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Manorhaven Rain Garden Discussed at Recent Public Meeting

Manhorhaven Beautification Committee Being Formed

An informational public discussion of the Manorhaven Rain Garden project was held at the Manorhaven Village Hall on April 6. Many people came to this meeting to ask questions and receive more information on this project, which is planned to start this summer.

Boards showing photos of the proposed elements of the rain garden were on display in order to provide more information to the residents. Some of the rain garden plants include Black-Eyed Susan, Wild Geranium, Blue Flag Iris, Columbine, Jacob’s Ladder, and different variations of phlox. Streetscape elements are also a part of the rain garden, which could include permeable pavement, banners, signs, benches, trash receptacles, and various types of lighting, such as solar, contemporary, and traditional.

Greater Port Washington BID Executive Director Roy Smitheimer said that the Rain Garden is a part of the NY Main Street Program, which the Village of Manorhaven had encouraged the BID to apply for in 2005. There is $200,000 in reimbursement monies coming from this program, which involves three elements: building renovation, façade improvements, and streetscape. “It’s a 50 percent reimbursement from the state, so [for example] the state’s going to put $10,000 up. Thanks to the very progressive actions of the village, they’re going to put up $5,000, so the property owners only have to put up $5,000,” Smitheimer said. “The bottom line is that it is going to make the whole street 100 percent better.”

Smitheimer stated that the BID took the input of Mayor Mike Meehan, the village trustees, and Environmental Commissioner Jeff Zeh on what should be done with the streetscape plan. He also explained that Retnauer Design Associates are working on this project and helping during the conceptual phase. Additionally, Smitheimer said that the concept of a rain garden as a streetscape has never been done before in Long Island.

Bob Retnauer, president of RDA Landscape Architects, gave a presentation that provided further information on the benefits of a rain garden. He stated that rain gardens filter out sediment and other pollutants such as oil, grease, and heavy metals by catching about the first inch of runoff, which contains the highest concentration of pollutants. Also, he said that rain gardens recharge groundwater by capturing runoff in shallow depressions and letting it soak into the ground. Rain gardens also slow runoff and erosion, since plant roots and gravel filters help reduce and slow the speed of rainwater runoff and help keep valuable topsoil from running into streams and bays. Retnauer also said that rain gardens reduce urban heat, since lush plantings help cool the temperatures along a streetscape, as opposed to pavement that soaks up the heat. This also helps conserve energy. Additionally, he said that rain gardens utilize native plants, which increase biodiversity, require less water, and attract beneficial wildlife. In conclusion, Retnauer said that rain gardens help beautify streets, reduce maintenance, and decrease flooding by reducing clogged drains.

Some of the people in attendance were concerned about maintenance of the rain garden. Mayor Mike Meehan said that with the help of Manorhaven Environmental Commissioner Jeff Zeh, a beautification committee is being formed. Meehan added that you do not have to live in Manorhaven to join the committee.

Jeff Zeh provided further detail on the beautification project that the village is planning, which will begin the weekend after Earth Day. “We are going to do plantings at village hall, at the pocket park, and a few other places in the village,” he said. Zeh added that they need the help of volunteers and encouraged people to sign up.

Village Clerk Jon Fielding added that the purpose of this meeting and this conceptual phase is to get everyone’s sentiments on this project. “It will be useful to tell us which things you like and which things you don’t like,” he said. “Bob’s job is to do a synthesis of this input, to do what makes sense and what will please everyone in the village.”

Bob Retnauer agreed with Fielding and added, “The more info we get from you, the easier our job is, actually.”

Roy Smitheimer stated that the BID is open to having another public meeting and Mayor Meehan also said that he could call another meeting to discuss this project.

More information on this project can be provided from RDA Landscape Architects, 631-979-5600; the Manorhaven Village Hall, 883-7000; and the Business Improvement District at 883-8890. In addition, if you would like to sign up for the Manorhaven Beautification Committee, contact the village hall at 883-7000.