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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

There was a time when people knew what they were eating. Frozen meals, fast food chains and ingredients impossible to pronounce were non-existent. Instead, simple ingredients and meals were all made from scratch.

Joann P. Magri, owner of The Divine Olive, is keeping this way of eating alive. Offering hungry customers with a choice in quality foods and ingredients, Magri encourages customers to make their own meals. With shelves stocked full of 18-year-old vinegars straight from Modena, Italy, to extra virgin olive oils infused with various herbs and flavors, the Divine Olive features a variety of organic and vegan products, all 100 percent natural. It even has handmade spaghetti and fresh bread, which perfectly pairs with all of their other products.

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of LI designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.


Sports

It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.

“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.

Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.

 

“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia.  “Flying through the air never gets boring.  At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.” 


Calendar

Board of Education Special Meeting

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Movies on the Green: The Nut Job

Thursday, Aug. 28

Warbirds Legends Weekend

Friday, Aug. 29



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