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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 has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.

 

“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”

 

Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health. 

Movie lovers once again have a chance to see first-run films in the theater without having to travel far. Glen Cove Cinemas re-opened last week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free films offered to celebrate the occasion. 

 

“Thanks to all of the support we have here and all of you, Glen Cove is once again open for business,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello at the ceremony, held outside the theater on Thursday, April 10. “We were scheduled to open last week, and there were a few things that weren’t ready...I got a call from the theater operator, Jay Levinson, and he told me that unfortunately, that day Spiderman had the flu,” he joked. “But, Spiderman is well and Glen Cove is well, and we are coming back strong. This is just the beginning. This is going to be so good for Glen Cove and the surrounding communities.”


Sports

 

Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.


The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6.  Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0.  The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on.  Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half.  Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.


Calendar

Eggstravaganza - April 16

Live Music - April 16

Community Easter Egg Hunt - April 19


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