Governor Kathy Hochul held a press conference on June 27 to announce that a multi-year, $47 million project at Hempstead Lake State Park has been completed. “The renewed infrastructure at Hempstead Lake State Park underscores New York’s commitment to climate resilience and demonstrates our focus to protect communities most vulnerable to the increase of extreme weather events,” she said.”This multi-year project expands recreational opportunities, protects our environment and supports climate resiliency, making the surrounding community safer, and I’m proud to celebrate its completion.”
The project has been restoring the Northwest Pond Dam after Superstorm Sandy breached it in 2012. Since then, work on the project has included a new Eagle Avenue parking lot as a trailhead gateway entrance, an observation deck overlooking Northeast Pond, and the removal of invasive species in order to support plant and animal biodiversity. There have also been systems established to collect floating debris from the surrounding neighborhoods and keep it from entering the ponds area.
“For years, Hempstead Lake State Park has been a tremendous venue for our residents. Whether it is fishing, hiking, tennis, pickleball, ball fields, or a day out enjoying all that nature has to offer, Hempstead Lake State Park has checked all the boxes,” said Village of Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray. “The $47 million improvements to the large park will ensure that this unique facility will be available for generations to come. The combined effort of all levels of government to bring this about is what residents deserve from their elected leaders.”
The final phase of the project were upgrades made to the 144-acre Northern ponds complex. This consisted of nearly $17 million in improvements to mitigate flood risk on Mill River, reducing the pollution entering Hewlett Bay and improvements of recreational trails. “The completion of the Hempstead Lake State Park renovations mark a significant step in the transformation of the park, ensuring it remains a vibrant open space for residents and visitors to enjoy,” says State Senator Kevin Thomas (D-Garden City). “I proudly supported these investments and look forward to seeing the positive impacts on the environment and our quality of life.”
The wetland project is one of the largest ever commissioned by New York State Parks, and has led to the construction of eight miles of wetlands that will allow runoff from the Southern State Parkway to slowly filter and purify water before it enters Northeast Pond. “We want everyone to enjoy our New York State Parks, especially those in District 18, the addition of new and better accessible trailways open up the opportunity for all New Yorkers to enjoy the gorgeous trails, lake, and wildlife that Hempstead Lake State Park offers.” says Assemblymember Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead). “As a member of the Committee on People with Disabilities, improving accessibility is incredibly important to me. The additional improvements to the park’s infrastructure will put Hempstead Lake State Park in a position of resilience against climate change as we continue to fight for a cleaner, greener New York by taking care of our incredible state parks.”
Additionally, $4 million have been put into structural improvements of the Hempstead Lake Dam in order to stabilize it. This will improve safety and help maintain water levels while supporting the habitats and ecosystem that surround the park’s bodies of water. “Through its multi-year investment, New York State has safeguarded the natural treasures contained within Hempstead Lake State Park and made them accessible for every resident in the surrounding communities to enjoy.” says Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe (D-Hempstead).
The project also renovated the Hempstead Lake gatehouse and South Pond inlet house which share a newly repaired 800-foot underground pipe. The Hempstead Lake facility has been equipped with new operable sluice gates that allow control over water levels prior to and during storms. New water-level monitoring technology and temperature gauge equipment were also installed at the gatehouse, which provides information on real-time data that will help to better manage the stormwater storage capacity. This will also allow for long-term benchmarks that can be compared to future hydraulics changes.
“The culmination of these vital infrastructure projects will help make Hempstead Lake State Park and the surrounding communities safer and more resilient to future storms, while improving access to outdoor recreation in the community.” says New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “These fortification efforts will help ensure the structural integrity of the dam and continue our exceptional work to improve Hempstead Lake State Park and make it more welcoming to visitors.”
The project has been supported by a $35 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and an additional $12 million in capital funds from the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.”We are thrilled about Gov. Hochul’s announcement regarding completing the $47 million project at Hempstead Lake State Park. This funding has given us a new entrance to the park and brings new life and sustainability to this beloved area.” said Village of Hempstead Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. “ Further, we are pleased with the funding this project allowed for our workforce development.”
The project is a result of the combined efforts of the State Parks, the Office of Resilient Homes and Communities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project is part of the RHC’s $125 million “Living By The Bay” initiative, which aims to increase the resilience of Nassau County communities around South Shore bays and along Mill River.
“Our parks are some of our greatest resources for relaxation, restoration, and connecting with our families. I am happy that the improvement project has been completed; it was worth the wait.” said Town of Hempstead Deputy Supervisor Dorothy Goosby.