Revamping Rath Park

Local civic group members, Scouts work to improve Franklin Square site


Several local residents, including members of civic associations, sports organizations and a local Girl Scout troop, have recently targeted a common goal: revamping Franklin Square’s Rath Park.

The park, a Town of Hempstead property, has long been a hot topic for residents of Franklin Square and surrounding communities, who say it is in need of pool, field and court improvements.

Cousins Brittany Chajkewicz of West Hempstead and Stephanie Smith of Franklin Square, both 16, have been working for several months on a Rath Park revitalization project. The girls, who are members of Girl Scout Troop 1422, focused on the park for their Gold Project — Girl Scouting’s highest award, for which a Scout works with others to achieve a common goal — because they grew up less than a mile away and have loved the park since they were young.

“We both go to the park every summer, so we want it to look nice,” Chajkewicz said, “Once the pool is open, I’m there almost every weekend.” She added that the park lacks the maintenance that other local parks have, including Garden City Park, on Nassau Boulevard.

Chajkewicz and Smith recently drafted a plan to paint a weathered, paint-chipped recreational shack in the park and a lighthouse mural at the pool, repave the volleyball court and install a net, and put up a “Welcome to Rath Park” sign near the pool. The girls met with Joseph Bentivegna, commissioner of the Town of Hempstead Department of Parks and Recreation, in November, and presented him a proposal outlining their ideas, including photos of dilapidated areas.

About a month ago, the girls met with Bentivegna again, along with Denise Micheletti, Rath Park’s manager, and according to Chajkewicz’s mother, Lillian, their plan was recently approved by the parks department. It has agreed to help the girls pay for and install the sign, and provide them with paint for the mural, among other improvements included in the plan. The girls will be working on the project under Micheletti’s supervision, and are hoping to begin by March.

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