Written by Linda Portney Goldstein, Editorial@antonnews.com Friday, 26 April 2013 00:00
Four years after a fence went up around the one and a quarter acre parcel of land known as Alvan Petrus Park, community residents remain frustrated at the slow pace of efforts to restore the park.
According to Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, who has advocated for the park restoration since her election in 2011, the project won’t begin until the end of the year, at the earliest.
“Re-creating the park is a very complicated project and as long as we are moving forward we are making progress,” she said. ‘The money, $250,000, has been set aside by the Town to re-develop the park but we are essentially starting over.”
On April 3, a group of town officials and representatives of the engineering company Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP convened at the site to examine the current state of the property and exchange ideas on what is required to move the project forward.
“Right now we have a topographical schematic that Bowne has provided,” she said. “We have requested them to do an engineering plan which will help us to determine how much of the work we can do in house and how much has to be bid out. We hope to get started by the end of the year.”
Infrastructure has to be built including stairs, lighting, ingress, egress and facilities that will make the park compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The entry to the parcel from the rear of Littig House, the local community center has been closed since 2006, long before the fence was erected.
DeGiorgio also pointed out that although the Town has set aside money it will not be enough to see the project to completion. DeGiorgio says that she will need to do a lot of fund raising and reach out to philanthropic citizens in town to assist with the finances. The park will be developed in phases with the first being the clean-up of the property.
Wandell Thomas, President of the Hands of Change Civic Association is understandably frustrated at the pace of the re-creation of the park. “While we are happy to be moving forward, we are frustrated with the pace.”
Since 2011 Hands of Change members have lobbied town elected officials to “take down the fence and restore the park.”
The situation has been complicated by the mandate under which the Housing Authority operates, which is to provide public housing. The use of Housing Authority funds for the development and maintenance of parks is not part of its charter. The interests of outside investor, JP Morgan Chase, who acquired the property for tax credits has further complicated the issue.
Finally, the Housing Authority was able to agree to the restoration of the park as an expansion of the recreational space of Harbor Homes. In exchange, the town set aside the money to fund the restoration effort and will provide funding for park maintenance. Upon completion, the park will be open to all North Hempstead residents
JP Morgan Chase must still approve the project. People involved in the negotiations are optimistic the approval will be forthcoming.