There is the whiff of something distinctly unpleasant in the fact that an application so obviously unsuitable as that of Sandy Hollow Associates has been allowed to proceed as far as it has. Just whose interests are being served here?
The site plan displayed at Port Washington North's Oct. 13 public hearing was a shocker. It showed the 327 planned units of senior housing packed into the 41-acre parcel like sardines in a tin. The developers cited preservation of open space as one benefit of their proposal. How cynical: The only "open space" is a series of ponds which are needed to drain marshy areas.
I don't think my neighbors along the parcel's eastern boundary ever envisioned two-story garden apartments backing up to their yards or a three-story elevator condo building with 81 units looming over their homes. This is unacceptable.
As several speakers observed at the hearing, traffic generated by this complex would exacerbate unsafe conditions in the immediate area and on Shore Road and Port Washington Boulevard. Overcrowded hospitals would see a dramatic rise in the number of vulnerable elderly people they must serve. Combined with the 700 senior housing units at Morewood, the creation of a voting bloc of seniors, who traditionally oppose school spending, bodes ill. Port Washington is a desirable place to raise families and takes pride in its schools. Strengthening opposition to school improvements would create very unpleasant civic frictions. Is this what we as a community need?
The village board of Port Washington North must approach this property creatively instead of reacting to builders' ideas. I urge them to reject this rezoning bid and appoint a committee to come up with a plan that serves not only Port North but the entire peninsula. Have this committee develop a proposal and hold public hearings on it. If the response seems favorable, place it before the voters of Port Washington North in a referendum.
My own suggestion would be to have the village raise money through a bond issue to purchase the site. Or, though we hardly need new jurisdictions, form a park district that includes a broader area since the whole peninsula would be harmed by inappropriate development. Take a large chunk out of the middle away from any existing homes and lease it to the landscapers and contractors who need a place to store their vehicles and supplies. This would take the pressure off other areas of town where these businesses are in conflict with homeowners. Perhaps Channel Drive could be extended into this area as an access road, keeping heavy equipment off Pleasant, Harbor and Mill Pond Roads. Develop the outer rim as parkland or sell it to the federal government for a cemetery as one speaker suggested Tuesday night. No one can complain that the dead are noisy neighbors.
As a society we need vision, not parochialism. Long Island is rife with districts and municipalities and jurisdictions. It is too easy for public servants to succumb to the narrow view. Port North's elected officials must see the broad picture.
Show leadership here and create a legacy both on the ground and in the spirit of community service.