Parks and beaches across the Town of Huntington are getting more than $700,000 in upgrades over the next few months, including equipment to aid people using wheelchairs.
The town board approved allocating money from the Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Fund for Terry Farrell Park, Kew Avenue Park, Gold Star Battalion Beach, Asharoken Beach, Fleets Cove Beach, and West Neck Beach.
The improvements include renovated tennis and basketball courts, new playground equipment and mats to enhance water accessibility for people in wheelchairs.
Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said the changes will benefit quality of life for residents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are realizing the benefits of local recreation especially now than ever before,” he said.
Town board member Joan Cergol, who co-sponsored the legislation with Lupinacci, said the fund's advisory committee did a lot of leg work in making recommendations to the board, many of which came from residents who use the parks and beaches.
“These resolutions are, by and large, community inspired improvements that guide the town in making needed improvements,” Cergol said.
Karen Steinhaus and Phil Dalton fought to get playground equipment earmarked for Kew Avenue Park in East Northport replaced.
Steinhaus said she started working to get the park upgraded in 2017 after a young relative was almost injured there. She is pleased that the town is spending money for improvements, but said she will have to see it to believe it.
“I started this in 2017 and now we are in the summer of 2020,” Steinhaus said. “Why did it take so much time and we still don’t have new equipment?”
Dalton, town steward for the park, gave kudos to Steinhaus for her efforts.
“You have an involved citizen who has done a lot to draw attention to the park and she’s done it while administrations have changed, so it’s been difficult for her to get the message up through the chain and she finally did,” he said. “But more important is that the park’s going to be safer and more appealing to the people who are paying such high taxes here.”
Dylan Thompson, 26, of Centerport, reached out to town officials in June asking for Mobi-Mats, ADA-compliant portable pathways that are barefoot friendly and offer a rollout walkway on a nonslip patented surface.
Thompson said in an email that he uses a motorized wheelchair and enjoys visiting local beaches but is not able to get close to the water because of the sand. He said state beaches have the mats, which accommodate manual and motorized wheelchairs. The mats also allow people to walk on them instead of the hot sand and makes rolling coolers and beach carts easier.
He even found the website where the town can purchase them.
“I’m thrilled,” Thompson said. “It’s exciting that they did it. When I asked them, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m definitely happy that I asked, and they are doing it. It’s going to help a lot of people, not just handicapped people.”
The board also approved spending up to $25,000 in Community Development Agency funds to purchase Mobi-Mats for Crab Meadow Beach, Centerport Beach near the Senior Center Beach House, and Hobart Beach.
Room for Improvement
Terry Farrell Park in South Huntington: Up to $500,000 to reconstruct tennis and basketball courts.
Gold Star Battalion Beach: Up to $125,000 for new playground, amenities
Kew Avenue Park in East Northport: Up to $55,000 for new playground
Asharoken Beach, Fleets Cove Beach. Gold Star Battalion Beach and Quentin Sammis West Neck Beach: Up to $12,500 for mats to aid people with disabilities
Crab Meadow Beach, Centerport Beach near the Senior Center Beach House, and Hobart Beach: $25,000 for mats