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Letter: Model Blocks Proposal

I am writing regarding the discussion about the Model Blocks program that Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington and the Town of North Hempstead are endorsing. I am shocked and horrified that the idea of having the first four blocks of Main Street modified and made to be more “uniform” has even been considered, much less proposed.

I was born and raised in Port Washington, and have raised my children here too. It is a unique town that mixes the old with the new in a balanced way that you don’t often see. This is one of the reasons why so many people from other areas have relocated here and raised their children here too. When I was growing up here, it was a much smaller town, with lots of small businesses that were run by our local neighbors, who we all knew, or went to school with their children. It has changed a lot since then, not always for the better, but change is inevitable. Change is also progress, so I accept most of it willingly.

However, the proposal by some architect to change and modify the very backbone of our town (Main Street) is just unacceptable. It clearly demonstrates the fact that the firm proposing this has no connection to our town in any way, but has been hired just the same to present the proposal to change the facades of the buildings on Main Street “to allow for the development and construction of four-story, mixed use Business/Residential buildings.” I have heard that one of the buildings brought up often during the open forum that was held, was the building that houses Arena Sports. To “townies” this is known as the “Stannard Brothers Building.” Although they have not owned it for many years, this is one of the original families from Port, so it certainly holds some historical significance. In addition, Arena Sports provides a great resource both for our children and sports enthusiasts alike as they have anything you need, along with a personal approach to assisting you. Have the architects at this firm ever had to stop in there on the way to a game to replace the missing kneepads or other sports equipment for one of their kids? I would guess not, as they don’t live here, but they want to tell us how it should be changed.

The thing that really shocks me is that Residents would endorse and promote such an idea. We have stood by and seen our many parks and ponds renamed after our newer neighbors that have done good things for our town. But let’s be honest, we have allowed the renaming of some areas after people that have been in this town for only a few years, taking away the names of the long-term families with historical significance in this town. This is more of the “I love this town so much, now let’s change it” mode that I have seen for a while. This is exactly what the Model Blocks program is trying to do, and we must stand up and fight this. Take a look at what was done up on Port Blvd. in the last year. If you look at the uniformity of the stores that have been redone, it looks just like any of the newer strip malls that dominate the American landscape, and has absolutely no character left in it. Is this what the people of Port Washington want? I know I don’t.

I strongly suggest that anyone that has interest in keeping our Main Street and the character of the town as it has been for generations, to stand up and take notice and object to these proposed changes in an effort to thwart this potential travesty in the name of modernization.

Bryan Jay