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Opinion

In response to the letters sent by Steve Kaplan with regard to the acquisition of the former Fearon Marine property by the Village of Port North, I feel it is important to spell out a little more clearly what I and the rest of the board of trustees of Port North have been working on for quite some time now.

The following is the major part of a letter that I wrote to the Port Washington North Civic Association in response to the negative comments that were being made with regard to the board's consideration of the rezoning of the Lewis Oil property and the village's acquisition of the waterfront properties.

"I have immersed myself in this [Lewis Oil] situation because I sincerely believe that it is an opportunity to bring about the most significant positive change in the profile of this community to happen in the 25 years that I live here. I find it hard to understand why there should be opposition to a plan that will make those ugly tanks go away and give the village the opportunity to prevent any new structures or businesses from being built along that portion of the waterfront and dedicate it to the use and enjoyment of the residents of the village and the Port community at large.

I feel that we are close to putting the pieces in place to 1. Acquiring the waterfront property along with a huge package of improvements that will give us a tremendous running start to move ahead from there. 2. To then move into the next phase of the project which will need to establish an advisory committee to explore all of the possibilities available to us for the development of a beautiful public facility.

When we add up the value of the property itself, the money that will be given for the rebuilding of the oil dock, the very substantial cost of cleaning up the property, remediation of any contamination problems, and rehabilitating the shoreline by removing all the debris, old pilings, old bulkheading, and reshaping, replanting and stabilizing the shoreline to return it to its most natural state - plus the cost of acquiring the Belanich [Fearon Marine] property and making needed improvements - this all adds up to a very substantial dollar figure that will be used as a match for state and federal grants that are out there and available for this type of project. I have already begun to speak to people from the town and others about the availability of grants of this sort and everyone agrees that this would be a project that would be looked at with great favor by any and all concerned agencies.

I think that you should be able to understand my adverse reaction to opinions that would seek to impede the progress of this proposed project. I would hope that if and when this project moves forward, that we can enlist the aid and participation of the residents of Port North, the Civic Association, Residents for a More Beautiful PW and the Port Washington community at large to work together toward the goal of creating a beautiful place for all to enjoy.

I look forward to talking to you or anyone else concerned about this matter."

While I agree in theory with Mr. Kaplan's letter in last week's edition of the Port News, it would be prudent to have a detailed plan for the purchase, development and maintenance of this property as well as the rest of the waterfront property that Lewis Oil plans to donate to the village, sometimes it is necessary to seize the opportunity while we can.

On more than one occasion at public hearings and village meetings, I have tried to explain my [and the rest of the board's] thoughts as to how we could do this without imposing any substantial financial burden on any of the residents of the village.

Now that we have taken some very positive steps toward realizing that goal we can soon begin to put the pieces together by using village funds and property specifically earmarked for parks as well as obtaining available funding for planning projects of this type. We then will seek out all available assistance to reclaim and revitalize this beautiful area of waterfront for all to enjoy.

Ross Altman

Trustee - Village of PW North


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