I have had the honor of serving as chairperson of the Great Neck Park District since July 1, 2000, and will continue until Dec. 31, 2001. Since our senior commissioner, Andrew Imperatore, was unable to serve as chairman for the year 2000 due to illness, Commissioner William Dobkin and I each served as chairperson for six months. This State of the Parks report reflects the feelings of each of the commissioners of the board.
Although this has been an extremely challenging year, I am happy to say that our board has accomplished all of its goals. Commissioner Dobkin, Superintendent of Parks Richard Arenella, along with assistance from counsel Christopher Prior and other special counsels, worked diligently. Together we accomplished many objectives. Now we welcome our new commissioner, Robert Lincoln, Jr., to help us continue to bring innovation and growth to our parks.
The state of the parks is indeed healthy. In spite of construction delays, we now have a newly designed playground and basketball courts at Memorial Field, a redesigned and rebuilt Wyngate Park-and new playgrounds at Grace Avenue, Thomaston and Cuttermill Parks. Each playground is distinctly different from the other with modern designs and updated safe equipment. The beautification of Steppingstone Park was completed last summer in time for residents to enjoy the new entranceway, brick paths, a retaining wall and new flower beds. This spring we will complete the last infrastructure project planned some time ago-the redesign of the passageway at the Parkwood complex.
The park budget was approved in October. We are happy to report that we were able to hold the line on a tax increase and the rate remains at $3.03 per $100 of assessed valuation. This budget also reflects ongoing improvements for the year 2001. The new budget calls for a complete redesign of the playgrounds at both Uplands and Manor Parks. We will provide upgrades of the basketball courts at Thomaston Park, which will be converted to a full court, and to the basketball court at Cutter Mill Park. Improvements to park lighting will be made at Thomaston Park and Grace Avenue Park. This budget also includes an allocation to reconstruct the Steppingstone Park wading pool. The budget reflects the board's desire to modernize and maintain the highest standards for our residents.
The year 2000 also brought a new contract with our employees. I am happy to report that after lengthy negotiations, the contract was settled amicably to everyone's satisfaction.
The most challenging goal this year was our quest to acquire a parcel of waterfront property that was formerly part of the George M. Cohan estate in Kings Point. Though time consuming and fraught with emotion, this board held firmly to the belief that it is the responsibility and mission of Park Boards to acquire property for park use, and safeguard and preserve open space. I am proud to report that we have received permission to proceed with the acquisition process from the Town of North Hempstead and, more recently, the Village of Kings Point. The town, in a separate resolution, bonded the cost of acquiring this property. Hopefully, this will soon be accomplished and we can have the profound pleasure of knowing that generations to come will enjoy an expanded Steppingstone Park. Our thanks go to the many community leaders and residents who tirelessly supported us during this process.
No park district can run smoothly without its staff. They have been there with us through construction problems, meetings, hearings, bad weather and whatever arose to challenge our progress. We thank Superintendent Arenella for his fierce and loyal dedication to the district. Our thanks to the office staffs, to our entire management crew, to the north and south supervisors, to park maintenance supervisors and to our park attendants. They have all helped make millennium 2000 a rewarding and memorable year.