The following brief news items are updates on some of the pending hot and controversial issues that have stirred many Port residents into action and inspired related articles in past issues of this newspaper.
According to Port Washington Library Director Nancy Curtin, as well as Library Board of Trustees President Fred Kramer, the library has still heard nothing from the New York State Department of Education (NYSDE). As the result of protests and demands from residents who want to protect the Mackey-Baker house/former Baker Funeral Home from demolition, the NYSDE had put a Temporary Stop Action (TSA) on the project so that it could re-evaluate its original approval of the library's plan to tear down the Baker building and adjacent structures to make room for a paved parking lot.
Regardless of the status of the Baker property, the library board of trustees still plans to hold a bond issue vote on October 6. The bond would finance the renovation and expansion of the present library building.
August 8 is the deadline for Shields Hardware to submit revised plans to the Village of Baxter Estates for a new hardware store to be built on the lower Main Street vacant lot across from its current "temporary" store. If acceptable plans aren't presented by then, the village will void all extended building-related permits previously granted. The original Shields store, that was on that lot, burned down on Jan. 30.
Kevin Shields optimistically reported on the phase that follows the plans and said that Shields "hopes to be building by the end of the summer."
The land being cleared and leveled on North Main Street, just north of the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club (MBYC) tennis courts, is for additional MBYC tennis courts. The town granted approval several weeks ago and construction has started. The land used to be part of a boat yard owned by MBYC. When asked for details about the new courts, the MBYC manager said that he had no comment, that the club "prefers not to publicize it."
Larry Blake reported that he'd have more to report about the five new Schreiber tennis courts in a couple of weeks. He nevertheless said that at least four of them will probably open within those next few weeks. They are being constructed on land behind the school district administration building and will replace the Schreiber courts east of the high school. The new courts will have the same usage rules and hours as the old.
According to Town of North Hempstead Attorney Howard Miller, the status of the town board's decision to reinstate two-way traffic on Longview Road is on hold. The reason is that New York State has not yet approved the town's application to make this change. As a result, the Longview residents' law suit against the town for voting for the change, is also on hold. If the state denies the town's application, the residents would have no reason to sue. Outside legal counsel, Norman Dachs of Shayne Dachs Stanisci Corker & Sauer of Mineola, has been retained by the town to handle the case, should it be revived.
According to Wayne Wink of County Legislator Barbara Johnson's office, ground probably won't be broken for straightening and improving Harbor Road until the end of the year.
The current delay is due to the schedule for court proceedings that are part of the process for the county to condemn and acquire private land for the project. To straighten the road, at least a few inches has to be taken from every private land owner along the present road, including land from the former activist Robert Johnson, as well as from businessmen like Augie D'Alonzo. August 20 is the court date for condemnation papers to be filed by the county attorney's office. Title to the land can transfer to the county after that, even if the owners don't agree to the sale or the price, due to a government's right of eminent domain. (The owners can fight the price for years after the land has been acquired. The court determines what is a fair market value price based on professional appraisals.) The county will then solicit bids from contractors and wait the requisite 45 days for bid submissions. Six weeks after that the chosen contractor can probably get started.
According to both developer Michael Daly and Town Attorney Howard Miller, the fate of Mr. Daly's proposal for an assisted living residence (ALR) on lower Main Street, is currently in the hands of US District Judge Joanna Seybert. Oral arguments for his appeal on this case are set for October. Miller reported that Mr. Daly has already failed in two courts to get an injunction that would prevent the Town of North Hempstead's Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) from preventing him from building the proposed ALR. Both the US District Court judge and the US Magistrate judge have ruled that Mr. Daly did not successfully prove that the BZA had injured him with its decision. If the US District judge rules again on appeal that Daly is not entitled to an injunction, his next step would be to appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Daly could also try to sue the BZA for discrimination against the elderly handicapped.
Daly claims that he still wants to build the ALR on lower Main Street. He said he has even informally offered to construct fewer units and to reduce the number of stories to two so that his building wouldn't be any taller - or obstruct any more views - than existing buildings on the site. Daly chastised the town for spending taxpayer money to pay for an outside legal firm to fight him even after he's offered to compromise. Howard Miller said that the town had not received any formal redesign proposals and that he therefore had no comment on same.