Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
On August 17, Town Councilman Fred L. Pollack was the guest speaker at the Twin Pines Kayak Club’s meeting in the Community Chest Building, gathering input and ideas from everyone who attended for the Town of North Hempstead’s Blueway Trail, which will allow kayakers greater access to the town’s expansive waterways. The proposed Blueway Trail, which is a water path with launch points that is developed around an abundance of scenery and land based attractions, would be the first of its kind on Long Island. Town officials say that it will provide opportunities for recreation, environmental stewardship, education, tourism, wildlife viewing and connections to other recreational trails in the area.
Councilman Pollack said, “A blueway trail, in what we’re trying to do, is a promotional tool to encourage kayakers, canoers, and those who sail in small boats to utilize Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor. Hopefully, we will be able to utilize this as a way to encourage people not only who are local, but who are from other areas in Long Island to come to Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor, because they will have places to go, places to stay, and places to see that are interesting.” Pollack added that the trail is also an educational tool, in terms of environmental access and environmental activities, and it is also an economic tool, because it has the potential to bring people to local restaurants and shops.
Pollack explained that several years ago, the Town of North Hempstead received a package of grants worth $175,000 from the Division of Coastal Resources. The town hired a consulting firm in early 2009 to develop a survey and start the public outreach process. After the consulting firm receives enough information from the public on what is desired and needed for the blueway trail, the firm will develop a proposal.
“There are so many little spots along the water,” Pollack said. “We have 32 miles of waterfront in the Town of North Hempstead and what we want to do is find out every single place where somebody who is in a kayak or canoe might be able to launch or stop by the water to relax.” Pollack added that the town would consider building camping areas or picnic areas in a location that people have suggested as an interesting place to stop. Also, Oyster Bay started a blueway trail for their portion of Hempstead Harbor several years ago, and Pollack said that the North Hempstead blueway trail could coordinate with the Oyster Bay one, making it so people could use both trails all along Hempstead Harbor.
As for the timeframe of this project, Pollack said that it would probably take about eight months – maybe a little longer, maybe a little less. He said that some of this deals with factors beyond the town’s control; such as how many surveys are completed and how much time the consultants need to gather information.
One person at this meeting said that parking would be an important piece for the trail. Pollack agreed, saying that the town should utilize existing parking wherever possible. Additionally, Pollack said that once they have gathered suggested locations, the town would need cooperation from the municipalities that control these areas.
Another person suggested working with the Village of Port Washington North to use their dock, which has been developed through the Baywalk project. Pollack said that this would make sense for parking too, in that the town might be able to cooperate with Stop & Shop over the large parking lot across the street from this area.
Another suggested location for a launching and stopping point was the old fishing pier at North Hempstead Beach Park. One person said that it is sort of an eyesore now, and that it would be nice to do something with it. Pollack said that the town is looking into that as an option, adding that they will not be able to take it down, but they could possibly get a permit to repair it. “We are looking at that option and we are doing a lot of work at North Hempstead Beach Park to try to improve things. We are doing it with a great deal of thought and we are trying to do it all with grants and with public input,” Pollack said.
Other suggestions were to create places to store kayaks, canoes, and small boats. Additionally, people wondered about bathroom facilities, and Pollack said that it would be great to utilize existing facilities and that the town could possibly put some in, as well.
Pollack encouraged everyone to fill out the survey so the town could gather all of these good ideas. “We need to have the people who are out there and really enjoy the harbors and the bays to tell us what the interesting activities and launch and stop points are,” Pollack said. The survey asks various questions about where you kayak, where you canoe, and what types of activities you are looking for, which will help the town develop this trail. Currently, the online survey can be found by going to the town website at www.northhempsteadny.gov. Then, click on “Government,” followed by “News & Press Releases,” and then select “2010.” From the list of press releases, select “7/14 – North Hempstead Seeks Residents Input on Creation of Water Trail,” and the link to the survey can be found in this press release.