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Residents Voice Concerns Over Mall Plan

On August 20, residents from all the communities in the Town of Oyster Bay will have a voice in the future of Syosset and Jericho.

A town-wide voter referendum will decide whether a 54-acre plot of town-owned land right by the Long Island Expressway can be sold to a consortium of three developers — Simon Property Group, Castagna Properties and the Albanese Organization — which has indicated it plans a mixed-use facility, including apartments and shops.

Another developer, Taubman Centers, currently owns a smaller, neighboring property and has been battling the town for 18 years to get a special permit to build a mall there. Taubman has indicated it wants to bid on the town-owned site, which would allow it to expand its plans, and sued to force this referendum.  

Richard Turkisher, director of the Jericho’s Birchwood Civic Association, a community group at the forefront of the fight to prevent the mall, has plenty of reasons to vote “yes.” Among his concerns: pollution, traffic—there’s a school nearby—and the strain on town resources. He questions what need this plan would fill.

“A shopping mall is very unnecessary in our community,” Turkisher says. “There are too many malls as it is. Just 15 minutes from here is the Walt Whitman Mall and Roosevelt Field.” Planning experts note that when new malls open, they often cannibalize other malls as well as the downtowns, pulling merchants from one site to another rather than bringing in new businesses.

Stewart Lieman, who works in the real estate business, says he doesn’t see how a mall will make money in the current economy. If it fails, the remaining structure would become a blight.

“I see a lot of local stores and businesses with ‘for sale’ signs on them in the area,” he said. “I don’t get how they’ll make money here.” He’s concerned a mall will drag down property values.

Mall proponents say the venue will generate jobs and tax revenue. That’s certainly true. Robin Weissbratten, a long-time Nassau County resident who lives near the two sites and agrees that Long Island is “overmalled,” counters that while such retail jobs might be good for part-time retirees or second incomes, they don’t pay enough to meet the local cost of living. “We’d be better off with new affordable senior housing or houses that are affordable for young adults on Long Island,” she said.

And while a mall would generate tax revenue, John Mullins, director of the Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, has been studying mall development since the 1980s and says the residential component of mixed-use makes it probably a better bet overall.

“[A mall vs mixed-use] might be a wash in terms of tax revenue, but you’d probably gain because of the investment power of people who live there,” he explains. “The value is greater with residential, and you clearly benefit on traffic. Plus, reinvestment in the property is not so dependent on sales of the stores.”

Barbara Krieger, another Birchwood association director who lives near the site, says “There are much better uses for that property.” Krieger would prefer to see a computer company incubator, which would offer resources for businesses, or something comparable. Mullins also says that large vacant properties near the highway--rare in well-developed areas--are prime locations for office parks or similar high-end business facilities, which would be more likely to bring jobs paying $100,000 a year. He advises: “Don’t take your best spots and kill the golden goose.”

News

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, 1,100 military veterans and Gold Star families in Farmingdale will have to wait for their tax break until next year.

 

The Farmingdale School District is among several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. Earlier this year, school board trustees uanimously voted to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year. 

In the aftermath of a fatal carbon monoxide leak at Legal Seafoods in Huntington, the Village of Farmingdale passed new legislation requiring all residential and commercial properties carry a carbon monoxide detector. 

 

“The whole idea behind this is public safety,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.

 

On April 7, Farmingdale Trustees unanimously voted to amend village code as a proactive measure to prevent future harm from carbon monoxide poisioning.   


Sports

The Farmingdale Devils  U10 Travel Baseball team defeated the West Islip Gold team 11-6 to win the Bayport Bash baseball tournament last weekend. The Devils swept both games on Saturday to advance to the championship game. In the championship The Devils struck for four runs in the first inning. Nick Napolitano and Nick Disanti  started it off with singles and were driven home by Gavin Weinstock’s 200 foot blast off the left field wall. Timmy Purack and Matt Brandimarte followed with run scoring singles and the Devils were on their way to their first title of 2014. Nicholas Napolitano pitched three solid inning for the win. The Devils will now compete in the Half Hollow Invitational Spring Tournament. 

 

— Submitted by The Farmingdale Devils

The Dalers Boys Varsity Lacrosse team (3-2) are putting their best foot forward, after losing two games this season.  

 

On March 25, the Dalers took their home turf to face the Lynbrook Owls. During the game, the Dalers Tom McPartland and Chris Brown each scored two goals, while goalies Matt Deluca and Scott dePalmer racked up a total of 11 saves. Despite the valiant effort, the Dalers lost to Lynbrook High School 11-7. 

 

The Dalers are currently 3-2 this season. Their next game will be held on April 17 at Long Beach. 


Calendar

Women's Club of Farmingdale - April 17

Maundy Thursday - April 17

Good Friday - April 18


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com