Myron Blumenfeld helped to make Port beautiful

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Myron Blumenfeld helped to make Port beautiful
Myron Blumenfeld, a co-founder of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, who passed away on July 1 (Courtesy of Port Washington Public Library).

Myron Blumenfeld, co-founder of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington and longtime environmental advocate, died earlier this month. He was 90.

He was inspiring, he was a bold thinker, and he was a strong advocate for parks, trails, open space, trees and the general green lifestyle,” said Mindy Germain, the executive director for Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, which recently rebranded as Residents Forward. “Myron spoke for the environment.”

In a statement released after his death, Residents Forward called Blumenfeld “the Lorax of Port Washington,” a reference to the environmentally-minded Dr. Suess character.

“Who will speak for the trees? Residents will,” Blumenfeld used to say, according to the statement.

Blumenfeld was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, one of five children. He met his first wife Gloria Turok at Tilden High School, from which he graduated from in 1945.

From there, he went on to Syracuse University and New York University. Following his graduation from NYU in 1950, he joined Bloomingdale’s as an assistant.

He retired after 36 successful years with the company, with his final position being vice president of cosmetics.

But it was what Blumenfeld did outside of work that made him known around the Port peninsula.

In 1968, he gathered around a kitchen table with Eric Pick, Renee Greenspan, and Betty Forquer to create a group that would plant trees, flowers, and bushes in prominent areas of Port.

The group became Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, which continues the founders’ mission to this day. In addition to plantings, Blumenfeld and the group pushed for North Hempstead to ban large, garish outdoor signage on storefronts.

But Blumenfeld’s efforts soon expanded beyond beautification.

When North Hempstead Town Supervisor Michael J. Tully proposed a solid waste landfill on Hempstead Harbor in the 1970s, Blumenfeld and Residents challenged North Hempstead and got the state Department of Environmental Conservation involved, which led to requirements for landfill liners and regular testing of nearby air and water quality.

Regular testing eventually led to the Environmental Protection Agency closing all Long Island landfills.

Blumenfeld helped to organize resistance to another town proposal for a mass burn garbage incinerator in Sands Point. He pushed North Hempstead’s Building Department to stop allowing restaurants to be built on sites containing toxic waste.

He also helped to establish a number of parks in both Port and around Long Island.

He pushed for a trail that would stretch around the Port peninsula from Manhasset Bay to Hempstead Harbor.

He convinced North Hempstead Town Supervisor May Newburger to purchase two acres adjacent to Landmark on Main Street, which would become Blumenfeld Family Park (Myron wanted to honor his entire family with the park’s name, rather than just himself).

“We worked together a lot on Blumenfeld Family Park,” Germain said. “It was Myron’s idea to put water play in the park for kids to be able to cool off in the summer.”

Germain said that Blumenfeld was always involved in the planning of parks and suggested ways they could be improved.

“I enjoyed walking the park with him each year, and he would point out what needed to be fixed or how it could be made better,” she said. “[That park] was really his baby. And he loved to go sit on the bench and just watch the activity.”

Blumenfeld also served as Long Island Parks commissioner, as a trustee and volunteer for the Port Washington Public Library and as a member of the Sierra Club. He also created a scholarship for English as a second language students at Paul D. Schreiber High School, named for his deceased son Josh.

Myron was a true environmental advocate and had a tremendous impact on projects throughout our Town of North Hempstead community, especially in Port Washington,” said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth in a statement. 

Myron’s wife Gloria passed away in 1987.

He married Ruth Yanowitz of Port Washington a year later. She died in 2010.

Blumenfeld is survived by his sister Gail; his daughters, Riva and Eve; and his four grandchildren. Donations in Blumenfeld’s honor can be made to Residents Forward, the Port Washington Public Library or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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