Morgan's Dock, where ferries departed for Manhattan until the Triborough Bridge opened in 1936, is poised for major upgrades as Manorhaven Village leaders, like those in other villages across Long Island, work to revitalize its business district.
The once-thriving commercial hub has been in disrepair for decades. It has been largely unused since Manorhaven purchased the quarter-acre parcel for $450,000 from the Town of North Hempstead in the early 1990s.
Its rehabilitation -- spurred by several hundred thousand dollars in grants -- would make it the village's first public dock, officials said. The site, now a grassy strip of land with a new white gazebo, is next to Manorhaven Town Park on Manhasset Bay, just a couple of blocks from downtown restaurants and shops.
Village officials and business leaders said they see Morgan's Dock as pivotal for luring boaters to stop, dock and visit the community. A proposed 80-foot floating dock at the site will invite boaters to visit, even spend the night, Mayor Giovanna Giunta said.
"What we are lacking is a vibrant business area in Manorhaven, and that's because of downturns economically in villages throughout Long Island," Deputy Mayor Lucretia Steele said.
"But we're unique in the sense that whereas other villages don't have something that would draw people in to revitalize businesses, we do," she said. "We're surrounded by this amazing landscape here."
Officials plan to use the grant money from Nassau County and the Federal Emergency Management Authority to complete the entire project. They are now working on initial phases of the project, including the dock's design, Giunta said.
Construction of a riprap seawall -- needed before the dock can be built -- is planned to begin this summer, depending on the arrival of additional grant funds.
The village has formed a committee of area business owners, Giunta and clerk-treasurer Leslie Gross to develop ideas for revitalizing the area.
Business leaders said they are eager to see Morgan's Dock renovated and reopened.
"Manorhaven is a beautiful part of Port Washington that people just seem to drive by," said Dennis Pariti, owner of Riverfish On The Bay, which opened on Orchard Beach Boulevard May 1. "It [the new dock] will bring people from all over the North Shore to come and just see it, it's a draw for more people to come into the town and spend more."
Guy LaMotta, owner of Manhasset Bay Marina for 50 years, recalled Morgan's Dock filled with 200 moorings in the 1960s.
He said if the village offers a mooring rate for residents that is lower than what private marinas charge, it could draw boaters to the site.
"It's going to be very valuable to the Village of Manorhaven if people get into buying boats," said LaMotta, who also owns the seaside restaurant LaMotta's on Matinicock Avenue. "We're a waterfront community; what's a waterfront community without the use of the waterfront?"