HOW TO CONVERT A PARK INTO A JUNKYARD
An environmentally unfriendly program courtesy of Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead.
By Bruce Piel
Chairman of PARCnassau
In 2005, then County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Jon Kaiman, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor, both noted for their policy of benign neglect of parklands under their jurisdiction, got together to make a grand plan. Mr. Suozzi who bled his parks dry of personnel, equipment and priorities would turn over to the town up to 13 county parks within the boundaries of North Hempstead, thus freeing up monies for more important programs such as more patronage appointments. Mr. Kaiman could claim the new park acreage as an accomplishment of his administration without and expenditure of money then or in the future.
This agreement was pushed through the county and town legislatures without complying with the NYS case law on alienation of municipal parks. When this violation was raised, friendly state legislators agreed to push a motion through without public notification or comment. Most of the parklands involved were small parcels, some just a neighborhood ball field. However, there were 3 parks of note, Hempstead Harbor Park, Whitney Pond Park and Manhasset Valley Park. All were in a state of disrepair especially Hempstead Harbor.
Well 8 years have passed and an inspection of Hempstead Harbor was made by PARCnassau volunteers. The result is an outrage. The main parking lot is used as a commuter parking area during the day. The beach is fenced off as being dangerous for swimmers and sunbathers. All the sand has washed away and there is no program of replenish it. The fishing pier is closed off for public safety and is slowly crumbling into the harbor. There is no proposal to repair or rebuild the pier. Strangely, an old tug boat and a couple of decrepit barges are using the pier as a mooring spot
As for the north end of the park. There are 70 to 80 school buses using the site as a storage and dispatch area. Yes, 70 to 80 buses! These are owned and operated by Huntington Coach and their affiliate companies. These vehicles are leeching petroleum products into the soil and ultimately into the harbor. Huntington Coach has a dispatch office on premises and parking for staff and other employees. This is a blatant violation of the Alienation of Municipal Parkland case law of New York State.
In addition, The Town of North Hempstead is using a large section of parkland to store rock salt, sand and other snow removal equipment. This junk is also leaching into the soil and the harbor. Any park advocate or supporter is invited to visit Hempstead Harbor Park as long as they have a strong stomach.
Whitney Pond Park and Manhasset Valley Parks are also in desperate need of rehabilitation and repair. Perhaps Mr. Mangano would ask for these parks to be transferred back to the county (not likely)
Thank you Tom and Jon for turning our county parks into junk yards. Every county taxpayer should be demanding the recovery of those parks and bring them back to the people that paid for their acquisition, development, maintenance and use.
Park Advocacy & Recreation Council of Nassau (PARCnassau)
246 Twin Lane East,
Wantagh, NY 11793