Gov. Hochul announces upgrades to Hempstead Lake State Park


Major progress on the improvements to Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead have been made, announced Gov. Kathy Hochul May 13.

The $3.6 million worth of improvements at the park will enhance public accessibility to the park and its namesake lake, the largest body of freshwater in Nassau County.

Recently completed work at the park that is now open to the public includes:

a new ADA compliant fishing pier on Hempstead Lake with light-piercing decks for enhanced fish habitat;

a new 20-foot observation tower that provides panoramic views:

a new elevated walkway that provides ADA access to the tower;

a new ADA compliant kayak launch with a drop-off ramp;

two raised crosswalks with solar flashing stop signs;

new 10-foot wide trails with stone dust optimized for equestrian riding: and

new stairs and handrails providing safe public access to the lake.

The projects are part of a $47 million revitalization of the park, which is supported by a $35 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant and $12 million in Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation capital funds.

It is part of a partnership between State Parks, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, HUD, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Additionally, it is part of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s $125 million Living with the Bay initiative, which aims to increase the resiliency of communities along the Mill River and South Shore bays.

Local officials praised the improvements.

“Hempstead Lake State Park is both a vital environmental resource and important recreation area enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Nassau County residents and visitors each year,” Senator Kevin Thomas said.

“These improvements will ensure that residents can enjoy this beautiful green space for generations to come. I thank New York State Parks for their continued partnership and dedication to preserving our valuable natural resources and enhancing New Yorkers’ quality of life.”

“As a founding member of the first ever People with Disabilities Committee, these improvements are so necessary,” Assemblywoman Taylor Darling said. These enormous improvements will encourage even better adventures for years to come. This is a great accomplishment for all involved.”

But the work is far from finished.

Ongoing improvements to stabilize the only high hazard dam on Long Island-the Hempstead Lake Dam-are underway and the Hempstead Lake gatehouse and South Pond inlet are currently being renovated. These improvements are scheduled to be completed by September 2022.

Trail improvements are also planned.

By December 2022, a 10-foot wide stone dust greenway trail and 8-foot wide stone dust wetland trail are expected to completed.

Miscellaneous other projects to be completed by December 2022 include improvements to the park’s Northern Ponds to mitigate flood risk on the Mill River and reduce pollution entering Hewlett Bay. Work includes a new Eagle Avenue parking lot to serve as a gateway entrance, repairs to the Northwest Pond dam, new drainage culverts, two new steel pedestrian bridges, an observation deck overlooking Northeast Pond, systems to collect floating debris from entering the ponds area from surrounding highly urbanized neighborhoods, removal of invasive species with replanting of native species to support enhanced plant and animal biodiversity, and creation of new wetlands and channels to filter stormwater from the nearby Southern State Parkway.