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Letter: A Challenge for Change

It is so rare that in today’s world, when a community succeeds in overturning a local government initiative, we publicly thank those who were instrumental in the victory.

That is why I personally want to thank Jon Kaiman and the TONH Board for not only acknowledging there was no need for the additional parking, but taking the next step in making good on their campaign pledges to cut back on unnecessary government expansion and wasteful spending.

As in the case of 51 Andrew Street, the community not simply was against the parking lot expansion, but offered a myriad of solutions to the TONH who listened and in turn, complied with the community’s request. It is unfortunate that the original buyer of the property was unable to repurchase the home, but the TONH can hopefully rectify this injustice in the very near future and avoid a potentially embarrassing legal action.

However, I do know of another way to capitalize on this success and feel it is our civic duty to motivate the TONH to continue their community vision, and not merely pat each other on the back for this one small victory.

Instead of simply objecting to imperfect solutions the TONH may suggest, it is we, the citizens, who should provide alternatives and concrete plans to our leaders, that they may pursue in order to better our community as a whole.

The dispute over 51 Andrew Street brought two major issues to light; the parking lot was being misused and spaces were reserved for the wrong purposes. After careful study, MACC, the Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center, has come up with this detailed proposal to solve these unresolved issues.

The parking lot behind the TONH office’s contains 86 parking spaces. The majority of these spaces are necessary for the TONH personnel, however:

(6) spaces are reserved for assistants to the town board

(5) spaces reserved for area councilmen and representatives (2-3 which are vacant on any given day)

(1) space reserved for the town photographer

(3) spaces permanently blocked by snowplow equipment

(4-6) spaces taken by TONH Dept. of Works vehicles

That is 16 to 18 spaces (or 20 percent) of the lot that could be opened up for town residents who need to visit the offices for business.

As discussed during the August town meeting, it makes sense that all Dept. of Works vehicles and unused DPW equipment should be kept at the DPW lots. Mr. Kaiman had noted those plans were under way.

While not questioning the importance of the TONH assistants, having them park in the TONH annex lot to allow residents to use those spaces for TONH appointments and other TONH business seems to make more sense. This in turn would free up more parking spaces on Plandome Road where most residents are forced to park when coming to the town office on business.

Although I am not aware of all of the duties required by the TONH photographer, I respectfully question the need for a permanently reserved space, as over the several different weekly visits the space was always open.

The same can be said for the reserved dignitary spaces, as they were never even half full on the days these studies were taken. It seems foolish to keep these spots unused except for the rare occasion where all representatives attend a TONH event or function.

As mentioned earlier, this letter is not merely to cite issues, but in fact, offer concrete plans that TONH could execute and would better the community.

The above plan did not address the parking lot behind the TONH annex, which is twice the size of the lot discussed above and upon further studies could reveal 20 to 30 misused or under utilized parking spaces.

That is why, MACC, along with several other businesses in town, not only request the existing lot be reconfigured, but actually made smaller. The removal of the last 35 feet of the lot would only give up 12 parking spaces. The remaining land, a lot of approximately 50 x 100 feet, would be rezoned for residential development, and another home would be added to the TONH tax rolls.

Approximate profit for the TONH would be $500,000 to $600,000. Cost to remove existing asphalt and redesign current TONH parking lot, would be zero dollars. The Manhasset Arts and Cultural Center would pay for all asphalt removal and landscaping costs.

And let it be clear that MACC has no interest or designs on the new lot other than to see a new home built in Manhasset, with hopefully children and parents who will find this town as wonderful, and with as much potential, as we do now.

This challenge for change is exactly what Jon Kaiman, Maria-Christina Poons and the TONH Board has been so vocal about in their past and present election campaigns. It would be terrific to see their words in action.

David Paterson

Co-Founder

Manhasset Cultural Center for The Arts