Several speakers during the annual meeting of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington (RFMBPW) echoed the comment of Dan Donatelli, co-president, regarding Port Washington’s Bay Walk.
“I’m in awe that, given the conflicting jurisdictions and environmental issues, the vision of Bay Walk became a reality,” Donatelli said. What he highlighted in his remarks is how Port Washington’s spirit of community and dedication to the environment was evident in the implementation of this project.
Bay Walk runs through land owned by the Town of North Hempstead, the villages of Baxter Estates, Port Washington North and Manorhaven. While each village has worked at a different pace, they are all committed to extending the Bay Walk from the Town Dock all the way to Manorhaven Beach Park.
Port Washington North Mayor Robert Weitzner provided history and perspective on the development of Phase I of the Bay Walk Park and Nautical Museum, which lies within the village boundaries and is the only outdoor art museum in Nassau County. The pier, museum and walk were officially dedicated upon the completion of phase one in 2011.
Weitzner reminded the audience that the site of the park was originally an oil loading dock with the oil pumped under Shore Road from storage tanks that sat on what is now the Stop N Shop shopping center.
The village has already obtained plans for the development of Phase II of its portion of the Walk which will include a kayak launch, shade sales, bicycle racks, and parking. Stop N Shop has agreed to build steps from its parking lot down to West Shore Road. An additional traffic light will provide a four-way crossing signal at the intersection near the entrance to the Park.
This first portion of Phase II is funded by a $500,000 grant from the New York State Department of State. It is estimated that building a kiosk and other amenities will require another half million dollars and the village is working on obtaining grant money.
Robert Brinkman, Manorhaven commissioner of environmental affairs and professor of global studies and geography at Hofstra University, talked about the Manorhaven section of Bay Walk. “Although we are not as far along as Port North we have recently opened the walking trail along Sheets Creek and a dog park,” he said.
Manorhaven residents, with assistance from Hofstra students, have cleaned up the shoreline along the trail and village employees patrol daily to pick up litter. Two osprey nests have been erected. Although the birds are not in residence at the moment they will be returning in the spring. The village is working on signs and amenities.
Gina Silleti, representing North Hempstead Planning Commissioner Michael Levine, said that there is design money available for the town portion of land and that she is hopeful that FEMA money is also available to assist in restoring the shoreline and bulkheads, which have been severely damaged.
Both Manorhaven and Port Washington North maintain their sections of the Bay Walk with village funds and village personnel.
During the business portion of the More Beautiful Port meeting, Chairman Kurt Trinko highlighted the organization’s accomplishments during the past year, including the “Keep Port Beautiful Pass It On” initiative; the planting and maintaining of community gardens, the advocacy for public tree planting in “Peninsula 311”; the trail expansion south of North Hempstead Harbor Park; and education in the public schools.
Executive Director Mindy Germaine gave a special thank-you to one attendee: “Myron Blumenfeld is a visionary who inspired all of this.” Blumenfeld is one of the founders of Residents for More Beautiful Port and heads the Port Washington Parks Conservancy.