Residents brainstorm ideas for North Hempstead Beach Park

Stephen Romano

Town residents gathered at the Port Washington Public Library last Wednesday to discuss possible plans for North Hempstead Beach Park, emphasizing a need for sustainability, more access to the waterfront and a park that can be used year-round.

“This is the start of a process,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “We’re starting with a blank slate and I think it will be a great, great process.”

North Hempstead Beach Park, located along West Shore Road in Port Washington, has 90 waterfront acres overlooking Hempstead Harbor, and 200 wooded acres across the street.

About 46 percent of North Hempstead residents go to the park weekly, according to a survey conducted by Quennell Rothschild & Partners, the landscape architecture firm that will design the park.

The meeting was the first of three for residents to learn about the architecture firm and relay ideas to town officials.

Nineteen percent of residents said they visit the park for special events only, and 15 percent said they visit occasionally.

Beth Franz, a senior associate with Quennell Rothschild & Partners, said a goal is to attract people to the park more often.

“Our design team is eager to create a wonderful new waterfront destination for the town, drawing from the site’s history and insight of the residents, respecting the needs and desires of the adjacent communities and with a comprehensive understanding of the environmental and economic realities,” the firm said.

Elizabeth Moran, a resident, said she wants to see use of the park in all four seasons.

The architecture firm presented the problems surrounding the park, including beach erosion and flooded parking lots during high tide, and provided pictures of possible structures for the park, which included a floating saltwater swimming pool, a natural shoreline and an ice rink.

Residents broke into groups after the presentation to brainstorm ideas to present to the town and architects.

Caroline DuBois, from Port Washington, said her group would like to see more connections, green and recreation.

“We’d like more connectivity, such as trails, bridges and a tram for seniors,” she said.

Many residents representing the Port Washington Rowing team asked for more access to the waterfront for rowers and other motorless boats.

Mindy Germain, the executive director of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, said the group is approaching the situation from a sustainability direction.

“There’s been a lot of amazing dialogue between us and other resident groups in Port Washington,” Germain said. “We’re looking for things like natural playgrounds, maybe a farm-to-table restaurant and a green amphitheater.”

One group suggested wheelchair access to the waterfront and docks and more biking paths and rain gardens.

While the 200-acre wooded area across from the park is broken into an aerodome, wetland and a natural area, many residents said they want to preserve it.

The two other meetings were to be held on Wednesday and Thursday.

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