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Drone racing course among ideas for revamped N. Hempstead park

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth says a master

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth says a master plan for North Hempstead Beach Park that's being developed by an architecture firm is still in the "preliminary brainstorming stages," but will encompass the community's wishes. Above, Bosworth in the park's miniature golf area on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

If residents have their way, North Hempstead’s largest park might one day feature an archery range, large wind turbines or even a drone racing course.

Those are some of the suggestions residents have given town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who has spent the past few weeks gathering ideas on how to improve North Hempstead Beach Park. Now the town is waiting for an architectural firm to develop a master plan that encompasses community input. The goal is to transform the park into a “beautiful recreational destination,” Bosworth said.

“I remember first coming to the park and thinking what incredible potential it has,” Bosworth told residents in New Hyde Park who gathered recently to share their ideas.

North Hempstead Beach Park is a two-part property with 90 acres and 1.25 miles of shoreline directly east of West Shore Road and a separate 200 acres of untouched woodlands west of the road. For much of its existence, North Hempstead owned half the park and Nassau County owned the other half, which was known as Bar Beach. In October 2010, the county gave its share to North Hempstead.

The town has hired Manhattan-based architectural firm Quennell Rothschild & Partners for the project. Bosworth said the forthcoming master plan will give the town a better idea of the project’s scope.

“Right now we are in the preliminary brainstorming stages of this project,” she said. “As we get a clearer idea of what is on the community’s wish list, we can address financing possibilities, including grant opportunities.”

In the meantime, North Hempstead is still spending money to improve the park. In January, town officials approved almost $204,000 to connect the park’s restroom pipes to Port Washington’s main sewer system. An additional $82,500 in state grant money will go toward promoting three festivals slated for this summer.

Between the weekly Funday Monday for senior citizens and summer events such as Kidstock and Memorial Day fireworks, “this park gets used, but it could be used much better,” Bosworth said.

Dozens of residents offered ideas on how to accomplish that, some as simple as adding lighting and improving docks. Others suggested more complex plans such as adding a brewery or electric car-charging station.

Isa Rahman of Port Washington said the park needs a dedicated dock for rowing, kayaking and other boating activities.

“You can’t have that in the same spot as the fishing pier,” he said. “And they need to upgrade the bathrooms, too.”

Residents said there’s too much concrete lining the front entrance, the parking lot frequently floods and lacks enough food vendors.

Donna Wallace of New Cassel said she wants to see renovated restrooms, more concession stands and less concrete.

“And they need to have more permanent structures somewhere where people can sit and be shaded during park programs,” Wallace said.

Bosworth said the public will have a chance to see the firm’s master plan before any money is committed to the revamp.

Residents’ wish list

Changes and suggestions for the renovation of North Hempstead Beach Park include:

  • Better lighting
  • Nature trail at the 200-acre woodland area
  • Food trucks or a farm-to-table restaurant
  • Indoor/outdoor swimming pool
  • Wind turbines
  • Archery range
  • Brewery
  • Clam bar

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