The quarter-mile Hempstead Harbor Trail in Port Washington will be extended an extra mile after a decade of land acquisitions, the arrival of federal funds, and a town supervisor intent on revitalizing the waterfront communities of Hempstead Harbor.
It's all part of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth's waterfront visioning process for Glenwood Landing, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn and Port Washington.
Bosworth, a former Nassau County legislator who advocates for Long Island's aquifers, has made the area an administrative priority.
Last week, she lobbied federal officials in Washington for funds to remove sand from the harbor, which comes from the streets and Long Island Expressway.
Aquatic sand removal is key for the area, town officials said, as Bosworth seeks to increase use of the waters. Because the harbor is narrow, it is difficult for large boats to pass. They need permits to travel Hempstead Harbor and must come in one at a time.
The harbor is prone to sand that has run off, and removal will allow for more boats and kayaks to travel through.
"This is all within my vision, expanding the natural habitat and having a place for families to go," said Bosworth on a recent tour of the trail.
Examining the planned expansion site, she said it meets her idea of what makes "a real walk."
The trail runs from a gazebo at North Hempstead Beach Park, with views of revitalized wetlands, and ends after a quarter-mile where decades ago sandminers ushered shipments to travel to Manhattan.
The expansion will send the trail toward the Viaduct in Roslyn, and construction on it can begin mid-July. It can eventually be extended to reach 2.9 miles, depending on funding, officials said. The total cost of the mile expansion is estimated at $800,000, with $371,000 in grant funding.
The town purchased three properties since 2002, totaling nearly nine acres for the expansion, officials said.
"We're trying to protect open space," Bosworth said, adding that she hopes the harbor includes trails for rowing, and hopes to find a place for buses to relocate, some currently parked at North Hempstead Beach Park.
Dina De Giorgio, the councilwoman from Port Washington, described the park as an underutilized "hidden treasure."
"It is really our most valuable asset and what will draw businesses and tourists into North Hempstead and improve our local economy," she said.
Kevin Braun, the environmental control specialist for the town, said the shoreline trail project started in the mid-1990s, after the sandmining operation, which opened in 1865, had closed in 1989.
A high-quality sediment called Cow Bay Sand had been used to build sidewalks, skyscrapers, water tunnels, and the infrastructure of New York City.
The town intends to build benches, signs with facts about nature, and lay wood chips across the trail. Braun said he hopes to eventually connect the trail with shorter ones on the North Shore.
"It's a fabulous thing. Nobody else in Nassau County has this kind of trail along the waterway," said Myron Blumenfeld, 85, a longtime Port Washington resident. "It's piece by piece. You have to have a vision. We started it. We had to wait and wait and wait, and now Judi is completing it."