At its Feb. 17 meeting, The North Hempstead Town Board voted unanimously to deny the Manhasset Park District's application seeking to acquire property under the New York State Eminent Domain law. The property in question is 7+ acres on the southeast end of Macy's Department Store in Manhasset. The Manhasset Park District Board of Commissioners, in its ongoing quest for more athletic fields for Manhasset children, had attempted to negotiate a settlement with Macy's parent, Federated Department Stores, for some time before turning to condemnation under the law of eminent domain.
According to Councilman Wayne Wink, who represents Manhasset on the North Hempstead Town Board, the merits of the acquisition were not even discussed by the board, which he said based its decision on legal questions. "It was putting the cart before the horse," he said. According to Councilman Wink, New York State Town Law doesn't permit a special district to condemn property. The correct procedure is for the Park District commissioners to request the North Hempstead Town Board to hold a public hearing to consider condemnation proceedings. The town has three options at that point. It can acquire the property on behalf of the district; it can delegate its condemnation authority to the district; it can reject the district's request.
The Town of North Hempstead created a number of special districts in 1920. In 1948 the town passed a series of resolutions authorizing powers to the Park District under New York State law. According to North Hempstead Town Attorney, this was an individual case and a more general application of it would not stand up to legal scrutiny today.