This spring is shaping up to be a season of renewal, rebirth and excitement! Change is in the air all around our Village. I hope you and your families are happy, healthy and able to be maskless. As the weather improves, I hope to see you at our forthcoming events. There are many projects underway which will enhance the enjoyment of our future activities and celebrations.
The Village Hall renaissance continues with a makeover of the hallway and courtroom, which is now named Assembly Hall. We have embraced the great architecture of the building by revealing the original archways and tin ceiling. In addition, the basement has a new floor and paint job and will be further added to with a future Eagle Scout project. A new HVAC system is being installed and flooring in the hallways and stairway is weeks away. Plans are underway to upgrade both the Clerk’s Office and Building Department. On the exterior of the building, new lighting and signage is imminent. The memorial area in front of Village Hall is undergoing a makeover to add landscape lighting and feature the heroes whose names are displayed on the plaques. Their sacrifice on behalf of our Country will never be forgotten.
Initial designs for our new Community Center are done thanks to members of our Architectural Review Board. We are moving forward with actual plans to start the process of building a new facility. This will entail removing the existing building due to the lack of a foundation on a portion of the facility. Half of the tax increase in this year’s budget is dedicated to the new community center. It truly will be a facility that we all have a vested interest in. The future looks bright, especially with our anticipated glass front exterior!
I am delighted to report that our promised 3 million dollar grant for a new Department of Public Works facility has finally arrived. We are moving forward with our plans to commence this long overdue construction. This will entail a complete shutdown of Nuzzi Field due to construction and housing of vehicles and our employees. Discussions have begun on the restoration and makeover of Nuzzi Field at the conclusion of construction of the new DPW facility. I have spoken with members of our Little League and the Nuzzi family to let them know this is a priority for our Board.
Our new pocket park at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Central Boulevard will be dedicated to the New Hyde Park Fire Department and those members who have attained 50 years of service. There will be a bronze firefighter statue and memorial wall placed at that location. Excavation has been completed and construction will begin this month. This park will be unveiled at a future date to celebrate our great Fire Department.
Memorial Park is also currently under construction. A new front entrance on Lincoln Avenue and Central Boulevard is being built. There will be a new sign installed at the entrance. The memorial section makeover of the park is underway as well. The monuments will now be side by side on either side of the American flag. This flagpole will be surrounded by 6 additional flagpoles for each branch of the armed forces. A new walkway is installed to lead visitors to the ballfields without the need to walk through the memorial section. This section is hallowed ground devoted to the heroes who sacrificed their lives and those service members who were injured in service to our country. This area should be treated with dignity, respect and appropriate deference. A new bocce ball court has been constructed and new backboards and rims will be installed on the basketball courts. The crack in the tennis courts will be fixed as soon as we get a warm trend in the weather. A new dry well has been installed on the small ballfield as well as new dugout areas.
The opening of the Donald Barbieri Dog Park is weeks away. We plan on this significant addition being a source of great fun, goodwill and friendship. In that respect, it will exemplify the special man it is named after. We look forward to utilizing the park to have service dogs work with those in our community with physical and mental challenges. In the fall, we will be using a substantial grant from Nassau County, thanks to County Legislators Rich Nicolello and John Giuffre, to have a complete makeover of the children’s playground. This construction will focus on kids of all ages and abilities.
In addition, starting this season we will be checking IDs for all who enter the park. This is an enforcement of the existing policy enacted in 2012. This Board didn’t set this policy but we fully support it. This policy is outlined on every sign at the entrances to the park. I spent last summer observing who used our parks. I noticed that nearly 60% of the people who used the park were not Village residents. Our residents pay the taxes that maintain our parks, therefore Village residents deserve priority in our parks. These same Village residents are the ones paying the increase in taxes that results in the current upgrade to the park. This is also a policy followed by the surrounding Villages, Towns and Counties on Long Island. I believe a 10 year grace period is enough time to finally enforce this common sense policy. We always have and will continue to invite everyone at no cost to all our events, parades, concerts and movies in the park, including its use for Little League, Katie’s Run and other special events. The lack of enforcement of this policy has caused non Village residents to either disregard the signage at the entrances or not read it at all. Unfortunately, it also causes some of these same people to become indignant or feel entitled to use our parks because that is what they have become used to.
I can assure you that the Board is working on a guest policy, but the open door policy is over. Grandparents and grandkids will be addressed in a reasonable way as well. I urge our Village residents to come and get their free ID card for the park, including the dog. Once they arrive with their application and documentation, the ID process literally takes minutes. Village residents will not be granted entry to the park without presenting their physical park ID or having it on their phone. This ID must be shown every time they enter the park regardless of who they are or who they think they are. The dog park will be used exclusively by dogs of our Village residents, except for circumstances when service dogs are invited to work with residents or there is an adoption day with a local shelter.
As for the enforcement of this policy, the first 30 days will be for Village residents only with no guests allowed as we work out the kinks in the system. A positive attitude is a critical piece to successful implementation of this policy. I have heard from many “keyboard warriors” who have ranted about the new enforcement of the existing policy. Almost all of these people are non-Village residents. I have done my best to respond to each of them even though I am not their Mayor. I have been in this community for over 50 years and I have great friends who live outside the Village. This is about fundamental fairness. It is not personal. To those who want to make it personal and go after this Board for enforcing this policy, my only advice to you is that negativity and anger corrode the container it’s carried in.
This Village has so many positive developments going on and this spring will be an exciting time as we rebuild and remake our facilities. I ask you again to get involved and come along for the ride. There is so much to do and we are always open to new ideas and positive suggestions. Ideas can become reality with hard work. If we all pitch in, there is no limit to what we can accomplish!
Mayor, Village of New Hyde Park