New hydration stations arrive at Town of Hempstead parks


Town of Hempstead parks just got a little bit greener.

Schools are out and the summer season is officially here, and last week the Town of Hempstead announced the addition of an eco-friendly water bottle refilling station at the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in South Merrick, helping to reduce the number of plastic bottles discarded at the park while keeping residents hydrated.

Town Supervisor Don Clavin, who was joined by Town Clerk Kate Murray and Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, made the announcement on June 26.

The preserve is among the most popular recreational spaces in the Town of Hempstead. Tucked behind the town’s sanitation facilities off of Merrick Road, what is now a bustling preserve used to be a landfill, before it was transformed into a park in 2000. It boasts walking paths, kayak launches, fishing piers, a herd of Nigerian dwarf goats and more, and also has the highest summit on the South Shore of Long Island, offering those who visit the park panoramic views of Nassau County’s bays, beaches and more.

The park’s “roots” are in recycling, making it the perfect place for the first hydration station to be installed.

“We started seeing a heavy increase in foot traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic, as residents were looking for a safe activity to do outdoors,” Clavin said. “Attendance at the park continues to grow, so we continue to introduce new initiatives, such as this eco-friendly way to keep residents safe and hydrated while combating the rise of single-use plastic bottles discarded at the park.”

The installation of the hydration station was made possible through a Marine Debris grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic discarded in waterways. The grant was awarded to a network of recipients, according to town officials, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean.

In recognition of World Refill Day on June 16, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation shared a post on its Facebook page, stating that in partnership with the New York Department of State, the Town of Hempstead and Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, four water refill stations were purchased for popular parks on Long Island. This was thanks to the regional council, which supplied funding and planning for the project.

“This is a really good, green program,” Clavin said.

In a 2022 International Coastal Clean-Up report, plastic bottles were listed as the second most collected item and plastic bottle caps were listed as the fourth most, town officials said. Since Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve is located next to Merrick Bay, discarded debris can end up in the waterways, which funnel into the ocean.

Two additional hydration stations will be installed at Newbridge Road Park in Bellmore and the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside. The hydration stations, all of which provide filtered water free of charge, will be installed at these parks in the coming months, and will help cut down on marine debris by encouraging park patrons to utilize refillable water bottles over single-use bottles.

“This will be the first three, and we’re hoping to expand it through federal funding, as well as dedicated town funds at parks throughout the Town of Hempstead,” Clavin said. “We’re hoping our friends at the county level and other towns join us.”

Clavin said the town is “dedicated” to the environment and clean waterways.

“That’s one thing I see over and over, every initiative we do here in the town,” he said. “The town residents embrace it because they care.”

Clavin quelled any concerns about the water quality coming out of the hydration stations, stressing that it’s “clean, filtered water.”

“We want you to be comfortable making the investment in the environment,” he said, “so we’re making that investment for you.”

The hydration station at Levy Park is located on the left side of the ranger station, which is just outside of the preserve’s entrance in its parking lot.

For more information on the town’s parks and environmental efforts, visit and see the “Parks & Recreation” tab.