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Even though the Weber auditorium was filled with people attending the Town of North Hempstead's launch of the Port Washington Shared Vision project on Jan. 26, it represented just a good start to Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman. The supervisor repeatedly said throughout the meeting that he wants as much community participation in this major undertaking as possible, from both individuals and established local organizations.

"You don't have to come out on a cold night either," he noted, explaining that comments can be submitted via e-mail at www.northhempstead.com, the official website of the visioning process. If you visit the site you can read about the project and ask questions, in addition to submitting comments. For those without computers, they can contact April Brown Lake at 516-627-4062.

The supervisor is also offering to send a representative from the town to speak to any groups or organizations, from a book club to a school's HSA, on the visioning process.

What exactly is this gargantuan undertaking? According to representatives from HDR, an engineering firm that works in tangent with Sustainable Long Island, the community visioning process is designed to bring community members into the decision making process that affects their lives and strives to achieve workable visions and solutions. The shared vision plan ideally summarizes a community vision for the future, highlights community goals and outlines next steps.

In a presentation made by HDR-Sustainable Long Island, the following project goals were outlined.

* Define peninsula-wide, community-driven goals for a sustainable approach to planning.

* Define both current and long-term objectives of the Port Washington Peninsula.

* Help the town and villages prioritize the allocation of resources.

* Create a planning approach that respects the diverse needs of Port Washington residents and the institutional roles of the various governmental entities.

* Create an implementable plan for the Port Washington Peninsula.

The next step in the process is open forums. These will have a facilitator and experts available to answer any questions posed by residents. Individuals will be able to brainstorm their suggestions, and find out if their ideas for improving the community are feasible or what they entail. Community members are encouraged to participate in any or all three roundtables on various topics on the following dates.

Environment/Recreation - March 7, discussions on open space, waterfront and water quality. This could include topics like Hempstead Harbor, the Baywalk, Town Dock, parks/preserves, drinking water and Manorhaven Beach.

Support Services - March 16, discussions on infrastructure, traffic/parking, public safety/code enforcement and community services. This could look at PW Water Department, Sands Point Water Department, traffic on Main Street, PW Pollution Control District, the railroad station and road maintenance. Other areas might be the school district, library, Landmark on Main Street, and the police and fire departments.

Development - March 31, discussions on downtown/commercial corridors, housing and redevelopment/land use. Community input is being sought for areas like Port Blvd., Shore Road, Main Street and Manorhaven Blvd. Housing throughout the peninsula will also be examined.

All events will be at 8 p.m. at Weber Middle School.

Following March's open forums, the Design Event will take place in mid-April. A community presentation will take place April 14, followed by a design event weekend on April 16-17, which will include walking tours of the peninsula, in addition to small group discussions and group presentations. More opportunity for discussions will be offered for a design evening on April 18.

In June, the Community Vision Plan will be presented.

So far Supervisor Kaiman likes what he sees in terms of establishing meaningful and ongoing dialogues among the various municipalities, special districts and the town.

The Port News will be reporting the progress of the meetings. Also watch for further announcements for the April and June segments of the Shared Visioning project.


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