North Hempstead officials plan to hire design professionals to remake Alvan O. Petrus Park, the dilapidated housing authority property in Port Washington.
Town officials and residents see a new basketball court, picnic benches and a walking track in what is now a garbage-strewn, fenced-off 1.5-acre site.
The town board is set to hire Cashin Associates, a Hauppauge-based engineering firm, to create plans for the overgrown space under a $100,000 design work contract. The town will acquire the site from the North Hempstead Housing Authority after the town submits an application to the Nassau County Planning Commission and it gives final approval. The lot will be a town park.
Residents for years had pushed for the deteriorating site to be renovated. But the property's manager closed it in 2008 to secure the area, housing authority executive director Sean Rainey has said. Since then, weeds have grown through the blacktop of the basketball court, and graffiti has covered the backboards.
Stacy Brown, secretary of the Hands of Change Civic Association in Port Washington, said she is "overwhelmed with joy" that the park is to be reclaimed. Her group, made up of residents who remember the park when it was better maintained, had advocated for its rehabilitation.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the park should have the "proverbial basketball court," but be "much more than that -- where grandmoms can take their grandchildren and families can meet and have picnics."
Brown said she hopes the park becomes a multigenerational space, where "seniors and the children have a safe place to play." She said she envisions courts for handball and basketball as well as a walking track.
Cashin Associates was among several firms to propose initial design plans after the town issued a request for proposals. Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said Cashin's plan tackles the park's hilly topography and dense trees blocking sight lines. A new entrance on Port Washington Boulevard would make the park more visible, De Giorgio said.
Officials said the design firm is to submit detailed plans that will be reviewed by members of the community.
Town officials said taking over the site is a way to guarantee it stays as park land.
The plan calms worries about the property's future, which had been in doubt. In 2011, a senior housing development was proposed for the site, but plans fell through amid community opposition.