"This is the way government is supposed to work," said State Senator Michael Balboni, as he stood with other government officials, educators and civic leaders at Bar Beach, the North Hempstead Town Park on Hempstead Harbor. He and Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli were announcing that state funds have been appropriated to build new athletic fields at Hempstead Harbor County Park, adjacent to Bar Beach. Assemblyman DiNapoli also announced a proposed agreement between the town and Nassau County regarding the management, operation, maintenance and oversight of Hempstead Harbor County Park by the Town of North Hempstead. The properties are currently separated by fencing and independently managed and staffed. Bar Beach is heavily trafficked while Hempstead Harbor Park is underutilized, partly due to the county's financial problems. These have led to poor maintenance and staffing. As a result of the new arrangement, the county will save approximately $156,000 in annual operational and maintenance expenses.
Fence that currently separates Bar Beach and Hempstead Harbor County Park.
The proposal to build new ball fields on the underutilized county property and consolidate the management of these adjacent properties by the Town of North Hempstead is the result of a series of meetings involving state, county, town and school officials that were convened by Assemblyman DiNapoli at the recommendation of the Manhasset School District and supported by the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington.
DiNapoli said that the official title of "Town Nudge" has passed from residents Myron Blumenfeld to Tom Mohrman, director of facilities and operations for the Manhasset Public Schools. Legislator Craig Johnson agreed. "As soon as I was elected," he said," Tom Mohrman called me and told me there was a "space crunch" in North Hempstead for the sports teams. Mohrman documented this by showing that there are 1,100 boys and girls in the Manhasset School District who play baseball and softball, 850 who play soccer and 900 who play lacrosse. "As soon as the school teams leave, the community groups come on," Mohrman said. That makes maintenance difficult.
The combination of Senator Balboni and Assemblyman DiNapoli has secured $250,000 in New York state funds for the construction of the fields. The next step is for the proposal to go to the desk of County Executive Thomas Gulotta, who has said that he supports the proposal. It will then go before the county legislature. Legislator Johnson said that he will shepherd it through the legislative process.
North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger, whom DiNapoli called "a leader who is not afraid to do things a little differently," concluded by saying, "We talk about public/private partnerships. This demonstrates public/public partnership. We are learning that we need to work together."