Port Washington's Shields building demolished

The vacant 60-year-old building on Port Washington Boulevard was demolished to make room for a parking lot and beautification project. Videojournalist: Chuck Fadely (Aug. 21, 2013) 

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A dilapidated eyesore that plagued Port Washington for more than 50 years came crashing down Wednesday in a planned demolition that clears the way for a parking lot officials say is needed.

The building, known as the Shields property at 1070 Port Washington Blvd., has long been a headache, Town of North Hempstead officials said.

"This is a property for the last, literally, 60 years that has been boarded up . . . an almost unsightly institution for the Port Washington peninsula," said Supervisor Jon Kaiman, who co-hosted the event. "For decades, it has remained idle and empty."

Town officials donned hard hats as construction crews prepared to demolish the building, something advocates and previous administrations had tried to accomplish as long as the building had been decrepit, an attendee said. The $130,000 demolition will be completed in a week.

"It's been a long time coming, too long," said Annette Oestreich, a lifelong Port Washington resident and member of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington. "The gears of government grind slowly."

The problem was that the owner did not cooperate with the town on selling the building until recently, she said.

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The Port Washington Parking District had purchased the lot, on which the structure sits. The district also purchased two other adjoining lots that will be combined into a parking lot for nearby Main Street merchants. The lot will provide 20 to 30 spaces, as well as green space.

"The biggest issue is parking," said Mitch Schwarz, co-president of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce. "I hope this helps so they can spend more money in town."

The Parking District will cover the demolition's cost.

After a late start, the backhoe drove its claw into the house. People watching exclaimed as the walls buckled and appeared ready to fold. Within an hour, the house lay in shambles, its roof on Port Washington Boulevard.

"As a resident, I have been here for 33 years and I have to say it's wonderful we are going to get rid of this unsightly structure," said North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross. "I look forward to making a productive space."

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