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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

Local residents were out in full force at Thursday night’s zoning board meeting at Glen Cove City Hall in opposition of a new 7-11 convenience store that is set to be built at the corner of 4th Street and Cedar Swamp Road. According to Stuart Grossman, chairman of the Zoning Board, the meeting was officially supposed to be focused on sign variances for the new store, but residents wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

New York State Assemblyman and Frost Pond Road resident Michael Montesano said that he hopes the board will deny the application for the new 7-11 because of the traffic impact and light pollution the new store will create.

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, many in costume, a new addition to the popular event. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date, Daphne, a 3-month-old long-haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.

“This is a splendid event to celebrate Coe Hall and Planting Fields; everything looks so wonderful in the summer,” said Joyce. “The gardens are glorious and we have a new exhibition to celebrate and it’s just so lovely to be out here in these gardens.”


Sports

The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) is holding its 34th Annual R. Brinkley Smithers Golf Invitational, a charity tournament, on Monday, Sept. 22, at The Creek and Piping Rock Clubs in Locust Valley.

This year, LICADD will have Kristin Thorne, Emmy Award Winning WABC-TV news reporter and personality joining them as Emcee and Auctioneer. The live auction boasts playing opportunities at some of the country’s top golf courses, along with dozens of silent auction and raffle prizes to please the most discriminating of tastes.

All athletes interested in putting their bodies to the ultimate test can hop on over to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay, which will once again be the site of Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24. 

 

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Zumba-Thon Fundraiser

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Live Music

Wednesday, Aug. 27

School Supply Program

Saturday, Aug. 30



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