Amidst all of the overdevelopment on the Great Neck peninsula, with subdivision after subdivsion, one variance after another, a new ''ingenious'' idea has surfaced --- air rights. Having gobbled up almost every piece of vacant land, having subdivided the tiniest of parcels, builders are now looking to build ''up.'' They want to build up over open space by purchasing ''air rights'' over municipal parking lots and building apartment houses in the sky. So far, our community leaders have wisely rejected such proposals.
The first we heard of this brilliant scheme to add to the congestion in our community was at a Great Neck Plaza board of trustees meeting a month or so ago. The developer asked to purchase air rights over the village's municipal parking lots (beginning with the lot across from Plaza Village Hall on Gussack Plaza) in exchange for providing municipal parking at ground level and designating a certain percentage of the apartments as ''affordable housing.''
The Plaza board showed some interest until they realized the very small percentage of affordable apartments and the fact that ''affordable'' might not really be all that affordable. Then, fortunately for all of us, trustee Joel Liebowitz pulled in the reins, questioning the wisdom of adding even more apartments to an area that has not yet seen the impact of new multiple dwellings yet to be completed. And then everyone began to talk about the strain on services and the loss of open space. In the end, the answer was ''no,'' Great Neck Plaza does not want to become a city.
Then, just last week, the same developer asked the Great Neck Park District if the commissioners would be interested in double-decking their commuter parking lots, at no cost to the park district, as long as the developer could build an apartment house above. Swiftly, and firmly, the park commissioners voted down that idea. Commissioner William Dobkin stressed that they would not even ''entertain'' any such plan that would further congest our community.
Bravo to the park district and the Plaza!
But the battle may not be over. There are other municipal parking lots in this town, owned by other villages. We urge any municipality confronted with a request to purchase air rights to follow the lead set by Great Neck Plaza and the Great Neck Park District. Say no, firmly and swiftly. No options! No deals!
We do not need any more apartment buildings. We do not even know if our schools and our public services could handle the strain of masses of new residents. What we do need is some open space, some green space, some open air to breathe.
''Air rights'' must not be for sale in Great Neck!
Wendy K. Kreitzman