Transforming Great Neck into a captivating destination begins with acknowledging and embracing the qualities that have historically made it such a desirable place to visit, live, and shop.
The rich tapestry of Great Neck’s past unveils remarkable residences, picturesque tree-lined streets, vibrant parks, a bustling downtown, polo grounds, car racing, and a thriving arts scene. These elements, among many others, have contributed to Great Neck’s allure.
However, as time has progressed, the landscape has evolved. Many grand estates have vanished, the charm of tree-lined streets has either been redeveloped or aged, and local shopping has transformed with the rise of alternative options like sprawling malls, online shopping, and discounted retailers.
Yet, amidst these changes, we still have a narrow window of opportunity to salvage two of Great Neck’s historical treasures: the Saddle Rock Grist Mill, nestled off Bayview Avenue, across from the main library, and the Stepping Stones Lighthouse, in the waters near The Village of Kings Point and Steppingstone Park.
Both structures are now in dire need of restoration, entailing costs in the millions of dollars. The responsibility for these endeavors lies with governmental agencies, with the Grist Mill falling under Nassau County’s purview and the lighthouse being stewarded by the Town of North Hempstead.
To preserve the legacy of Great Neck and revitalize its allure, we must act. Securing substantial private funding is paramount, and the torch of responsibility for rebuilding these landmarks should be passed to private nonprofit organizations.
Promising examples of successful restoration efforts can be found in Roslyn, with the Roslyn Grist Mill, and in Huntington, led by the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society.
If others have achieved such feats, then surely Great Neck can surpass their achievements.
Are the people of Great Neck genuinely committed to resurrecting their community as a sought-after destination once again?
This question should ignite our passion and drive. The Great Neck Historical Society and the Town of North Hempstead initiated an agreement whereby the Historical Society would serve as the conduit for private donations and funding, as well as raise awareness about the restoration of the Stepping Stones Lighthouse.
Regrettably, over the course of nearly a decade, the Historical Society managed to raise only a fraction of the four million dollars required for the restoration, amounting to a meager sum of approximately $100,000.
Blaming partisan politics for the lack of progress is merely a diversionary tactic employed by the current Town Supervisor Jen DeSena, and the Republican minority on the Town Council, who have demonstrated minimal interest and concern for this significant undertaking.
While the Historical Society unjustly disparages the entire Town Board, it is evident that little, if anything, has been accomplished under Supervisor DeSena’s leadership.
Additionally, no steps have been taken to preserve the Saddle Rock Grist Mill, which falls under the ownership of Nassau County.
Has the Great Neck Historical Society relinquished its pursuit of assistance from the Republican county executive, congressman, or county legislator, all of whom should naturally exhibit an interest in addressing the needs of the community they claim to represent and serve?
When one lives in a glass house, one needs to be careful of the stones they throw.
Monumental governmental projects necessitate time, patience, and an unwavering commitment. Rome was not built in a day.
Let us rally together, united in our determination to resurrect the glory of Great Neck, safeguarding its historical treasures for future generations to cherish.