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Greater Council Inducts New Officers for 2011-12

Supervisor Jon Kaiman and developer Michael Puntillo attend meeting

At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Greater Council of Manhasset Civic Associations Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman was present to swear in officers elected for the 2011-12 term. Prior to officiating, Kaiman accepted congratulations on his reelection to town supervisor just the day before and made some comments. Running for election is an extraordinary opportunity, Kaiman said, but makes you susceptible to the ups and downs of people’s concerns—it was a learning experience, and frustrating too, in that he believes they have made great strides representing the community yet others, he said, trash and minimize those accomplishments. Newspapers, he continued, print the bad, they don’t focus on the good, so community leaders are needed to point out the good.

Kaiman said he understands when government does not react as quickly as people wish, community leaders on the front line bear the consequences. The building department is a major issue, he said. Several years ago he was criticized for not enforcing code; now he is criticized for enforcing code. By way of example Kaiman said today, if a homeowner has an illegal bathroom and is cited for it when adding a deck, they’re angry. “Now we’re being criticized for doing everything by the book,” he said. At this point Norman Nemec interjected he recently had occasion to deal with both the Town of Hempstead and North Hempstead and felt the Town of North Hempstead “had gotten it together.”

Kaiman said in January they are planning a conference for all those involved in the building profession, including real estate agents, and will facilitate a dialogue on the issues and concerns of those professionals.

Responding to a question on the condition of Plandome Road, Kaiman said the plan is to pave the length of Plandome Road when they complete the four or five blocks under the Safe Routes to School Project.

The supervisor then swore in the officers elected for the 2011-12 term. President Rich Bentley (Bayview), 1stVP: Elizabeth Miller (Shorehaven), Treasurer Bill D’Antonio (Munsey Park). Not present were Secretary Joanne Spencer (Terrace Manor) and 2ndVP John Crewe (Manhasset Park).

Development of Christ Church Property

Next, Michael Puntillo, Jr., Jobco Construction, addressed the members of the Greater Council of Manhasset Civic Associations, on his project to develop the Christ Church property and build a Citibank there. He said he has met with neighboring homeowners who informed them of their concerns and, Puntillo said, those concerns have been incorporated into his plan. Simon Dietz, Puntillo continued, had planted a row of arborvitaes now eight feet tall that provide a “green wall” and Puntillo said he intends to continue that line of arborvitaes that will screen those on Onderdonk Avenue. Puntillo indicated he will bring in other trees as well for additional screening. Citibank will be screened from the church and the cemetery. “We’ve taken great care,” he said, “to surround the property with mature plantings, evergreen plantings, so there will be visual greenery as a buffer between neighbors, even in the winter.

Providing a little background, Puntillo recalled when his residential plan for the property failed he was undecided as to whether or not he would pursue further development. The building was designed as a school in the 1920’s, has narrow hallways with rooms on either side and doesn’t translate well to commercial space. He is putting a Citibank where the thrift store, or blue house near Northern Boulevard, now stands. A bank, he said, has the lowest impact yet is the most economically feasible. Citibank intends to close the existing branch near Macy’s.

Great chunks of stucco fell off the Parish House over the harsh winter of 2011 and time is running out, Puntillo warned, because there is a point of no return, and there is water infiltration between the bricks and that is an expensive restoration.

Rev. David Lowry, pastor of Christ Church, needs space for offices and meeting space for existing programs, so the plan is to subdivide the church gym and Puntillo will restore that wing of the building and the church will retain ownership. The church will have offices on the first floor and the basement and the front section will have a mini community theater.

No one wanted a restaurant or retail concern in that space, Pontillo stressed, and repeated a bank generates the least impact as far as use and hours. As to concerns that the bank is modern, that, Puntillo said, is what they want. Minimalist architecture is the trend and, he said, Citibank will move on to another site if unable to build what they want. Michael Puntillo may too, he said, “This is it,” and hopes the community approves his plan—the only economically feasible plan he has to save the building.

Christ Church is hard pressed to maintain the Parish House.