Group targets bank in effort to use park

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Frustrated residents of the Harbor Homes housing complex demonstrated in Port Washington on Saturday in a bid to regain access to a neighborhood park.

Nearly 20 Harbor residents and nearby homeowners, some carrying signs, marched in front of the Port Washington branch of Chase Bank, which has ties to the corporation that controls Alvan O. Petrus Park.

"They're the backers -- they have the money," said Ray Ross, 42, treasurer of the Hands of Change Civic Association, which advocates for open space.

Ross said the group is targeting Chase after meetings with officials from the Town of North Hempstead and the local housing authority failed to get the 1.5-acre park reopened.

"This is our backyard, and they've fenced it off, and kicked us out," Ross said. "Nobody's really listening, so . . . now we're at the bank."

A spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which owns the bank, said a subsidiary invested in a fund that became a limited partner in the Harbor Homes affordable housing complex.

"We do not have any responsibility for, or say in, the day-to-day management and operations of the property," spokesman Patrick Linehan said of the housing complex.

Hands of Change members said the park was fenced off two years ago for a since-abandoned housing development plan. That was after decades of use by Harbor Homes residents for basketball, barbecues and picnics.

The North Hempstead Housing Authority and town board members could not be reached for comment Saturday.

But Councilwoman Dina M. DeGiorgio said she has been working with the housing authority and the Town of North Hempstead on a plan to reopen the park, and will present it at a town board meeting July 31.

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