During the Feb. 26 meeting of the East Norwich Civic Association, President Matthew Meng said the group was officially taking AvalonBay Communities off its agenda as nothing seemed to be happening there. It turned out to be a prophetic move. In a telephone interview on March 6, Mr. Meng, who was a co-founder of the Stop Avalon Coalition, said he received a phone call from LI Business News writer David Winzelberg asking him for a quote for a March 3 story on AvalonBay Communities pulling out of Oyster Bay. It was titled Avalon gives up on Oyster Bay. The article said after six years AvalonBay was leaving Oyster Bay for greener pastures in Huntington. The article states the size of the project was down to 150 units although it was presented to the community as a 400 unit complex.
Judy White of CJ2 Communication Strategies said the AvalonBay Communities property in Oyster Bay is up for sale and brokers are working on it. The price is confidential, she added.
Mr. Whalen, AvalonBay Communities vice president of development, has already successfully built large rental apartment complexes in Suffolk County. In the article Mr. Whalen said the former Hallock Chevrolet dealership might become a supermarket with "five times the traffic."
Mr. Whalen sent the following email to the Enterprise Pilot stating his position on the issue. Mr. Whalen said of the Oyster Bay apartment complex, "This was one of the most dynamic proposals AvalonBay has made on Long Island, the benefits to the community were many: new residents for a struggling downtown that is losing business; redevelop a blighted empty car-dealership with LEED's certified buildings, incorporate affordable housing; multimillion dollar offsite environmental mitigation to help improve water quality in the Bay; and housing options for our young professionals and empty nesters. In today's economic climate AvalonBay has the ability to bring economic stimulus to a community.
"During the course of our efforts there was a very calculated misinformation campaign by members of civic groups and the local media. This misinformation included claims that the sewers would be over capacity, which engineers proved to be false; that the schools would be overrun with children, which is based on no research whatsoever and conflicts with all the recent studies done on Long Island; and that the density was precedent setting at four stories when there are four story structures right down the street.
"Unfortunately, some of these campaigns, appeared to be motivated by political agendas (like Matt Meng of East Norwich who was unsuccessful in his aspirations) or were stuck in the mindset that we can continue to live in the past and not address the needs of the community in the present. What bothers me most is that I attend dozens of conferences, and there is weekly news coverage of Long Island's growing problem of losing our young educated workforce. The future of Long Island is leaving and when proven developers put forth a plan that brings much-needed customers to stressed businesses, provides environmental enhancements and addresses much-needed housing alternatives Long Island has no one to blame but ourselves for our troubled economy and declining work force," concluded the Garden City resident.
The Garden City community recently voted against the AvalonBay Communities proposal to reconfigure the St. Paul's school into upscale apartments.
Mr. Meng's commented on Mr. Whalen's comment about political agendas saying, "I speak for the community and Mr. Whalen speaks for his bottom line."
Mr. Meng said of the AvalonBay Communities proposal, "It was a question of size and placement and our infrastructure that couldn't handle the development. We are still glad we can grow oysters in Oyster Bay. We work hard to protect the environment and our aquaculture industry," said Mr. Meng.
"As for a supermarket, I have no objections. Let the market place decide whether it would be good there. If it did I would expect to see Stop & Shop there because they would be giving the community a larger facility with more room for products and they would be maintaining the same customer base."
At the Feb. 26 meeting, of the East Norwich Civic Association Mr. Meng also reported on the planned development of the Sbarro brothers to create an upscale shopping center on the Rothmann's corner lot owned by Terrance Force of the East Norwich Inn. Mr. Meng said that Anthony Sbarro called to say the deal was squashed; all over; closed up; with this economy as the reason Mr. Meng said, "Mr. Sbarro said they paid a penalty to the seller and lost over $1 million as a result of the proposed project. He said Rothmann's Steak House is OK." Mr. Meng told Mr. Sbarro that the ENCA had been looking forward to having the shopping center in the neighborhood. "This was a development that was going to be a help to the community," he added. The civic association was very pleased that the Sbarros had worked so well with the community before their development went before the town planning department.
Rob Brusca reported on Feb. 26, that the Pine Hollow Country Club has not gotten back to him in regard to his request for information about holding the Join Civics May event there. He said Sean Rainey, Nassau County Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Real Estate, was open to working with the ENCA on using Chelsea Center for the event. Mr. Brusca said they have a tentative date to use the Sagamore Yacht Club for May 29 and need to finalize the decision as to the gala location.