Recent real estate transactions near the eastern waterfront in Oyster Bay have led to a flurry of questions and speculation. Several properties near the Commander Oil terminal have been sold or are in contract for sale. Other business owners have been approached about selling their property. Conversations with merchants and residents in the area inevitably include "I hear the ferry company is coming in..." or "They say condos."
Rumor often holds a grain of truth, and if so, there is reason for concern. Twelve years ago, a poorly conceived development push resulted in a plan for massive construction on the western waterfront. The proposal, which led to a formation of Friends of the Bay, called for condominiums, a marina, parking, a restaurant and an office tower. It was defeated by a sustained outpouring of public opposition and in its place, an alternative vision emerged. Advanced by the community working in partnership with its elected officials, the new plan protects the environment, preserves community character and helps revitalize Oyster Bay's downtown.
Friends of the Bay is not opposed to development per se; however, we are committed to development that respects the unique qualities of this small hamlet and its pristine bay. It is critical that the mistakes of the past - mistakes that nearly cost us the western waterfront - are not repeated. This means vigilance - from Friends of the Bay and its 3000 members, from residents, civic organizations and businesses. It also means openness and responsiveness from our public servants.
At this point, we need concrete information rather than rumors. Given the level of interest in the eastern waterfront and the heightened real estate activity, now is the time to begin responsible and community-responsive land use planning. Such planning should include a study of the cumulative environmental, historic and economic impacts of different development scenarios. Before any building plans are even considered, we need to know the extent of contamination on the Commander property and nearby land and what steps must be taken for cleanup. Lastly, we need to examine the potential effect on traffic and transportation if large-scale development moves forward.
Friends of the Bay encourages all residents and merchants who care about the bay to keep your ears and eyes open. We in turn will monitor activity along the shoreline and will work to ensure that any proposal put forth benefits the bay and its people. The eastern waterfront belongs not only to outside investors, but also to our community, and it is ours to shape.
Friends of the Bay