SEA CLIFF RESIDENT WITH AN APPRECIATION OF THE PAST AND A VISION FOR THE FUTURE LEADS FIGHT TO SAVE THE GLENWOOD LANDING POWER PLANT
For the last several months, Karin Barnaby, a long time resident of Sea Cliff and former North Shore School Board Trustee, has focused much of her time and energy on addressing the question, “What’s next for the Glenwood Power Plant?”
Concerned that by demolishing the iconic structure at the corner of Glenwood Road and Shore Road in Glenwood Landing, “National Grid aims merely to reduce its own tax-assessment — remediate the site to minimum standards, fence off and cover it with asphalt and/or gravel and leave it undeveloped and inaccessible for public use;” and, knowing the utility will retain so much “ugly, power-generating and transmission infrastructure there—turbines, fuel tanks, transmission towers and hi-tension power lines—to make it inhospitable for most alternative uses, thus leaving a permanent hole in the community’s tax base,” Barnaby has sought to protect the building from the wrecking ball so that it can be “repurposed as a commercial, tax-paying enterprise as quickly as possible to help alleviate the devastating financial impact of the utility’s decommissioning."
"At this time, I would like to request that you, Supervisor Kaiman, TONH Council members and National Grid representatives, together with Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County and Albany leaders, convene a public forum about saving and repurposing the GWL plant, as a first step toward the regeneration and revitalization of a visitor-and-user-friendly Glenwood Landing-Hempstead Harbor waterfront." Read complete statement . . .
Barnaby’s vision for the National Grid property is shaped by her understanding of both the missteps that some communities have made when they have failed to appreciate the significance and beauty of historical structures, only to realize it when it is too late; and, by how other communities have taken former industrial sites and repurposed them for both the public good and corporate profits.
At the July “meet and greet” with Assemblyman Edward Ra at the Gold Coast Library, Barnaby had in her hand an April article from the New York Times on the proposals to rebuild Penn Station and return it to its former glory 50 years after the original architectural gem had been demolished. She does not want to see history repeating itself.
The Glenwood Landing Plant, she insists, quoting architectural historian Richard Gachot, is a “very important vestige of early 20th century industrial architecture, a symbol of power harnessed for mass consumption.” Such plants, Barnaby says, “were designed as civic monuments with the best architectural features of their day.”
Barnaby’s desire to protect a structure of historical significance is equal to what she sees as an opportunity to repurpose the building in a way that would bring enormous benefits to the local community. She is quick to cite examples of forward looking approaches taken with former industrial sites in other communities.
In Yonkers, an abandoned power plant, coincidentally named "Glenwood,” decommissioned decades ago, will be repurposed as a convention center and hotel. Senator Schumer has pledged millions of dollars in federal tax credits for the $250 million project that will create an estimated 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent ones.
While flexible in her thinking in what can be done with the Glenwood Landing structure, Barnaby sees the Chelsea Piers project in Stamford, Connecticut as the perfect model for what can be done here. There, the property that housed the former Clairol Headquarters and hair-color production facility was purchased by and leased by Chelsea Piers of Manhattan. After spending $50,000,000 on renovations, Chelsea Piers converted the site, which sits in the midst of a residential area, into a state of the art sports and recreation center that has an indoor turf field 100 X 60 yards, two full-size basketball courts, an Olympic size swimming pool, two full-size hockey rinks, seven tennis courts, 12 squash courts and a gymnastics center. .
“The Glenwood Landing plant,” she says, “offers an ideal waterfront building and location for repurposing as a commercial, tax-paying facility. A Chelsea Piers-like sports, recreation and arts facility, for example, would result in a win-win for all concerned – for tax-payers, for National Grid, for Chelsea Piers, for political and civic leaders, and, last but most important: for area team-sports families and enthusiasts, whose demand for playing fields and sports facilities such as this has long exceeded supply.”
Barnaby’s ideas do not end with the structure itself. She also
sees the plant de-commissioning as an opportunity to develop the Hempstead Harbor waterfront from Tappen’s Beach in Glenwood to Bar Beach on the other side of Hempstead Harbor in Port Washington. “To succeed as a viable commercial undertaking . . . a [Chelsea Piers Stamford – style recreational facility] would necessitate optimal access. . . . A western link from Glenwood Road across to Bar Beach and beyond, would offer total access from all directions.” She envisions “a short bridge, attractively designed – in keeping with the GWL brick arches perhaps, or evoking the stunning sail-shaped cable bridges of France – with multiple lanes for accommodating strollers, skaters, bicycle riders and anglers, as well as motorists.”
The benefits to the community would be tremendous, she maintains. “Imagine a newly revitalized and accessible stretch of natural waterfront, plus a world class sports and recreation facility. . . . Imagine a waterfront hiking, jogging, skating and bicycle path, leading all the way from Sea Cliff to Port Washington, linking Sea Cliff’s tree-lined promenade, Tappen Beach, Tappen Pool and Marina, the North Shore CC, a “Chelsea Piers LI” facility, the Swan Club and Engineers C.C., and continuing across an imaginatively-designed ‘recreational bridge’ to Bar Beach, to Hempstead Harbor Beach, to Harbor Links – creating Hempstead Harbor’s very own recreational “Highline.”
With this vision in mind, Barnaby has for the past several months written letters to public officials, the local press and as spoken at public
meetings pressing state and town officials to do all that it takes to delay the demolition of the power plant and to pursue repurposing. She has even written Steven Holliday, CEO of National Grid, encouraging him to reconsider National Grid’s plans for the GWL plant. Barnaby's
MISSTEPS AND OPPORTUNITIES FROM PENN STATION TO CHELSEA PIERS
Old Pennsylvania Station in New York City
What were they thinking? This architectural treasure was demolished in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden and its basement which currently serves as the transportation hub we know as Penn Station.
Glenwood Power Station, Yonkers, NY
Decommissioned in 1968, the shell of the abandoned Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers will be repurposed as a hotel and convention center. The $250,000,000 project will create 2,000 construction jobs, and when completed the center will employ 1000 people.
The High Line - New York City
Built during the 1930's the elevated freight train tracks were last used in 1980. When New York City announced its intention to take down the structure in the late 1990's, opponents of the demolition organized themselves into the group Friends of the High Line. Working with city government, the organization helped create an elevated city park, the first section of which opened to the public in the spring of 2009.
CHELSEA PIERS, STAMFORD, CT
Beginning construction in the spring of 2011, Chelsea Piers converted the former Clairol World Headquarters and hair color manufacturing facility into a world class recreation center which includes, among other things, an olympic size swimming pool, a 100 yard long turf field, and two full-size hockey rinks.
facebook page “Save the Glenwood Landing Power Plant" has rapidly grown to nearly 400 friends and has gathered 560 signatures on a petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-glenwood-landing-power-plant-from-demolition) calling on Town of North Hempstead officials and National Grid to delay the demolition until repurposing is adequately considered.
Last Thursday, Barnaby showed up at the North Hempstead Town Council meeting to make her case. Unfortunately, she was shut out because of an overflow crowd there to stop a spot rezoning that would allow the building of a public works facility next door to townhouses – almost directly across the harbor from the
GWL power plant. “Don’t Build it - not in our Backyard!” was the cry of the evening. Perhaps at the next town
council meeting an equally large crowd from this side of the Harbor will be there to back up Barnaby. But this time, the cry will be “Don’t destroy it – not in our Backyard!” (story by T. Madden)
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