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'Tis the Season to Love our Town

I love my town and my neighborhood no matter what names it is called.

Two days before Thanksgiving my neighbors and I were informed during a public hearing that our neighborhood in Port Washington was a "slum."  Seriously. That word was used during a public hearing by a Board Member of the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington (RFMBPW).  It was her attempt, I imagine, to justify their proposed redevelopment of 5 blocks of Main Street into new 3-story, 45' high, mixed-use (apartments above retail/parking/commercial) block-sized buildings. So now I find myself writing about this proposal which comes up for a Town of North Hempstead Board vote this Tuesday, December 11 instead of preparing for the holidays, or blogging about gardening, or even more tellingly, concentrating on my stressful day job. This proposal is probably one of the best kept secrets in town, in part because it has been advertised as a beautification or visioning effort and not called what it is, which is a rezoning and redevelopment proposal. But because I love my town and my neighborhood, no matter what names it is called, I have been spending my time doing what the town should be doing and getting the word out about the public hearing.

Those of us who question the densification of Main Street have been called another name, naysayers, by the RFMBPW (do you sense a trend?). However let's be clear - we do not oppose the beautification of Main Street. Please, full steam ahead on that part of the proposal. I have suggested that a business mix analysis be done in order to target businesses that would succeed on our Main Street. The BID should lead the beautification and business attraction as a combined effort. And please add a residential community member as a liaison to ensure ongoing dialogue. Rezoning is not necessary for beautification or business attraction. If it were, then what about the other blocks that are not part of the proposed overlay district? Are we not beautifying and assisting those blocks? Will those be rezoned later? I continue to ask as I have for over a year - what are the real goals of the proposal? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Jonathan...I think we also need to be absolutely clear about what is actually being proposed with rezoning. The proposal is not at all about the simple interior renovation of existing buildings, or merely making improvements to the facades. This proposal is about taking down existing buildings, the consolidation of properties and constructing NEW buildings in its place. The new buildings may or may not adhere to the unenforceable, and not required, design guidelines being heralded as the savior of design aesthetics for Main Street. In order to achieve the parking requirements, to achieve all the required setbacks, and to comply to ADA accessibility laws, buildings will have to come down and properties will have to be consolidated. A single property on Main Street is not large enough to add an elevator and to comply to parking and setback requirements. There is just not enough square footage available. And the economies do not make sense. This is not even getting into that somehow, somewhere the Owner's have to provide garbage storage and removal in the back of the property. How are single, middle-of-the-block property owners who wish to redevelop supposed to achieve all of this? The eventual result will be large, 3-story buildings that occupy multiple lots if not entire blocks. This is not about renovation...it is all about 3-STORY, NEWLY CONSTRUCTED BUILDINGS that would replace the one and two story buildings currently lining most of Main Street.
jonathan winant December 10, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Local resident: I am well aware of what is being proposed (not to sound nasty). This is why I am so very angry at the way meetings and discussions on the topic have progressed. What I do notunderstand is how did buildings such as the ones just east of the train station get permits (stannards bldg four stories high) or the building which houses the Dolphin Book Shop on Lowwer Main St. get approval? I guess the zoning rules changed otherwise three and four story mixed use bldgs. would still be allowed to be built. Biggest question is why did the zoning rules change? Another concern is what will happen when consgtruction begins? Who will be displaced and how would it effect traffic and the functioning of other Main Street businesses? Yes the newly renovated store fronts of some (a small number) businesses is very welcomed but it is a small step. I truly believe that the rezoning plan if adopted will be the down fall of the Main Street area and possibly lower proerty values for neighboring homes. What needed to be done was entice the vacant stores do repairs so they might find a renter.
R Miller December 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Jonathan the location of Dolphin bookstore is in the village of Baxter estates where the TONH has no jurisdiction.
NH Taxed December 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM
please please Stop referring to our area as North Hempstead , the name has become synonymous with corruption, deception , ineptness , thanks to Jon Kaiman and his Board of the dumb and the spineless

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