The proposal to construct an Equinox gym on the corner of East Shore Road and Manhasset Creek Road is being moved by Thomaston village officials on a fast track. Mayor Bob Stern adjourned a public hearing on the matter on March 23 in 10 minutes just as this reporter raised her hand to ask a few questions and shooed everyone out of the village hall saying, "We have to save electricity."
Information for the following article was therefore gleaned from the Full Environmental Assessment Form that was compiled by JAC Planning Corporation, the environmental firm whose principal is Jean Celender, mayor of Great Neck Plaza. The principal for the Equinox project is John Porges who is represented by attorney Peter Mineo.
The parcel, which was rezoned on Feb. 1, 2005, to expand the permitted use to include a sports club, is 2.34 acres and is bordered by the Manhasset Valley Creek, which is a tributary of Manhasset Bay. It is considered to be in a 100-year flood plain with a high water table.
The gym, if approved, would be a three-story building, 43.5 feet high, 90 feet wide and 143 feet in length with a footprint of 12,170 square feet. It would be situated on the southwest portion of the lot, closer to East Shore Road than Bayview Avenue that runs into Manhasset. Adjacent to the building would be a parking lot that is proposed to have 166 spaces. With the combined building and parking lot, there would be impermeable coverage of 84 percent of the land. The building would be steel framed and the exterior, a cream color with clear glass windows. It could legally accommodate 563 people at one time. Obviously, there would be no basement, but a 4-foot deep lap pool is planned for the ground floor.
It is expected that the site would generate 2.5 tons of solid waste per month, which would be removed by a private carter. The Water Pollution Control District has agreed to a sewage hookup and the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District has also signed off on the project. No herbicides or pesticides would be permitted on site. A tidal wetlands permit has been filed with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
Frederick P. Clark Associates did a traffic study last fall and expects that the facility would generate a maximum of 130 trips per hour. The field study done by the firm stated that south of the intersection of East Shore Road and Manhasset Creek Road there is a two-way volume of 1,494 and 2,461 trips during the weekday rush hour in the morning and afternoon respectively. The study recorded 1,109 and 1,967 vehicles in two-way traffic on Manhasset Creek Road, the street in front of the proposed gym, during morning and evening rush hours respectively. The report acknowledges, "Motorists will experience short term delays exiting the proposed access drive." The accident report on East Shore Drive between Manhasset Creek Road and Colonial during the period between Jan. 1, 2000 and July 15, 2004 indicates that 34 accidents were reported. There will be a raised median in the site driveway and signage will restrict all traffic to only allow right turns when entering or exiting the property.
The engineering firm, Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, have recommended that pilings be used to construct the building because of the high water table. Further, they note that there may be settlement issues for the parking lot because of the "compressibility of the organic material" that was evidenced in the soil borings. This area was at one time an undisturbed marshland, but it became a landfill in the 1920s. In the 1930s, it was zoned industrial; in 1948, it was zoned commercial. The Town of North Hempstead used the site for its public works department until the parcel was sold in the 90s.
Nowhere in the report was there any mention of soil testing for contaminants.
The project will not be able to meet the eight inch stormwater storage capacity required by Nassau County's Department of Public Works. Therefore, a waiver will be requested to allow for less water storage.
If approved, the report estimates that it would take nine months to construct the building. It is interesting to note that all the studies and reports were done last year, months before the parcel was rezoned by the Thomaston village trustees and mayor.