County Executive Edward Mangano announced on Friday the master plan to establish the Motor Parkway Trail. Among the participants were the Alco Black Beast and 12 vintage cars from the Ford Model A Club. Highlights from the media are as follows:
Long Island Press: Article and Video Plans Announced for New Motor Parkway Hiking Trail
By Jim Mancari on June 3rd, 2011
Although historic Motor Parkway was rendered obsolete decades ago, some stretches of the roadway that have survived the passage of time are slated to become a new destination for outdoor enthusiasts on Long Island.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced Friday a plan to establish the Motor Parkway Trail—a series of hiking and biking routes that will trace the path of the original Long Island Motor Parkway.
“This is a great example of teamwork between citizens and government that preserves our rich history here on Long Island,” said Mangano during a news conference at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow—one of the places the parkway passed through. He was joined by a group of local environmentalists, preservationists and recreational groups behind the idea.
The first phase of the $450,000 project will be funded by Environmental Bond Act (EBA) monies, with additional EBA funding under consideration. Officials may later allocate another $500,000 EBA funding for the trail, which is currently in the design phase.
The first phase of the plan includes a 1.25-mile span from Carman Avenue to Stewart Avenue.
The Long Island Motor Parkway, built by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. in 1908, was the nation’s first highway built specifically for automobiles. By 1926, it stretched from Cunningham Park in Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma.
The parkway was the site of the famous Vanderbilt Cup races. Owners of classic automobiles like those used in the race drove their antique cars to the park to support the announcement.
Stealing the show was the 1909 Alco Black Beast racer, which won the 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cups. In last Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, two-time Indy cup champion Emerson Fittipaldi drove the racer in the ceremonial parade lap.
Not only will the Motor Parkway Trail promote healthy living through the County Executive’s Fit Nassau initiative, but it will also serve as healthy choice for hikers and bikers as well as the chance for future generations to understand Long Island’s rich history, the county executive said.
He added: “Over the years, progress has altered the original route, but the main goal of this vision plan is to establish a plan that will preserve the memory of the Long Island Motor Parkway.”
LI Herald: Article Preserving Nassau’s motoring past
County hiking and biking trail to pay homage to Vanderbilt Parkway
By Scott Brinton
You wouldn’t expect to find a turn-of-the-century roadster ominously dubbed the “Black Beast” at a news conference convened by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, but that’s precisely what took center stage at a media event he held at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Friday.
Of course, the news conference was more a celebration of the county’s rich motoring history than it was a meeting of the press, with the Beast and a ring of shiny Ford Model A’s surrounding reporters.
Mangano, a Republican from Bethpage, had come to announce that the county had completed its “vision plan” for a 23-mile-long hiking and biking trail that will eventually wind through central Nassau and pass along the northern edge of Eisenhower Park. The trail will follow part of the old Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, a once private toll road built by wealthy entrepreneur William Vanderbilt Jr. in 1908.
The parkway remained in the Vanderbilt family’s hands until 1938, when the state took possession of it in lieu of back taxes owed and then closed it. The parkway, constructed of concrete, was the first road built in the U.S. exclusively for cars. It stretched for 45 miles from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma and was replaced by the Northern State Parkway.
“Progress very often erases parts of history,” Mangano said. “Projects like this one can ensure that history is not forgotten, however. Establishing this trail will keep a part of Long Island’s history alive for many more generations.”
One of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway’s principal attractions was the annual Vanderbilt Cup, a 300-mile motor race. The Black Beast, a six-cylinder, 100-horsepower gem of a racer built by the American Locomotive Company, won the cup in 1909 and 1910. In its heyday, the car cruised along at 68 miles per hour and was capable of hitting 100 mph on a straightaway. In all, the Beast captured six major racing titles.
Howard Kroplick of East Hills, who now owns the Beast, rumbled around Mangano’s news conference in the vehicle, also known as “Bete Noir.” Kroplick was there to remind residents of the county’s motoring past and to help drum up support for the new Vanderbilt Motor Parkway hiking and biking trail, which is to begin in Lake Success and end in Bethpage.
Kroplick, president of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society, has served on a county committee, known as the Vanderbilt Parkway Trail Working Group, since it formed in 2005. The committee comprises county planners, historic car enthusiasts, hikers and mountain-bikers, and environmentalists. The group, which meets three to four times a year, developed the vision plan for the new trail with environmental bond act monies.
Brian Schneider of Merrick, a hydrogeologist with the county Department of Public Works, said plans are being finalized for a 1.25-mile section of the new trail, to be constructed this year between Carman and Stewart avenues in the Salisbury section of East Meadow. The stretch of trail, which will include an asphalt path down its center, will serve as a “model” for the rest of the proposed motor parkway trail.
Schneider said the county plans to proceed carefully as it constructs the trail over a number of years. “There’s a whole long history of the motor parkway,” Schneider said, “and we intend to stay true to the history of the parkway.”
Schneider also said the trail would take time to construct because funding must first be secured. Nassau has struggled financially in recent years as sales tax receipts have dipped amid the economic downturn. The county does not have the money to build the entire trail now, according to Schneider. He said the county would depend on grants, which are yet to be secured, to finish the project.
Creating the vision plan and constructing the model trail will cost roughly $950,000, according to Mangano. The county executive said the cost will be worth it in the end, as the trail will expand residents’ recreational opportunities and compliment his “Fit Nassau” agenda, which is intended to encourage residents to pursue a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise such as hiking and biking.
When complete, the new trail will connect to already established hiking and biking trails, such as those along the Bethpage and Wantagh parkways, Mangano said. He also said he sees the trail eventually hooking up to a recently constructed bikeway that circles around Nassau’s “hub,” the central section of the county in east Garden City and Uniondale that includes Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which Mangano proposes to rebuild for $400 million. The project will depend on voter approval.
Richard and Lisa Schary, two environmental advocates from North Bellmore, have served on the trail committee since 2005. Richard said he first proposed a system of hiking and biking trails through central Nassau more than a decade ago. “I’m extremely excited” to see plans for the parkway trail moving forward, he said. “It’s been 10 years to get to this point.”
Lisa Schary said, “If we can just get the model [trail] up, we can show the history of Long Island. The most important thing is preserving the past.”
Thanks Model A Ford Club of Long Island for all your support for the preservation of the Long Island Motor Parkway!
Click here for Bruce Adams' slideshow of the press conference.
Links to related posts on VanderbiltCupRaces.com