Jul 12 2011

Garden City Life: “Village Drives Effort to Preserve Long Island Motor Parkway”

This article by Melissa Argueta appeared in the July 1, 2011 issue of Garden City Life. Photo Credit: The Long Island Motor Parkway as seen in 1908 from the Carman Avenue Bridge in East Meadow. Photo courtesy of Garden City Archives. Photo from the Howard Kroplick Collection.

Village Drives Effort to Preserve Long Island Motor Parkway

Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 01 July 2011

Mayor Appoints Committee to Restore Land, Study Site’s Historical Significance


If you are heading south on Clinton Road, you may see walkers disappear up a small hill in search of a dirt trail that was once part of the Long Island Motor Parkway. Despite the 100-year-old concrete slabs and rotting wooden side guardrails being the only markers of its previous existence, village trustees are spearheading efforts to preserve the portion of the land that is located within the Village of Garden City.

On the heels of County Executive Edward Mangano’s announcement regarding the completion and release of a vision plan that will mark the original route of the Long Island Motor Parkway, Garden City’s Village Board has also taken action to aid in parkway restoration efforts.

At the most recent board meeting, Mayor Donald Brudie announced the appointment of a new three-person committee to possibly restore the site and study the historical significance to the village. Trustee Brian Daughney was named the committee chairperson, and Trustees Dennis Donnelly and Laurence Quinn were named members.

In 1908, William K. Vanderbilt Jr. first began construction on the Long Island Motor Parkway and the first nine-mile stretch ran from Westbury to Bethpage. In 1926, the parkway’s beginnings as a 100-foot-wide right-of-way winding across parts of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties was completed and reached out as far as Ronkonkoma. It is considered to be the nation’s first roadway built for exclusive use by automobiles and was the site where the Vanderbilt Cup races took place.

According to Mangano, the trail, which will link many communities together through hiking and biking routes, will trace the original route of the famed Long Island Motor Parkway. The establishment of the new Motor Parkway trail will also help promote the county executive’s Fit Nassau initiative, which is aimed at making Nassau County the healthiest county in the nation by promoting healthy lifestyles, which includes daily exercise.

“This cooperation between community leaders, county representatives and New York State has resulted in the preservation of one of Long Island’s most storied pieces of history,” said County Executive Mangano. “Over many years they worked together to establish this trail to the benefit of all Long Islanders,” he added.

According to county officials, the project will be funded in Nassau County through Environmental Bond Act monies. Additionally, the funding level is $450,000, which includes the formulation of the vision plan, design plans for the demonstration piece and construction of the demonstration piece. An additional allocation of EBA funds for construction is under consideration in the amount of $500,000.

The first phase of the project will be a section of the trail between Carman and Stewart avenues and will span about 1.25 miles. The project is currently in the design phase, according to county officials.

In order to join the preservation efforts, Village Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh officially requested that a village board committee be appointed in order to study the area’s historical significance, and the potential establishment of a historical display. “We have a good part of that in our property. I think that there is a good opportunity here for us to get out ahead of perhaps, the county or with the county as part of our history,” Cavanaugh said.

Garden City resident and historical expert Cyril Smith applauded the village’s decision to move forward with the project. “As most of you know, it started with some walking tours a number of years ago. Some of the staff here, some of the trustees and some people in the audience have had the opportunity to take these tours. I offer them again because I feel this resource, if it can be properly reviewed by this committee, would gain by having additional suggestions on what can be done with it,” Smith said.

Smith said people who have walked the property, have seen the opportunities that this asset can be improved upon. “There are opportunities here, gentlemen, that I think the village can shine.” Smith told residents to keep Sept. 23 open and announced that he is working with the post office to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first airmail flight in Garden City, although details are still not confirmed.

Deputy Mayor John Watras commented that he, along with Trustees Andrew Cavanaugh and Nicholas Episcopia, received a tour of the land area and was “absolutely amazed” by what was there. “At some point in the future, I guess we are going to want to restore it or have something similar to the [Garden City] bird sanctuary,” Watras said.

Cavanaugh agreed, “I would hope that eventually that’s where we would get, that some small portion of that could be restored to its appearance as it existed. And incredibly… there are still evidences as it existed, including some of the road bends and some of the side rails.”

Trustee Episcopia maintained that the committee should find out where the village’s property ends and where the county’s begins. “I think that might be helpful because it is a very interesting piece of property. There’s a pond in there. There’s all sort of things you never would’ve dreamed would be in there,” Episcopia said.


Garden City Chamber of Commerce Director Althea Robinson offered to help the Committee with the project since the Chamber has a lot of information, as well as photos of the parkway. “We have in the conference room in the toll lodge a mini photographic museum, which really verifies and states the whole history of the parkway, the significance of the 12 toll lodges that were there and access to the parkway,” Robinson said. “The Garden City toll lodge is the last vestige of the parkway that was authentically restored,” she added.

Links to related posts on VanderbiltCupRaces.com:

Archives: Motor Parkway-Garden City

Nassau County Website: “Vision Plan for Motor Parkway Trail”

Archives: Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation


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