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Letter: Proposal to Develop Franklin Avenue Greenspace

[Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the Board of Trustees of the Village of Garden City.] 

Having grown up on Third Street, and having lived on Fourth Street and Cedar Place for nearly all of my adult life, one always notices the dramatic transformation of the neighborhood as you leave Hempstead and drive into Garden City. One goes from the fully developed Franklin Street in Hempstead to the beautiful greenery of Garden City.  Now, it appears there is an initiative on the Planning Commission to change that.  

The residents of the Central Section of Garden City in the vicinity of Franklin Avenue have been both blindsided and horrified to learn of the efforts of Mr. William A. Bellmer to convert the Green Space along Franklin Avenue into developed housing; as if that is not bad enough, the proposal also includes putting buildings right over road as well. My neighbors are appalled at this initiative to take away the green space where our children play, where we take our evening strolls, and is so much a part of our way of life. The Greenspace on the east side of Franklin is already zoned for development and we are certain to lose it someday; that makes it essential that the Green space on the west side of Franklin be protected as park land, as it will be all we have left. A similar proposal was made in the 1970s, and my parents and the neighbors mobilized to defeat it at all costs at that time, as we will again now.

I am a lifelong resident of Garden City, a graduate of St. Anne’s and St. Paul’s, a former president of the Central Property Association, former Chairman of the Joint Conference Committee, and consistently volunteer hundreds of man-hours every year to various efforts in our beloved village.

Mr. Bellmer’s letter of Feb. 13 to the board of trustees argues that the green space where our children play should be developed because we can get additional property tax revenue, of $50,000 a year, or just over $2 a person. His letter also misrepresents that there is a benefit to the residents of Cedar Place, because we would not be subject to through traffic on Franklin Avenue. His statement is ridiculous. We residents of Cedar Place, who oppose this proposal to a person, do not have through traffic from Franklin, since we are not a through street, which is why people buy houses on this block to begin with. Further would lose access to Franklin Avenue by car, and even worse, we would lose our pedestrian access to Franklin Avenue. Most of the residents of these streets belong to St. Joseph’s Church, and our young children attend St. Joseph’s School for Religion Class, Boy Scouts, or as full-time students.     

Most controversial proposals have both upside and downside; this one has only downside. It should be rejected, and the green space between Third and Fourth Street should be made parkland, so that it does not come up again. It would also be a great place for an arboretum.   

I also respectfully suggest that going forward, we put people on our various commissions who have a vision for Garden City that is to preserve and protect all our green space, not to develop it. 

Joe Mohen