Responding to the voice of the people, the Great Neck Park District Board of Commissioners voted on Jan. 20 to maintain the total number of outdoor concerts at Steppingstone Waterside Theatre for the 1999 summer entertainment season, while restricting attendance to park district residents only.
Park District Chairperson William Dobkin
Chairperson William S. Dobkin and Commissioner Ruth J. Tamarin both voted affirmatively, with Commissioner Andrew Imperatore absent due to recent surgery, to present the usual "22 or 23 concerts" this coming season, a wish fervently expressed by over a dozen residents at the Jan. 6 park district open meeting.
On the matter of restricting attendance, in late 1998 then-Chairperson Imperatore stated at a commissioners' meeting that restricting attendance at some of the concerts had already been instituted a few years ago, in response to Village of Kings Point requests for relief from concert-caused parking problems and noise.
In a statement to the Record, Mr. Dobkin said, "Whereas other communities open up their concerts to nonresidents, such as Central Park or Nassau County's Eisenhower Park, the situation in Great Neck is very different. Those parks are very large and there is a great buffer area between the concert area and residential homes. In Kings Point, where our park for concerts is located, Steppingstone Park is a small park surrounded by residences, and I can't think of a single benefit that accrues to them or to the taxpayers in the park district to welcome outsiders to our concerts.
"For example, if we were a resort community or had an amusement center or our park was located in a business district, there would be a benefit in allowing outsiders."
He added, "We will formulate sometime in the future a policy for bringing in guests," assuring that the policy would be announced before the opening of the 1999 Steppingstone summer concert series.
Commenting on the decision to sustain the previous total of nearly two dozen offerings per season, Mr. Dobkin noted, "In having these public meetings, we discovered that all those who came forward to express themselves pleaded for us to continue the same number of concerts that benefit so many in the park district. And we continue getting letters supporting the same number of concerts."
He also stated that the Jan. 20 meeting agenda featured the first of an ongoing series of informational topics, this time on environmentally sound methods of lawn care. Two guest speakers from Organica, Inc., presented a videotape on the benefits of using non-toxic additives in lawn maintenance.
According to the chairman, at one of its regular meetings in February, the park board will present a demonstration of automatic emergency defibrillators as its next informational topic. In an exclusive interview with the Record, Mr. Dobkin stated, "We are in a planning stage to have these devices located at certain facilities in the park district" in the future.