With the main public concerns focusing on the loss of Japanese cherry trees and neighbors’ questioning the positioning of the proposed new Great Neck Park District office on Beach Road, the public meeting on Thursday evening, Dec. 11 was productive. The Town of North Hempstead had already approved the bond to replace the 79-year-old building in order to address current code violations (including not being ADA compliant nor meeting building and fire safety codes) and to eliminate termite infestation, years of decay, flooding and the fact that the offices are overly-cramped.
The proposed building is slated to be a simple one-story structure with an entrance facing the Village Green and Middle Neck Road. Park commissioners and architect Vincent Cangelosi explained that it will be constructed “to blend unobtrusively with its surroundings, including the neighboring residential area.” The building is also to be constructed to be “ecologically green.” Further, they are looking into roof solar panels.
Longtime Park Commissioner Bob Lincoln said that the board has been considering plans for about eight years and now was ready to show the rendering. He said that, though not increased significantly, the newly-proposed building would include a larger board room, a larger waiting area to accommodate residents, enough space so that staff could sit comfortably in new spaces, and, if ever necessary, there would be enough room for a group that could not find space in Great Neck House.
Responding to residents’ concerns that the new building would be pushed forward and interfere with the view for the residential neighbors across Beach Road, architect Cangelosi assured them that the new building would fit in “with a residential feel.” He and Lincoln and Park Board Chair Dan Nachmanoff said that a main concern is “saving history.”
Along those lines, the audience of about 50 learned that both the old cottage in the back and the famed rose garden would remain as is. New parking spots in the rear (about 29) would not intrude on (nor damage nor remove) these valued parts of the history of the area.
And the beautiful old Japanese cherry trees on the property (a significant concern of residents) are slated to be preserved too, as much as possible. Lincoln reaffirmed that these trees are a priority. At this point, they are scheduled to be left in place as much as possible and moved to another spot on the property if remaining in place is not feasible.
Again, Lincoln firmly stated that the new building will “not be obnoxious nor intrusive to the neighborhood.”
At this point, there is no clear budget, as more plans and ideas must be researched.