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Town to vote on F.S. park upgrades

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Although Franklin Square residents came out in droves to voice their opinions over the needed renovations to Rath Park during a meeting with Town of Hempstead officials in March, only 10 residents came out to the follow up meeting on June 12.

Franklin Square Civic Association Board Member Katherine Tarascio was one of the 10 people at the meeting. Tarascio found that while Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and her team were eager to learn about what residents wanted for their parks, the voices weren’t there to better help narrow down what the Franklin Square Special Parks District’s $300,000 budget should be spent on.

“They want to hear from us,” Tarascio said. “Call, email and reach out to the town to let them know what you want, because whatever opinions they hear will be the ones they implement.”

Outside of the $300,000 budget, the town has purchased additional security cameras to be installed at Rath Park in late July, early August. The town has also 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. Lighting fixtures were repaired, renovations were completed along the ball fields to include handicap-accessible pathways and concrete work was completed on the kiddy pool deck.

The town is also working to improve Cornwell Pocket Park with new safety surfacing for the children’s playground, new street lighting and a new southern entry way. Officials are hoping to promote event opportunities at Cornwell Pocket Park after it was revealed that not many residents knew Cornwell was a part of the Franklin Square Special Parks District.

“We want to address the steady decline of our parks over the years,” Gillen said. “We sent out a survey to get your input, and we want you to get the most bang for your buck.”

The survey, which had nearly 500 responses, revealed that only four percent of respondents use Cornwell Pocket Park, and an overwhelming 88 percent primarily use Rath Park. According to the survey, the majority of residents want to see spray pads and new equipment at the playground, further improvements to the pool and upgrades to the sports fields. The spray pads and new equipment each would take up the full $300,000 budget.

The town board will hold a vote on July 2 to allocate the $300,000 to the Franklin Square Special Parks District. Residents can voice their opinions at the meeting at 10:30 a.m., at 1 Washington Street, in Hempstead, or contact Gillen and Councilman Bruce Blakeman’s office before then.