Great Neck Park District History

The Great Neck Park District, as we know it today, evolved over a long period of time. The actual concept of a designated park district in our area dates back more than eighty years.

In 1916, the State of New York enacted legislation permitting towns to establish park districts as special districts within their borders. Five months later, Roswell Eldridge of Great Neck filed a petition before the Town Board of the Town of North Hempstead to establish a Great Neck Park District. The petition was approved and the first meeting of the new Park District's Board of Commissioners was held on August 31, 1916.

The GNPD set out to acquire land for parks. As its first transaction, it purchased property on Long Island Sound for $40,000 and this Public Bathing Beach became the first park in the District. It was located at the foot of Steamboat Road.

In the early 1920s, land was acquired for Memorial Field (also known as the Athletic Field) and the Village Green. Later on in the 20s, the Village Green was expanded with 31/2 acres bought from the Great Neck School District and an additional 10 acres were acquired to create Allenwood Park.

The Village of Kings Point, in 1938, proposed that the Park District lease Kings Point Park from them - with the condition that the Park District develop and improve the land. Today, Kings Point Park is a year-round, 175-acre recreational facility that provides residents with tennis, baseball, soccer, picnics, barbecues, nature trails, sledding and cross-country skiing.

In 1941, Cutter Mill, Grace Avenue and Wyngate Parks were added to the District. These easily-accessible neighborhood parks provided resting places for adults and playground equipment for active youngsters.

In 1942, the U.S. Government purchased the old Public Bathing Beach site from the GNPD to construct the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The Park District offset that sale to the government by buying property from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., to build the present Steppingstone Park and Marina.

In 1961, the District petitioned the Town of North Hempstead to expand its limits to include the Lakeville, Upland and Westmoreland areas; and in the same year, the Village of Thomaston was added to the District's jurisdiction.

The Parkwood Sports Complex opened in 1964 with an Olympic-size outdoor swimming pool and ice-skating rink that served a membership of more than 2,000 local families. The skating rink was enclosed to make it an all-weather rink in 1970. Parkwood has won a number of gold medals for excellence in recreational development. The Parkwood Indoor Tennis Center is also included in the Complex today.

In 1991, the Park District acquired the four-acre Peninsula Club in Thomaston to protect the last available green space on the peninsula-and in 2001, the Park District acquired a waterfront parcel, formerly part of the George M. Cohan property.

The Great Neck Park District includes twenty-one parks and three commuter parking lots. The operation of the parks is guided by a Park Board - composed of three Commissioners - one of whom is up for re-election every year.

The Superintendent of Parks and a staff of supervisors and attendants are on duty year round to provide recreational programming and park maintenance. To date, the Great Neck Park District includes the Great Neck area north of the Long Island Expressway, with the exception of Great Neck Estates, Saddle Rock, Harbor Hills, University Gardens and Lake Success.

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