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Town makes progress at Rath Park

Hempstead to vote on park budget plan

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The Town of Hempstead has implemented upgrades to Rath Park throughout the month of April, following a meeting between Franklin Square residents and town officials on March 27. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen promised to deliver upgrades to the park in 2019 as the town earmarks funds for the larger renovations residents say they have wanted for years.

“I have seen the steady decline of our parks over the years,” Gillen said.

“That’s why I’m putting in place projects and renovations to take care of our parks.”

The town has repaved the parking lots along the park’s entrances on Fenworth Boulevard and Benris Avenue. Some dead trees were removed to increase the size of the lots. Joel DiGillio, of the Franklin Square Little League, had also complained to town officials that the park’s lights have been off for nearly two-and-a-half years, which he said is a violation of the town’s protocols. “If you drive by there, it’s pitch black,” DiGillio said. “The lights are supposed to be on all night.”

The darkness invites unwanted activities at Rath Park, which local residents and Nassau County problem-orientated police officers claim have been plagued by squatters and drug activity. But now the lights have been kept on more consistently as Town of Hempstead Deputy Commissioner Raymond Rhoden told Franklin Square residents that he would make sure standard practices were followed at the park.

Renovations to the sports fields have also begun as the two ball fields are revitalized, which includes the addition of a handicap-accessible pathway to the fields. Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman also helped secure $100,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, which will be used to get a new turf field for Rath Park.

Additional renovations include concrete work on the kiddy pool deck and a complete painting overhaul on all the pools. New security cameras were also earmarked for installation this spring.

Gillen’s office plans to present a $300,000 revitalization plan, the allowable amount in the Franklin Square Special Parks District’s 2019 budget, to the town board for approval on May 7. The budget will then be presented to the Franklin Square community in late-May, early-June, to collect feedback on what to prioritize in the renovations plan.