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Editorial: A Different Waterfront Presentation

If the city is indeed moving along with the waterfront development, perhaps it would bring Glen Covers together on the issue if we had a different presentation. This paper wasn’t trying to suggest anyone was remiss by asking for a presentation last week and still isn’t. But after the Planning Board’s hearing Tuesday, it appears that many of the people against the waterfront development simply need whatever information the city and developers are working with that shows how this project will work.   

The bulk of last week’s questions and comments at the hearing seemed not really for the Planning Board, who are apparently only reviewing how the developers will offset or eliminate negative environmental impacts.

Residents who simply don’t want the project philosophically or aesthetically seem to be outnumbered and out of luck. The city has started building the ferry terminal – the public half of the public / private partnership which is based on RXR Glen Isle’s plans. The Planning Board is ready to vote YES or NO on RXR Glen Isle’s project.

As far as residents who are concerned about the details of that plan, let’s start by recognizing that the RXR Glen Isle folks are running a business. They are not trying to hurt anyone. If their vision succeeds, it is hard to see how it would be bad for Glen Cove.

But, the point is, the developers are trying to create a flexible plan that works for them. They should, as good business people doing a deal. On the other end of that business deal, is Glen Cove. The city and its offshoot organizations, the IDA / CDA are bringing in a big project that will be a drain on the city. So there is give and take. The project will cost the city resources. So it has to bring in money to cover these extra costs. Glen Isle’s vision actually guarantees a profit for this city in this respect if all goes right. So, the next question for Glen Cove, could be: what is the worst that can happen to Glen Cove if something goes wrong?

It was assured at the hearing that the IDA / CDA will negotiate so that developers can’t walk away from the project. But it was also mentioned by the developers that they are changing their plan based on “what people will finance.” Does that mean for the next steps - the condos, the green area, the hotel and shops, etc. - they will only be built if they are “what people will finance” at that time?

Some are asking: if financiers don’t want to help create the rest of the project after the rentals are in, what happens? It seems that the amount of taxes assessed to the development will not be the same as what the plan projects now, but new residents (renters) will be using city resources and services. And the city has a ferry project under way for $16.9 million based on a certain level of construction at the waterfront site. What would the impact on that project be if the full waterfront vision didn’t come to pass?

Obviously the city and the developers don’t plan on this scenario or they wouldn’t have gone to so much trouble for so many years. So one would think that if they simply show how this is a secure deal for Glen Cove, it would allay most fears and eliminate much of what was causing negative feedback at the hearing. Show with numbers and a timeline: how rentals lead to condos and how that leads to hotels and shops and how and when that all assures ferry use.

It is easy to see how it is the right thing for most people’s hopes and dreams, but how does it work for the city and how is the city protected so that the project – and its positive impact on the city - don’t change once under way?