(Ed's note: The following letter was sent to the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District and printed here at the writer's request.)
This is in response to your direct mail piece, which is impressive. While I commend your efforts, I remain perplexed about why much of the area in which we live remains in decay.
I remember speaking to area residents before we purchased six years ago, and hearing about plans to make the area along Port Boulevard (Rte. 101) attractive. Since then, nothing has changed. Much of the area north of St. Francis to Main Street remains the same old scruffy strip of commercial buildings and barely passable sidewalks it always was.
Taking my toddler for a walk on the Boulevard to Main Street is a daily disappointment. I always line the bottom of our stroller with a trash bag and pick up litter and weeds as we walk, wondering what can be done to stop the insanity. Am I crazy to care?
It's ironic that in a town with such rich ethnic and economic diversity, not to mention a huge tax base, private police force, etc., someone can remain asleep at the wheel for so long! I may not be versed in local politics, but this one is clear.
Port Boulevard falls under the jurisdiction of the State of NY, a bureaucracy without interest or resources to maintain this stretch of enterprise. (I've spent hours calling NYS officials only to hear "It's not my job," "No funding," etc.) Other than requisite plowing, we are on our own in terms of keeping the Boulevard free of litter and overgrown vegetation. Let's admit that this terminal dysfunction exists and find a solution, rather than think it may somehow change.
Clearly there isn't a plan in place - or if there is, it certainly isn't enforced - for Boulevard business owners and operators to keep their sidewalks and surrounding areas tidy and attractive. Are there laws? Who is responsible for enforcement?
I say initiate a plan that requires Port businesses to step up to the plate and clean up their act. They're charging us a premium for gas, food, laundry services and more. Can't they at least have some respect and tidy their area? Is speeding the only issue minders of the Boulevard care about? Perhaps if we made the Boulevard attractive, drivers would slow to take in the beauty rather than speed away from the blight!
Since I want to find a solution to this problem of sheer complacency, I volunteer to spearhead the effort to enforce businesses and the public to clean up Rte. 101. I'm not talking about lights and fancy street signs. Not that these are frivolous expenditures (entirely), but clearly there are bigger issues that need attention. I say institute an awareness campaign whereby responsible businesses are rewarded and corporate slackers are chastised. Good corporate citizens such as Nassau Knolls Cemetery, Mobil, the Fire Department and others would be singled out for their beautification efforts, while offenders such as Eastern Strawberry, Chester's (how long do we have to look at old tires on the sidewalk?) and the owners of the shopping center that rent to the (great) Let There Be Bagels and My Gym businesses, among others are publicly exposed. The latter would be identified as such, with consumers urged to not support these offenders. There's nothing like unrealized profit to motivate uncaring merchants! I'd enlist the support of the regional media to publicize such efforts and failures.
I will do the basic sprucing myself since our town can't won't. I just ask for use of a town truck; weed whackers and edgers to clear and redefine sidewalks; electric to power the tools, and leaf bags. Put those forced into community service to help me too. I refuse to get into an "analyze till you paralyze" situation with officials. Enough. Stop the insanity!
This is a very different issue from the great, much-needed works done by the GPWBID and Citizens for a More Beautiful PW. I am talking about basic upkeep. Clearly NYS has abandoned us; businesses are not forced to care, and all are resigned to the fact that this stretch will continue to be ignored.
How about instituting a program that taps into area schools and organizations such as religious groups, Scout troops and athletic programs. Together we can implement a cooperative program that combats litter and unsightly landscapes, and underscores the importance of personal and corporate responsibility.
Additionally, let's advise Boulevard businesses that we - in this upscale town in which they choose to operate - have high standards. Tell our economic development folks that we need to see more effective commercial barriers to entry in Port, which will protect all Port stakeholders. Let's create upkeep codes if none exist, enforce them, and impose hefty fines or penalties for anyone who so much as tosses away a gum wrapper! Not in our backyard!
I am confident we can all work together to address such basic maintenance issues.
On behalf of the board of directors of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, I am writing to congratulate the school board for accepting the recommendations of the Salem Environmental Ad Hoc Committee.
Since its inception, Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington has been concerned with all aspects of the environmental health of the peninsula. When the school board voted to reopen the school, Residents' Board member Paul Stewart reviewed the existing environmental reports, and determined that several key questions remained unanswered.
Mr. Stewart's report was then presented to Dr. Gordon and to the entire school board for review.
To the credit of Dr. Gordon and the entire school board, the suggestions were heeded, and Laura Mogul, president of the school board, formed the Ad Hoc Committee. That committee reviewed all evidence, and determined that, while there was no evidence of environmental problems, it would be best if certain additional testing would be performed.
The committee, comprised of five members of the community, voted unanimously on June 8, 2004 to recommend additional environmental testing of the Salem Elementary School. On June 15, 2004, the school board accepted the recommendations, and voted to hire a firm to perform the additional testing. It is my understanding that the testing is now being conducted, and we look forward to receiving the results of that additional testing in the near future.
Residents believe that this is an example of a cooperative and productive approach, and we publicly wish to thank the school board and Dr. Gordon for making this possible.
We look forward to receiving the results.