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Letter: A Case For The Bank

As a long time resident of the community I thought I would summarize for consideration what I gleaned from the people attending the meeting at the North Shore Middle School on Wednesday evening, March 13, on the subject of the Sunoco property located on the corner of  Glen Head Road and Glen Cove Avenue in Glen Head.

Initially, the residents affected by the withdrawal of Sunoco from the property, aided by the hard work of the civic associations, rejected purchase of this property by 7-Eleven and ultimately petitioned and won support of the town of Oyster Bay to purchase the property to  build a small (minus a half-acre) park. 

Subsequently, the First National Bank of Long Island (FNBLI ) also expressed an interest in the property at the same purchase price, if the community would entertain a two-story building, nicely landscaped, to allow them to expand their adjacent (across the street)  HQ in Glen Head.

(1) The bank has been in the community for over 60 years (someone mentioned only the drug store was older but that drug store left long ago so either the bank or the Glen Head Hardware store is the oldest business structure.  

(2) The bank now occupies via ownership and / or rental, four or more buildings in the center of town and has long been a vital part of the community.  It ranks as one of the more profitable banks of its size in the United States and it is growing while others are collapsing. 

(3) A park will require tax dollars be spent and you already contributed to those dollars and will contribute in the future to pay for 

Purchase of the land,

Building the park 

Night lighting the park  

Maintaining the park (cut grass / trim the bushes, clean the walks, and empty the trash). 

And the cost to maintain the park will not just be fixed in perpetuity, but will, as taxes always have done, go up!

(4) In addition the Town of Oyster Bay suggested that should they not buy the property. Some portion of the tax dollars set aside (I believe  the  figure was $500,000) could still be allocated to Glen Head for community improvements.

(5) Are there parking and traffic concerns? The bank clearly states that there will only be 16 new additional employees situated in the new building.  Obviously the other 19 employees making up a total of 35 planned occupants, will come from the other over-crowded bank buildings in town.  Accordingly it is a real stretch to state the new bank building will create either a parking problem or a traffic problem given only 16 additional cars.  

And if one who lives here has any observational powers at all, it is clear that the current (very attractively landscaped) bank parking lot next to the existing 2-story structure, has approximately 25 spaces, and rarely has more than eight customer cars there. Moreover, if you go into the parking lot behind the Glen Head Hardware store there are almost always 10 to 15 empty spaces and more often than not, a lot more.  Today, during business hours, the lot was fairly full yet there were 19 empty spaces. 

(6) Going back to taxes.  The bank will not only pick up the current property taxes on the existing property but pay higher taxes than are currently being paid by Sunoco.  Why? For the same reason old properties in our area are taxed less than new properties that have more square footage in use and thus a higher property value.  So it follows that we will not spend existing tax dollars (better spent elsewhere) and at the same time we increase tax revenues (the bank will pay them) by allowing the bank to build, Is this a no brainer?

(7) The bank will continuer to grow.  And if it cannot keep its headquarters consolidated in Glen Head, it will ultimately make sense for them to consolidate elsewhere.  When this occurs we will lose all of the existing bank employees (not just 35), their contribution to the immediate area economy, and we will have a half empty town.  We only need to look around town now to see the already empty store fronts. 

(8) Look around us. Can we afford not to have bank employees, many of which live locally, move away from us?  And what will move into the vacant buildings?  

Do we need another deli, another dry cleaner, drug store, pizzeria, gas station, bakery, hardware store, coffee shop?  If we did we already have empty space for them. Some of us remember the old Bohacks market leaving town and how long it took for that building to be occupied only to have the new tenant, a large advertising agency, move out and the building become vacant again. 

The bank is the one institution that has historically provided stability to our area. If they build a building on the Sunoco property, they will undoubtedly landscape it well.  They have an image to uphold in our town.

(9) The park as an alternative, usage is highly questionable.  Our children should be involved in school clubs, sports, music lessons, Art and Science fairs,  etc. and not hanging around a “pocket park” gathering place.  They are already over socializing on Facebook, and cell phones.  And we have seen a diminishing number of police patrol cars over the last couple of years so we do not need to give them an additional area to patrol .

(10) We already have under utilized school play grounds at the Glen Head grade school, Sea Cliff grade school, Glenwood Landing grade school and the North Shore high school, plus ample green sports areas at the Middle school.  What will a little park add?  A place to walk your dog? Who will take their little children to a tiny busy corner “park” to run free and play unless it is fenced in to prevent a lawsuit should a child run into the street and be hurt. 

A little boy moved here in 1952 (steam engines still went to Oyster Bay), and went to the Glen Head grade school K-8, then to split sessions in an over-crowded Sea Cliff high school, and ultimately three years later, graduated from North Shore High School and on to Hofstra College.  He married a Glen Head girl and they elected to live in Glen Head and have done for more than 60 years.  We see taxes going out of sight and need to make rational, not emotional decisions for the future of people who want to preserve what is left of a nice place to live.

If any of the above is questionable, one should submit a defense of the “park” as a better alternative to the civic associations and have it presented from his or her point of view.  

W.D Wiehn