In last year's November election, North Hempstead voters overwhelmingly approved a $15 million environmental bond by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The bond is intended to provide funding for open space acquisitions, for restoration and protection of environmentally sensitive areas, and for improvement and environmental opportunities by taking advantage of state and federal matching funds which are available for environmental and open space protection. Town of North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger, who initiated the idea for the environmental referendum, has commented that the fund is the first of its kind for residents of North Hempstead and the first approved bond of this magnitude in the county.
Recently, the advisory review committee formed to study and analyze the various project nominations made a presentation of its first round recommendations to the town board. At a future date, it's expected that the board will appropriate funding from the ELF for the committee's recommendations.
The advisory committee, chaired by TONH Planning Commissioner Mike Levine and TONH Commissioner of Solid Waste Management Authority Matthew Miner include: Elizabeth Conlon, Josh Klainberg, Rosemary Konatich, Jim McHugh, Sarah Meyland, Eric Morgan, Norman Nemec, Jennifer Rimmer, Brian Starer, Richard Stehl, Diane Van Nooten, Nancy Zolezzi, Laury Dowd, Deena Lesser and Jerry Olsen.
Commending the committee for their efforts to date, the supervisor said, "I'm pleased at the way they've gone about doing their job. They've done it objectively, considering what would serve the long-term and best interests of the community first."
The committee provided an update of their efforts, and summary their discussions to date.
Beginning in January, the Committee met several times to develop by-laws, project nomination forms, evaluation criteria, and to review project nominations. The Committee envisions two rounds of funding annually. The first round was publicly announced the week of March 9. Nomination forms were also displayed in Town Hall, the Town Clerk's office, Town parks, and in public libraries.
Nominations for the first round were due April 2 at which time 50 applications were received. Four of those did not meet the criteria set forth in the Town Law establishing the Legacy Fund. Other sources of funding or technical assistance have been identified to help advance those projects.
Project nominations were reviewed by one of three subcommittees established by the Committee. The subcommittees corresponded to the three categories in the Legacy Fund: Open Space Acquisition ($8,000,000), Environmental Restoration of Sensitive Areas ($4,000,000) and Coastal Areas and Waterways Enhancement ($3,000,000). Project evaluation criteria, field investigations, review of outside funding sources, and land use and environmental factors were taken into consideration by the subcommittees in preparing a list of priority projects.
On June 14 the full Committee met to review and discuss the subcommittee recommendations. At that meeting the Committee adopted recommendations for funding to be sent to the Town Board. A second round of funding requests will be solicited in early August. Projects not recommended for round one will be held for two successive rounds.
It is recommended that funds in the amount of $4,000,000 be reserved for 10 of the 19 submitted projects. For six of the projects, the Committee felt that Legacy Funds could be used most effectively by acquiring a portion of the property or limited size easements for trails or specific projects as opposed to purchasing the entire property:
Andrews Road and Jericho Turnpike, Mineola
Stonytown Road, Plandome/Plandome Manor
Lockheed Martin/i. Park, New Hyde Park (portion for athletic fields)
Former Village Bath Club, South Strathmore
Whitney Property, North Hills and Manhasset (trailway easement)
Waldbaum's, Great Neck (trailway easement)
Former Town Garage, Thomaston (trailway easement)
Hempstead Harbor Shoreline Trail, Port Washington
Shore Realty, Glenwood Landing (waterfront easement)
Harbor Fuel/HinFin, Glenwood Landing (waterfront easement)
1. Andrews Road and Jericho Turnpike, Mineola - One of the last remaining open parcels of land in Mineola, this one-acre parcel is located in a densely populated portion of the Town. Its acquisition would provide relief in an urbanized area and would preserve as parkland a property that was formerly a used car lot. It may be appropriate for development as a sitting park or small playground. Discussions should be held with Village officials and nearby residents on potential uses as well as opportunities for shared maintenance.
2. Stonytown Road, Plandome/Plandome Manor - A unique property in terms of its size, location and physical characteristics, this 15-acre undeveloped parcel is located at the southwest intersection of Manhasset Woods and Stonytown Roads. It is heavily wooded with streams and pockets of wetlands. It is accessible by train and is bordered by a sidewalk. Uses that respect its natural setting and physical features should have priority.
3. Lockheed Martin/i.Park, New Hyde Park - The redevelopment of this site presents an excellent opportunity for a public-private partnership. While the reuse of this property is important to the commercial tax base of both the Town and Village of Lake Success, the site is located in an area in need of additional open space and land for recreational activities. The southeast portion of the site would be an ideal candidate for four athletic fields. As part of any site plan or related approval process it is hoped that land can be reserved for such a use. If a sufficient amount of land cannot be obtained through the zoning process, then acquisition out of the Legacy Fund should be entertained.
4. Former Village Bath Club, South Strathmore - An approximately one-acre site south of Northern Boulevard behind a shopping center, the property has been vacant for some time. A 20-foot retaining wall has been constructed along the west boundary. It is one of the few vacant lands in this area of Manhasset and could be used by residents as well as employees of nearby retail facilities. Potential uses of the property, be it for active or passive use, need to be fully explored as well as opportunities for partnerships with the local community and business establishments on maintenance and operation.
5. Whitney Property, Manhasset - The preservation of this approximate-l ,500-acre estate, the largest undeveloped property in Nassau County, has long been on the acquisition and preservation lists of many different levels of government including the town, county and state. Given its size and the high property values in the area, several funding sources would be needed to acquire the land. At this point the property is not for sale but should an opportunity arise to participate in its preservation, Legacy Funds should be made available for that purpose. In the meantime, it is highly recommended that an easement be pursued as part of the proposed townwide trailway system. The exact location would be reviewed as part of the anticipated feasibility and design/engineering report.
6. Waldbaum's, Great Neck; Former Highway Yard, Thomaston; Shore Realty, Glenwood Landing; Harbor Fuel/HinFin, Glenwood Landing; and Hempstead Harbor Shoreline Trail, Port Washington - The establishment of a townwide trailway system is more fully described in the "Environmental Restoration and Protection of Sensitive Areas" section of this report. The acquisition of easements for a pathway would be appropriate for the waterfront portions of the sites. All of these sites have or are expected to be the subject of development proposals. Opportunities exist, therefore, to work with Village officials and property owners to reserve land for the trailway which, in some cases, might be obtainable at no or below market cost. The exact location and size of the trailway on these properties will be the subject of a feasibility study that the Committee is recommending. In the case of the Harbor Fuel/HinFin site, Town-owned property is under consideration for sale as part of a larger private development proposal. Land should be reserved for parcels south of the existing Hempstead Harbor Shoreline Trail. It is recommended that acquisition of these lots proceed as soon as possible.
Of the 11 first round nominations, funds in the amount of $850,000 are recommended for the following three projects:
Townwide Trail System including Vanderbilt Motor Parkway
Searingtown Pond Park
Ridder Pond Park
1. Townwide Trailway System - The development of a town-wide pathway system is highly recommended by the Committee. Depending on its location, use, and design, the trailway could be used for recreational purposes (walking, biking), nature study as well as an alternative mode of transportation for residents to get to and from train stations, bus stops, jobs, and shops. A number of ideas were presented about trailway locations. It is recommended that Legacy Funds be made available immediately to prepare a feasibility study and engineering/design report which examines locations, types of construction materials, and development costs including land acquisition and easements. An operational plan should also be developed which identifies maintenance and security/policing requirements. The feasibility study should seek the input of residents particularly in neighborhoods where a trail might go. While work has begun on sections of a shoreline trail along parts of Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor, it is imperative that the trailway system include areas in the southern portion of the Town such as the abandoned right-of-way of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, and if possible, extend to Westbury Gardens or Eisenhower Park. The Committee is recommending that $550,000 be made available for the preparation of studies and engineering/design reports as well as the first phase of construction. Additional Legacy Funds will be requested once studies are complete. The Town should be aggressive in applying for federal and state funds to advance this project. TEA-21, Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds, and State Park and Bond Act funds are possible sources of financial matches.
2 & 3. Both Searingtown Pond Park in Searingtown and Ridder Pond Park in Herricks/New Hyde Park require removal of sediment from the ponds as well as the installation of an aeration system. Improvements also include aquascaping and shoreline planted buffers designed to reduce the presence of geese, thereby alleviating the nitrification of the ponds. Restoration of the ponds should also help to control insect (mosquito) populations naturally while creating an improved fish habitat. Each of the projects will cost approximately $150,000.
Of the 17 first round nominations, it is recommended that funds in the amount of $1,500,000 be reserved for five projects.
Head of Manhasset Bay Aquatic Habitat Restoration
Lower Hempstead Harbor Aquatic Habitat Restoration
North Sheets Creek and Manorhaven Park
Roslyn Pond Park
Hempstead Harbor Trail Stormwater Mitigation
While construction funds may not be needed until 2002-2003, Legacy Funds should be made available for the preparation of feasibility studies and design and engineering plans.
1. Head of Manhasset Bay Aquatic Habitat Restoration - A multi-faceted project with measurable benefits for improved water quality, habitat protection, and public open space enhancement. The project scope includes wetland restoration, shoreline stabilization, drainage, sediment removal and erosion control. Estimated at $5.5 million, 75 percent of the funding could come from the Army Corps of Engineers with the remainder eligible for State and County funds. The amount and timing of Legacy Funds will be dependent on the completion of detailed feasibility and design plans by the Army Corps.
2. Lower Hempstead Harbor Habitat Restoration - This project will result in improved water quality and water flow as well as sorely needed habitat enhancement. The subject of an Army Corps of Engineers study for the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, improvements include restoration and creation of tidal marches, shoreline stabilization, stormwater management and erosion control, and sediment removal. Depending on the selected scope, the cost of improvement range from $1 million to $5.5 million. This project is eligible for 75 percent funding from the Army Corps with the remainder eligible for State funding. The amount and timing of Legacy Funds will be dependent on the completion of detailed feasibility and design plans by the Army Corps.
3. North Sheets Creek and Manorhaven Park - These Town-owned lands have major environmental and recreational importance. They have been subject to severe erosion, habitat destruction and wetlands die-off. The use of the Town boat ramp has also been adversely affected. Legacy Funds will be needed for construction that is anticipated to begin in 2002. Funds may also be needed for the preparation of design and engineering plans. Improvements are estimated at $1.3 million and are eligible for State funds.
4. Roslyn Pond Park - An important and widely used Town park, sedimentation, non-point source pollution and loss of fresh water wetlands have adversely impacted the ponds within the Park as well as lower Hempstead Harbor. Improvements are estimated to cost $2,250,000 and include dredging, shoreline restoration, planting of vegetative buffers, upland stormwater mitigation and runoff control. Legacy Funds will be needed for construction that is anticipated to begin in 2002 and may also be needed for the preparation of design and engineering plans.
5. Hempstead Harbor Trail Stormwater Mitigation - This project addresses stormwater runoff from road ways which has resulted in habitat and water quality degradation. Mitigation at one outfall is being proposed at a cost of $250,000. The project scope could be expanded in the future to include up to ten more outfall areas. The timing of construction should be coordinated with the Hempstead Harbor Aquatic Habitat Restoration project.