County Planning Commission and we do not have their vote yet,” Kaiman said. “There will be a full opportunity for everyone to speak at the hearing on the 15.”
At the Jan. 25 meeting, the Housing Authority held a break-out session in the Town Hall library. There, Housing Authority Chair Matthew Cuomo, along with Housing Authority Executive Director Sean Rainey, engineers, legal counsel and an architect discussed the proposed plans. Cuomo said he came ready to speak about the project. Many residents were concerned about open space that should be used as a park where children could play.
“The Housing Authority owned the land in which we wanted to build this senior facility since 1950, and we also owned part of the land, which some are calling Alvin Petrus Park, but it was never functioning as a park,” Cuomo said. “The Housing Authority is here to build affordable housing, not to build parks. It’s like asking McDonalds to sell clothing – it is not our mission.”
Delores Stover from Manhasset, and a former Port Washington resident, said she was there more than 10 years ago when the land was dedicated as Alvin Petrus Park from Barbara Johnson and where a plaque was issued in accordance with the dedication.
“I am for increased senior housing and would even love to live in this new facility, but don’t ever say this open space was never a park,” Stover said. “Politicians came from all over to be a part of this dedication.”
Cuomo explained that no one had the authority to dedicate this land as a park and it was done illegally. Pollack also confirmed it was never a true park and that now it is a piece of land that is fenced off and in disarray.
Other residents asked to see the site plan and about parking spaces, traffic issues and handicap accessibility. Dave Gallo, vice president of Lake Success-based Whitney Capital, a developer of the proposed facility, and Scott Grupp, an architect from Notaro Grupp Associates in Glen Head, attended the meeting to speak about these issues.
As the site plan was viewed by the residents, Gallo said, “This is a 48-unit, three story, tax credit senior facility for those who are 55 years of age and older with an elevator in each unit, and it is wheelchair-and-fully-handicap accessible. The building will also have a panic button in each unit in case there is an emergency, and the doorman or the manager of the building can be contacted.”
The facility will have solar panels and will be a green building with a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, according to Grupp. “There will be 52 parking spaces –34 for the residents underneath the building and 14 for staff parking.”
Cuomo added that construction would be begin by spring 2011, if approved and take 12 to 18 months for completion. He said that a market study has been conducted in Port Washington, showing that 800 seniors are in the community and that senior housing is needed.
“In Port Washington there are not many viable options for seniors and they need affordable housing,” Cuomo said.
Port Washington resident Eric Zausner wonders about affordable housing for young adults in the area.
“Many people that I know have recently moved to Texas, Florida and South Carolina because they cannot afford the rentals in Port Washington,” Zausner said. “We have five senior developments in the area already, and the 18 to 34 year olds need help with affordable rentals. I want to buy a house one day in the community I grew up in.”