More than three years after being shuttered, Alvan O. Petrus Park may be reopening for public use in revitalized form, but not before being a political pawn.
Ground will be broken for such additions as swings, basketball courts and picnic tables in late spring or early summer of 2014, said Dina De Giorgio, the town legislator whose district the park is in.
The news comes amid a hard-fought election in which De Giorgio is taking on Judi Bosworth for town supervisor. Bosworth, currently a legislator from Great Neck, also says she is a proponent of the park.
“Judi Bosworth is trying to use a project that she had nothing to do with to gain a foothold in Port Washington,” De Giorgio said. “This plan has been in place for awhile. The money was allocated in early 2013.”
That’s a bit different from Bosworth’s version. “As a candidate for town supervisor I am familiarizing myself with the issues that are important to the people that I hope to represent,” Bosworth said. “It’s unfortunate this has become a campaign issue and didn’t get the attention it deserved in the intervening years.”
Bosworth says just days before he resigned, Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman contacted her and said he had placed $250,000 in his capital budget to rebuild and restore the shuttered park on Harbor Road in Port Washington. Kaiman could not be reached for comment.
Getting the park reopened would be “one of my first commitments” if elected, Bosworth told the Port Washington News. “The park is vital to addressing the needs of the community.”
Bosworth’s opponent, De Giorgio, is also advocating on behalf of the park, saying “it will restore an area that has a lot of significance. It will give the children an open place to play, which they now lack.”
The park was closed around 2009 as the North Hempstead Town Housing Authority sought to use the 1.5-acre site to build additional housing units. The park sits next to the Harbor Homes affordable housing complex.
A local civic group, The Hands Of Change Association, and the Port Washington Parks Conservancy fought the move. In an acrimonious meeting with the Town Board, the groups pointed out that the park was the only recreational area in the neighborhood, and residents would suffer from losing it. The League of Women Voters and hundreds of citizen activists were also opposed to losing the park. As a result, the Housing Authority withdrew its application to build the housing units.
But the park remained closed. Sean Rainey, executive director of the housing authority, did not respond to requests for comment about why.
Now the Town is expected to provide funds to open the park and restore the landscaping and the basketball court. The Port Washington Parks Conservancy will donate private contributions to add picnic tables and chairs and other amenities to the site.