Three dream projects dedicated in New Hyde Park

Three dream projects dedicated in New Hyde Park
A plaque dedicated to longtime New Hyde Park Trustee Donald Barbieri at the village's Memorial Park. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)


Residents and elected officials gathered at New Hyde Park’s Memorial Park to dedicate three labors of love Sunday. 

The Donald Barbieri Dog Park, bocce ball court and memorial were each dedicated after months of renovations to the Lincoln Avenue park. 

The dog park, named after Barbieri, who died in 2018 after a decades-long fight with multiple sclerosis, features two areas for large and small breeds to play and drink water. Barbieri was a lifelong resident of the village and a trustee for 18 years. He was 58 years old at the time of his death.

Village Mayor Christopher Devane said Barbieri was the “greatest ambassador the village of New Hyde Park has ever known” and shared personal stories before unveiling a plaque bearing his name and featuring a picture of himself and his companion dog Hallie, who facetimed into the ceremony from Michigan. 

“We’re so proud that his legacy will live on and the love that he had for Hallie lives on in this dog park,” Devane said.

Devane thanked the village’s Department of Public Works and Superintendent Igor Sikiric, who committed to building a dog park for the first time after hearing who it was for.

“About a year ago I approached them and said to think about it, to which Igor responded ‘we don’t build dog parks,’” Devane said. “I said we’re gonna give it a try because it’s for Donald Barbieri and these guys jumped in, did the research, investigation and pulled through.”

Devane was joined by the village board, members of Barbieri’s family and elected officials, including North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, Councilman Dennis Walsh, state Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) and Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello. 

“This may sound like hyperbole, but I can tell you that every single person in this village who’s ever come into contact with Donald Barbieri loved Donald Barbieri because that’s the kind of person he was and to see this all come together and make this day possible is amazing,” Devane said. “It’s a labor of love about Donald, his service dog Hallie and the love and devotion those two had for each other.”

Barbieri was first elected to the board in 2000.

He was born and raised in New Hyde Park, attending the New Hyde Park schools and Holy Spirit Church

Barbieri’s political involvement began before he was elected as trustee, with advocacy work for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

He began using a wheelchair shortly before his first term. His first initiative as trustee was to push for the installation of handicapped ramps along Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, the congregation moved slightly to the right and stood in between the tennis courts and playground on Lincoln to dedicate the bocce ball court, which was displaced for the dog park’s construction. Devane said there was initial tension  between him and the village’s bocce club, but that is a thing of the past.

New Hyde Park Bocce Club President John Nicastro said the new court is a dream come true.

“We started with three to four guys every day at the old court and the dream came true with the help of the trustees, the mayor and the community,” Nicastro said. “I’m speechless and I didn’t know that could happen.”

Nicastro acknowledged and thanked contractor and resident John Stylianou of Micron Restoration Inc. for building the court, which was paid for by the club after the village paid for supplies. Nicastro said the club, which now has over 100 members, plays on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays every week and had to play in Mineola over the past year during construction.

“It’s a group effort, a team effort,” Nicastro said. “Everyone is welcome to join and play.”

At 10:30, the village held a rededication ceremony for the memorial at the park, which featured aesthetic renovations as well as structural changes. Along with newly installed gates, the flagpole was centered along with Central Boulevard with the help of Stylianou, who also installed six flags to honor the U.S. military’s branches. Michael McBride, president of the New Hyde Park funeral home, separated the two monuments that were originally placed back-to-back, placing them side-by-side.

Additionally, the plaque that was initially placed on the floor of the memorial has been reinstalled on the left pillar on the gates facing Central Boulevard.

Devane thanked Stylianou and McBride for their work on behalf of the village.

“We want people when they come into Memorial Park through the front entrance to realize the supreme sacrifices that made this park possible and all our days of liberty and happiness possible as well,” Devane said. “This is our home, so let’s treat this appropriately. Let’s enjoy the park for the rest of the season and for years to come.”

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