The Village of Port Washington North is planning a number of amenities along Shore Road in addition to those already in place (described in prior issues of the Port Washington News).
The major project is the Baywalk Park, which is entering a new phase, which has recently received approval from the DEC (NY State Department of Environmental Conservation) for a new phase. According to Port Washington North Mayor Bob Weitzner, the plans include a 10-foot-wide walkway on the west side of Shore Road that would replace the sidewalk that is there now. The walkway, intended for walkers, runners and bikers, is considered part of the Manhasset Bay trail system. Weitzner said that the trail is designed to be not only recreational, but historic and educational as well. He said, "Site displays and educational signage are an integral part of the Baywalk. They are designed to describe what is there and to give us a sense of the history." He said that the village created a communitywide nautical art committee to help attract local artists to create signage that depicts local history. As part of this initiative, Weber and Sousa students participated in an art contest.
Another feature of the Baywalk is an L-shaped pier, which would be located on the old Lewis Oil property directly across from the Stop & Shop shopping center. The pier will include a canopy at the end, a fishing/sunning area, a floating dock where boats and water taxis can moor, and accommodations for kayaking. Weitzner said that they plan for the pier to be a stop on the annual Twin Pines/Community Chest kayak run. He added that the pier will be part of the town's so-called "blue trail," a water trail of marinas, launching sites, and other points along the water. He said, "We have been very anxious to be a part of that." He added, "This is a great location where boaters can frequent amenities like supermarkets, marine suppliers, other retailers, marinas and restaurants."
Along the walk will be "Battery Park" lights, named after an old American style of lighting. Weitzner said, "I don't want a contemporary feel." There will also be benches along the way, as well as a protection rail that will be wide enough to sit on.
Weitzner said that, although the village of Port North is spearheading the plans, it has been a communitywide effort, involving the other villages and the Town of North Hempstead. He said, "It is for the benefit of the entire community, and has required over five years of getting community consensus." Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington has also been involved in providing input to the project.
Funding for the project will come from the state, county, town and private contributions. The next step is Army Corps of Engineers approval for the bulkheading, with which Weitzner anticipates no problem. Subsequently, an RFP (request for proposals) will be published. The mayor expects to begin work by the summer of 2008. The second phase, to come later, will be to develop the open space to the right of the pier, which is owned by the village.
At the same time, the village is working with the county on the "Safer Shore Road" project. As part of this initiative, they have already installed crosswalks and a traffic monitoring device. The effort includes the installation of additional countdown signals at the crossings; there are already two, and they are planning to add perhaps as many as a dozen more. Other enhancements will include ramps for the handicapped and the extension of the brick crosswalks from Old Shore Road to Cow Neck Road. Weitzner claimed that the combination of an audible detection system with a countdown system is a first in the Town of North Hempstead. He also pointed out that the project sports the "Shared Vision" logo, an official imprimatur from the town. Weitzner said, "All the mayors met and conceptually all are on board." He intends to put the project out to bid, and hopes to get under way next year. Weitzner added that he is also trying to persuade the county to repave Shore Road.
Another major Port North initiative involves the so-called "Danaher" property, prior home to Thompson Industries. Currently, Damast, an importer and assembler of hair items and novelties, owns the approximately 11-acres and occupies the large building. The village, according to Weitzner, is looking to acquire about two acres, which includes a smaller building to be used for village hall, justice hall, a public works depot and a village club. The latter, currently planned for village residents only, will include a large recreation room with two or three tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, and snack bar. The village is also looking to acquire 5 acres from Publishers Clearing House. This property, combined with the front lawn, would provide a total of approximately seven acres of open space for the community. Weitzner added that at the end of the Publishers Clearing House property the village intends to create a dog run, which he said was very much wanted by community residents.
This project is essentially an "exchange" for the property adjacent to Mill Pond Acres, which was originally conceived as a community recreation area. In lieu of the original plan, the village intends to permit low-density development on that site of about 44 housing units on eight acres that had been given to the village by the Mill Pond developer. This would be in exchange for an approximately equal amount of land in a more desirable location. Weitzner said that he felt that the site along Shore Road was more desirable for a village hall and for a recreational area. Weitzner said, "In order for it to work, the entire package has to go through. I believe that the entire package works for the community and the businesses."
Also in Port Washington North, the town is planning major work on Mill Pond. According to Town Council Member Fred Pollack, they are going to drain, dredge and reshape the bottom by putting a liner over it. The project will include putting a retaining wall as well as filters to swirl on the bottom to clean out the silt. Pollack said that there will be a gate that opens and closes to keep the level of the pond high enough to prevent it from filling in again and to prevent too much sand from going into the bay. Pollack said that almost all the financing will come from federal, state and county grants. He said that landscaping will come courtesy of Dorothy and Ed Slade, who gave $100,000 to Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington for landscaping. Pollack pointed out the purposes of the project are both environmental and esthetic. He said, "Mill Pond is filling in, and we have to do something to correct that."