By Kristy O’Connell
After nearly 10 years of community efforts to reopen it, the Town of North Hempstead cut the ribbon on Port Washington’s renovated Alvan Petrus Park on Saturday.
“It is exhilarating to see an idea take shape from design plans to the brick and mortar of its reality,” said town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who pledged to restore the park during her first run for supervisor in 2013.
The 1.5-acre property, previously owned and maintained by the North Hempstead Housing Authority, closed in 2008 and was acquired by the town in 2015.
Named for Alvan Petrus, a Port Washington community activist who served as director of the Littig House Community Center, the park is the 52nd in the Town of North Hempstead, Bosworth said.
The $1.4 million renovations included flattening the space’s hilly topography and the clearing away of excessive shrubbery. The park now has a new basketball court, handball court, play fields, trails, a barbecue pit and a gazebo.
The ribbon-cutting Saturday morning was followed by festivities including games, face painting, a barbecue and a community basketball game hosted by coach Ron Rochester of Port Washington Youth Activities.
With food donated by Harbor Deli, the Port Washington Fire and Police departments volunteered to cook hamburgers and hot dogs.
Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio (R-Port Washington) gave special thanks to Wandell Thomas, president of Hands of Change, a Port Washington-based civic association, for her leadership efforts in reviving the park.
Thomas said the association formed in 2007 with the goal of restoring Alvan Petrus Park and is now actively involved in various community events.
Thomas, who lives in an apartment complex just down the road from the park, said her support for the restoration of the park comes from her respect for Petrus and childhood memories of playing at the space when all it had was a basketball court.
Lynette Batts, the executive director of Littig House Community Center, said her goal for the park’s restoration was to ensure “access to safe play” for children in the community.
“The one thing that we have to take away from today’s event is that the new and refurbished Alvan Petrus Park exists because a group of people from various backgrounds with different beliefs put aside all of their differences and made their common goal of restoring Alvan Petrus Park more important than that,” De Giorgio said.