(Ed.'s note: The following was read into the record by BID Executive Director Roy Smitheimer at the TONH Board's Feb. 13th Public Hearing on Marine Promenade Developments LLC's application for a change of zone request from R-C to B-B for the back part of their property located along the south side of Lower Main Street, between Jackson and Covert Streets, opposite Sunset Park. It is printed here at the writer's request.)
On behalf of the Officers and Board of Directors of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, I am here to express the board's strong support for Marine Promenade Development LLCs' proposal to build a boutique-style hotel on Lower Main Street in Port Washington. From its inception the BID has understood the special relationship of Manhasset Bay and its waterfront to the commercial and recreational needs of our community.
As such, an integral part of the BID's mission, its dream and overwhelming vision has been to "go back to the future." In other words, use Port's past as a guide to its future. If Port is to become a destination, its commerce thrives, its recreational opportunities multiply for residents and visitors alike, we must reconnect with our single largest attribute...our waterfront. Boaters and landlubbers must have access to our restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues. Some of the items for which we have advocated are now a reality...a water taxi, waste pump-out stations around the bay at private marinas and the Town Dock, Inspiration Wharf to name a few.
However, we are still missing a key ingredient of this plan. We are missing a downtown anchor to pull this all together. And, as it turns out, a key element in making a sustainable community. In fact nearly all of those communities that have one...Great Neck, Garden City, Port Jefferson and Montauk, are considered to have successful downtowns due to having a hotel either on their waterfront or within their central business district.
And, by the way, this is not a new concept for Port Washington either.
Nearly a century ago, Port Washington was home to at least seven hotels, now we have none. Ironically, the present site for the proposed development is approximately several hundred feet to the east of our last hotel the Bradley, directly opposite the Town Dock, that burned to the ground 45 years ago, almost to the date, February 19, 1962, due to a kitchen fire.
In fact, three of the seven hotels were located in the immediate Lower Main Street area, namely, the Bradley, the Anchorage (the old Mitchell homestead, Main Street and Third Avenue) and the Cove Inn (intersection of Shore Road and Main Street where Ayhan Hassan now owns his private parking lot for his three restaurants). Furthermore, the Cove Inn was a 37 room hotel, not that much smaller than the present proposal for the new Bradley. And, one of the seven, the Old Sands Point Hotel had 80 to 100 rooms.
The bottom line is...the proposed hotel would be a positive contribution to our commercial district. By changing the zoning to permit the requested use you would be adding to the commercial property base which in recent years has shrunk from over 1,500 properties to just under 1,000. The hotel would provide for Port Washington to become a destination once again where people could spend the night, rather than having to leave to stay in other communities. And, it will generate a good number of tax dollars to our local school district, special districts such as police, fire, water, sewer, parking as well as the town and county.
The BID supports the idea of a hotel as a vibrant and positive addition to our community and our commercial district.
To paraphrase the line in the movie Field of Dreams, if you'll allow them to build it, the Port Washington community, their family members and guests will come!"
Thank you for your consideration.
Roy J. Smitheimer
Greater Port Washington
Business Improvement District Assn.