A Twentieth Century
History of Munsey Park
(1958 - 1980)
Russell D. Higgins became the eleventh Mayor in March 1958 and was succeeded by William Dailey in 1960. Two years later when Harold E. Johnson took office his term would coincide with one of the last heavy development periods in the village.
The Official Minutes of August 12, 1964 indicate a proposal similar to the earlier Altman offer, in which certain lots would be deeded to the village as a park if it could be rezoned, and increase the number of lots from 22 to 28 - thereby decreasing the lot sizes. Again the Village Board rejected the officer whereupon the tract was purchased by Munsey Park Estates, Inc. and scheduled to be developed in accordance with the earlier Levitt map of 1947. Twenty one homes were built on Blakelock Road , Peale Road and Sully Drive just east of the Lutheran Church property, and were completed in 1965.
In March 1966, J. Roy Price took office and served as Mayor until 1971 when John C. Heim was elected a Munsey Park ’s fifteenth Mayor. The Village Board was still meeting in a small rented room in theMunsey Park Office Building . All the official records - including files, correspondence, financial details, maps, lot surveys, building permits, etc., - had increased tremendously. They were stored in various dispersed locations, sometimes in the homes of village officers. Efficiency was greatly impaired by the lack of a central office requiring extra time in researching reference files. The need for a single facility was not only logical, it was essential.
Accordingly, in May 1972 the Board authorized preliminary drawings for a Village Hall that might be erected on the Sargent Place property purchased in 1950 from Dr. Butman.
A Citizens’ Advisory Committee was appointed to consider possible details of size, construction, architecture and cost. All agreed it must conform to the existing building code that applied to all new homes.
In August 1973 the Village Board accepted the Advisory Committee’s recommendation to proceed with the knowledge that the major portion of its $60,000 cost would be offset by Federal Revenue Sharing Funds, and would not require any increase in taxes. Excavation was started in May 1974 and the building ready for occupancy six months later. An open house dedication was held on December 8, 1974 . Since that date the Munsey Park Village Government has been centralized at 1777 Northern Boulevard . (The street number was selected as the closest to “1776" which, unfortunately was reserved for the south side of the Boulevard.) The Munsey Park Association donated prints of the noted American Artists for whom the village streets are named and these are displayed throughout the Village Hall.
Donald H. Miller became Village Mayor in March 1975 at a time when the United States was focusing on its forthcoming National Bi-Centennial. By early 1976 the spectacular Op Sail Project had revived a spirit of patriotism, especially in the northeast portion of our country. The Munsey Park Association prepared its own salute with a community picnic at Copley Park on July 4, 1976 . In addition to the many events one singularly impressive and successful effort was in the renaissance of Manhasset’s own drum corps. In 1938 Arthur H. Wright had organized the “Sons of the Legion Drum Corps” - in 1976 at a cannon signal, under the leadership of Bob Riley who was one of the original Legion Drums Corps members, the “Cow Bay Drum Corps” proudly accompanied the National Colors onto Copley Park to the steady beat of authentic Revolutionary Era fife and drum music. Two sons of Arthur Wright marched in the contingent, bearing drums from 1938 which had been refurbished for 1976.
In September 1977 the Village Officers received an overseas inquiry from Conrad Kohlheyer, son of former Mayor Kohlheyer, asking if they would consider some sort of commemorative celebration for the 50th Anniversary of Munsey Park. Again officials of the village and of the Munsey Park Civic Association cooperated and cosponsored an anniversary event with another successful village picnic in CopleyPark onJune 17, 1978 .
In March 1979 a precedent, long overdue, was established with the election of Munsey Park ’s seventeenth Mayor, the first woman so elected. Louise V. Reebel, the village’s first distaff Trustee in 1974, now serves as Mayor in this fiftieth anniversary year of the Incorporation of Munsey Park.
In May 1979 the last multi-dwelling area of the village was slated for development. Bonwit Teller had owned the residential lands adjacent to their business site but was unable to obtain commercial rezoning from any Village Board. The property was sold to Munsey Park Estates, a developer, who is now in the process of construction ten new homes on Hunt Lane circle, Park Avenue and Sully Drive ; three have been completed by July 1980 including the model home at 872 Park Avenue .
The prices of these newest homes are in excess of $250,000, compared with the earliest ones at $13,500. In the fifty years since 1930 the assessed valuation of Munsey Park has risen from $1,371,950 to $11,689,720, with approximately 10% of the village lands of the tax rolls (the two churches, the school and the Water District). The first village budget in 1930 was for some $2,500 - the refuse collection item alone in the 1981 budget will cost $144,000!
There remain today only a dozen or so lots, off the 10.2 miles of village roads, on which any houses in addition to the 823 homes completed can be put up. The Official National Census of 1980, when published, will reveal whether the village population officially has risen over the 3,000 mark from the previously recorded 2,985. If it has Munsey Park will, in legal terms, become a “ Second Class Village ” instead of its present “Third Class” designation. The distinction lies mainly in the number of signatures required on nominating petitions of candidates seeking election to office.
Munsey Park since its founding has been governed by dedicated citizens of wisdom and foresight, not one of whom has ever received one cent in salary compensation for their assumption of responsibility and administration. In character, if not by official designation, Munsey Park has always been a First Class Village.
Official Minutes of the Incorporated Village of Munsey Park, 1930-1980 (Munsey Park Village Hall)
Official Map Case Drawers, Village of Munsey Park (Munsey Park Village Hall)
Manhasset Mail, 1927-1971, Microfilm (Manhasset Public Library)
Manhasset Press, 1975-1980, Microfilm (Manhasset Public Library)
Real Estate Map of Nassau County , 1923 (Manhasset Public Library)
Atlas of Long Island , 1873 (Manhasset Public Library)
Munsey Park Subdivisions (of David T. Wile), (Courtesy of Carmel A. Barry Realty, Inc.)
Scrap Book, 1937-38 (of David T. Wile) (Courtesy of Carmel A. Barry Realty, Inc.)
I have not provided detailed references or footnotes in my research, exept for certain direct attributions. Nevertheless, I have not reported or implied any facts which can not be supported by a published account in orne form or another. The total accuracy of these accounts, of course, can be best determined only by those who were a part of the period.