After J.P. Morgan Jr.’s wife died, he spent most of his life trying to figure out how to commemorate her life. He wrote a letter in 1926 to Glen Cove Mayor William Seaman requesting that a portion of his property at the end of Landing Road be converted into a free public park. Thus, Morgan Park was born. Then Morgan established a park trustee board to protect the park’s legacy.
Now, many years later, Morgan Park is in need of renovations. The City Council was set to vote on Wednesday on whether to award East Coast USA Construction a contract to complete the Morgan Park lower bathhouse renovations. The construction company, which submitted the lower of two bids, estimated the renovation’s cost at $259,000. The other bid, for $644,000, came from Woodstock Construction Group.
At first, Parks and Recreation Director Darcy Belyea thought East Coast USA’s estimate was too low, but then she made some calls. “I called five references for them, and they got glowing reviews,” she said.
The renovation’s cost was approved as part of the capital budget at a previous council meeting.
The lower restrooms in Morgan Park have not been renovated since they were built in 1932, though they have been cleaned, repainted and brought up to sanitary code every year since. “You can only paint so much before something has to be really taken care of and renovated,” Belyea said. “I prioritize what needs to be taken care of and that was definitely the biggest need, for a long time, but we couldn’t get the funding for it.”
The renovations will include heavy epoxy flooring, which is estimated to last about 30 years, graffiti-proof stall dividers and new fixtures, including new sinks.
If additional work needs to be done, the city is prepared to put in a change order to receive more funding. As part of the capital borrowing budget, taxpayers will repay the debt over time. The project will not necessarily lead to a tax increase, however, because the city has a surplus, and the amount it planned to borrow this year was much lower than it usually is.
The restrooms’ exterior will look the same. The brickwork will stay, and minor patchwork may be done on certain areas. The major change will be the roof. The plan is to replace the existing slate tiles with a resin that looks like slate but has a longer lifespan and is easier to maintain.
In keeping with the city’s plan to become a Certified Clean Energy Community, LED lights will be installed. Since the restrooms are not heated or air-conditioned, energy use will be minimal.
Belyea worked with Glen Cove architect James O’Grady, of Archangels, to design the new restrooms without changing the look of the building. “We’re going to try to keep that 1932 Morgan Park look, inside and out,” said Belyea, who will also work with the Morgan Park board of trustees to choose the fixtures that will be added.
“Everything in government takes longer than you’d like it to be,” she said, adding, “It’s not like when you want to do the bathroom over in your home [and] you get a couple estimates.” Government is different, she said. “You have to secure the funding, get the plans made to meet city, state and county code, so it’s just a longer process.”