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Letter: Once In A Lifetime Opportunity For TONH

Legal, financial and Parks Department teams of the Town of North Hempstead are trying to finalize a purchase of what was known as the Roslyn Country Club.  If successful, this plan will reopen the facility by next season as Roslyn Park.

Due to a remarkable perfect storm of legal, financial and interest rate developments, this project can be completed at a fraction of its unencumbered value and financed at what are likely record-low interest rates that will not recur in our lifetimes. Home values in Roslyn Country Club and surrounding areas should increase immediately while other areas of the Town of North Hempstead should be positively affected, too. Detractors of the plan, many of whom seem to be political opponents of the administration, have relied on numerous distortions to weave cynical objections to the project.

Robust public debate is a hallmark of healthy democratic process. It challenges supporters of a viewpoint and unquestionably produces better results.But when parties to a debate are more committed to winning than seeking truth, the dialogue becomes a proverbial race to the bottom.  The value of debate then approaches nil as it generates all heat and no light. Instead of a tool to create better solutions, the debate becomes the problem. I fear the debate over the proposed Roslyn Park started in these doldrums, became animated during a political campaign of an insurgent candidate lacking momentum and searching for an issue—and headed straight downhill from there.  

Opponents of the Roslyn Park appear to have organized and sought to mislead the public through claims in anonymous flyers, blog posts and campaign speeches that I won’t perpetuate by repeating.  However, the following are key points that some opponents have bent over backwards to obscure:

• The formerly exclusive facility will now be available to all town residents on identical terms. Confusingly, some of the most vocal critics, who enthusiastically, but erroneously, call the Roslyn Park plan exclusionary, themselves have exclusive access to special district pool facilities, such as the Clinton G. Martin pool in New Hyde Park—which receives money through lease payments that taxes of every town resident support. To this day these critics continue to describe the Roslyn Park plan as a “country club”—which they know to be inaccurate—to suggest that it is exclusionary.  It isn’t.

• Seasonal fees (estimated by the town at $700-$1,000) would be well below the cost of a private facility, but with comparable amenities. Thousands of town residents who could not otherwise afford access will be able to enjoy this premium facility.

• Unlike nearly every other town facility, the proposed Roslyn Park is expected by officials to pay for itself. The town has repeatedly assured residents that no plan will be adopted if it is not designed and expected to be self-funding in any given year. The ability to achieve this striking result is due to an unlikely perfect storm of economic and financial events.

This perfect storm facilitates sharply reduced payments by the town.  Because restrictions on the land now limit its use to pool, tennis and catering, the owner is willing to sell for less than ten cents on the dollar compared to peak value of surrounding property. The town’s debt rating is the best in its history, and interest rates are at near-record lows. Consequently, the reduced purchase price and cost of renovations can be paid using bonds that represent payments by the town so low that this opportunity will not likely be seen again in our lifetimes. Now is an ideal time for our town to invest in itself and in resident families.  

This is truly a once in a lifetime chance for our town and for the Roslyn Country Club community. We wholeheartedly support this timely, well-considered plan.  We urge our elected representatives to authorize the plan.

Todd and Linda Zarin