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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

It was a country flavor at Sea Cliff Beach on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 14 as the alternative/country group Antigone Rising played in front of hundreds of local residents underneath the fading sunlight. The concert, which was originally slated for Saturday but rescheduled due to inclement weather, went off without 

a hitch as the ladies played a lot of their popular songs from different records. 

A drive down Prospect Avenue now reveals a hidden gem across from Tappan Beach, thanks to a project that took a decade and a half to come to fruition, and only eight months to complete. Scudder’s Pond, once hidden from the road behind tall phragmites, is not only visible, but much cleaner.

Plus, it's a significant step toward purifying the water in Hempstead Harbor. 

 

The $2.6 million project that involved dredging the pond for the first time in 30 years, installing a storm basin device and removing invasive non-native plants, all to combat problems from one of the largest sources of harbor contamination.


Sports

Glen Cove Junior Soccer got off on the right foot with its annual parade through the city ending at City Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13. The parade had boys and girls from kindergarten to 10th grade march along with coaches and parents in their colorful uniforms. At the parade terminus, Glen Cove elected officials cheered the children on as they sat down on the field lines to hear the opening comments.

Hundreds of supporters turned out on Monday, Sept. 8 to golf, socialize with friends and dine beach-side at the 25th anniversary of SCO Family 

 of Services’ Howard F. Treiber Memorial Golf Open, SCO’s major fall fundraiser benefiting the 60,000 children, teens, adults and families served each year. The event began with brunch and shotgun tee offs at Meadow Brook Club in Jericho and The Creek Club in Locust Valley and concluded with dinner beach-side at The Creek. 


Calendar

Live Music - September 24

Whiskey Tasting - September 25

Play Bingo - September 26


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