Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00
At the Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington Annual Gala on March 21, it was announced that Port Washington has been named County Pilot for a “Vibrant Downtown.”
Executive Director Mindy Germain explained that there was a study done by the Long Island Index that analyzed 156 communities around Long Island to see which communities have the potential to be a vibrant downtown, and Port had been selected as one of several communities with potential. Germain described that through the hard work of the Residents board of directors and many other community groups over the last year, they were able to convince Nassau County that Port Washington should be the pilot for the entire county for this vibrant downtown development.
“I’m very happy to report that we have been awarded that pilot,” Germain said. “The process has already begun. In December, the county brought a truckload of consultants to check out our entire peninsula. That evening we hosted a workshop of 50 individuals who have a stake in this peninsula – we all came together to study the issues.”
Co-President Rick Krainin spoke about rezoning for a vibrant downtown through two overlay districts in order to create smart growth. Krainin described one district as a “transit oriented overlay district” that would cover the area around Port Boulevard and upper Main Street. He described the second district as a “tourist oriented development” that would cover the area around lower Main Street, Shore Road, and Manorhaven Boulevard. “It would make Port Washington a destination place, where people want to shop and visit, and where we want to live,” Krainin said. He also added that these districts have design guidelines that would help shape and streamline the look of these areas.
Krainin also touched on congestion issues in Port Washington and their ideas for fixing this problem. “One answer may be to think about new routes and connections,” Krainin said. “If you look behind Main Street, you’ll see a hodgepodge of parking lots. Wouldn’t it be great if they were all connected, and you could have one long place for shoppers to be able to park and get about town?” He added that there could be a route behind Main Street that could relieve some of the traffic and possibly allow for bike lanes and pedestrian areas. “There’s a lot of possibilities, and we really need to think outside of the box,” he said.
For commuter and shopper parking, Krainin said that Councilman Pollack has announced that the town is going to be taking a look at acquiring additional sites for parking. He said that they are looking at the idea of satellite parking and shuttles. “These are all the kinds of things that need to be explored to really encourage people to leave their cars at home, to leave their cars in one place to really get to explore Port Washington,” Krainin explained.
Another idea that Krainin explained was creating better linkages throughout the area. He stated that there is an opportunity to have a walkway all along the water from the Town of North Hempstead Beach to the Village of Roslyn.
“The message is we need to think big and we need to think different,” Germain added. “For us, livable streets will put a bigger tax base in Port Washington and will result in an economic gain.”
County Executive Ed Mangano was also in attendance and added his comments on this project. “In Nassau County, we’re committed to assisting your organization and organizations like yours that put in the time and effort and really have the vision to improve your own community,” Mangano said. “I understand how long a road it’s been to get to here and in Nassau County, we’re certainly going to support you.”
Mangano added that the best proof of that is his new Deputy County Executive Patrick Foye, who is a Port Washington resident. “He is leading up economic development efforts, local opportunity efforts, and he’s a close advisor and works real, real hard seven days a week trying to make Nassau County a better place to live, work, and raise a family, so I’m thrilled to have Pat on board,” Mangano said.
Mangano stated that he will work toward fulfilling this vision for a vibrant downtown. “Our vision in Nassau County, I like to say, is getting things done. We’re very much into measurable results. I see you have the plans on the way, so let’s get to the reality of it: let’s see the improvements that we can feel and touch for the betterment of our generation and to future generations,” he said. In order to fund these projects, Mangano said that the wastefulness of the real property tax assessment system needs to come to an end, and that the county is working towards fixing this problem.
In conclusion, Mangano thanked Residents for their service to the community. “I believe that your best days are now here and ahead of you,” he said. “I look forward, through Nassau County and with the help of Patrick Foye, to make your vision a reality.”
Dan Donatelli introduced the honorees at this annual gala, who were Annette Oestreich and State Bank, with Lucy Mazany accepting the award.
Annette Oestreich detailed her history with Residents, and how she and her late husband, Robert, became involved with the organization 20 years ago to fight against the proposed landfill and garbage incinerator, which would have been placed in the area where Harbor Links stands today. She said that the town had been dumping all of its garbage at the southern end of the Port Washington sand pits and that the town had planned to buy the rest of the sand pits to build an incinerator there. “They were going to pay for it by taking in garbage from all over the island, so Port Washington was on its way to becoming the garbage capital of Long Island,” she said.
Annette described all of the hard work that Residents and other groups put in to fight against this incinerator, and that the tables finally turned when Ben Zwirn was elected Town Supervisor in 1989. “So instead of a big garbage dump, we’re here tonight, having a beautiful dinner, surrounded by a beautiful golf course, beautiful homes and a senior community, and we can enjoy our beaches without smelling garbage,” Annette said, receiving much applause from everyone. “This shows that if you come together for a common cause, you can work miracles.”
Annette added that while many improvements have been made to Port Washington, Main Street has been left behind. “It is still 1960 on Main Street,” Annette said. “It is in disrepair, stores are vacant, sidewalks cracked, litter is all over, apartments are overcrowded, traffic is terrible, and buildings are unattractive and in need of a face lift. Main Street now needs a miracle.” She added that Residents is taking the lead in this project, and that with everyone’s support, the beauty and commercial viability of our Main Street can be regained. “Together, we can create another miracle,” she said.
Lucy Mazany, vice president of State Bank, accepted this honor from Residents on behalf of State Bank. She stated that the bank’s history with Residents dates back to 2002 when they first opened a branch in Port Washington. “Since that time, we have proudly supported the mission of Residents through financial support and by serving on the board of directors,” Mazany said. “Not only has Residents benefited from our support, but we in turn have benefited from the beautiful gardens the Residents have planted near our branch and the lessons they impart to us as to how to conduct business in an environmentally responsible way. Over the next 40 years, I hope that the two organizations are still going strong, continuing to make a difference to those they serve,” she added.
Mindy Germain said that they are expanding to eight more blocks for the Clean Green Zone on April 24. The Clean Green Zone currently stretches across eight blocks from Port Boulevard to Mackey Avenue and will be expanded down to Blumenfeld Park and the library. Many people in the community volunteer to clean up these streets. “Anybody can come; bring your kids and bring your gardening gloves. We’re going to dig in the dirt, we’re going to pick up garbage, and we’re going to clean up Main Street,” Germain said.
She also added that Residents wants everyone to stay involved and that the group is now on Facebook and they also have a very dynamic website: http://pwresidents.org/. “We are so thankful to have a seat at the table as we continue the visioning process, and we encourage you to email us and to make sure that we have your email address so we can email you,” she said. “We are going to be having community workshops to further discuss our programs and we want you to have a seat at the table.”