I have never sent a letter to the editor of any newspaper before, but issues in Port Washington North have troubled me greatly. I have attended almost all of the public meetings over the last 20 years concerning the development of 41 acres in Port North. I am incensed that some people have portrayed local residents in one of two categories: for senior citizen housing or against it.
To date, concerns from local business, residents and public services have helped to amend the original project. Plans for three story walk-up apartments have been shelved; the number of units reduced and the size of the buffer areas increased. The PW Fire Department was a contributing force in these changes because they want the development to be constructed in a safe manner that allows easy access without overtaxing the capabilities of the department. Neighboring industries want to ensure that the project does not have a negative impact on their long-standing businesses that have supported the municipality for many years. Are these groups, both public and private, considered anti-senior?
Before the last public hearing, I introduced myself to Bart Cafarella, a man who has spoken at a few meetings and represents himself as a senior citizen talk show host and advocate. Mr. Cafarella attempts to pigeonhole the constructive criticisms of interested parties of the plan by oversimplifying the issues and stating that critics of the plan are only concerned with NIMBY (not in my backyard) and describes them as anti-senior. I questioned Mr. Cafarella about the pro vs. anti-senior issue that he has helped fuel. I explained that many of us are for senior housing but feel this plan needs a lot of revising. The issue is not black or white but there is a lot of gray area. He chuckled and agreed and said something to the effect of, "That's politics." Someone joined our conversation and asked Mr. Cafarella if it were true that he is a real estate broker who would be selling these units. He said, "Yes." It seems quite obvious to me that Mr. Cafarella has his own agenda that he kept hidden. As a board member and resident of Port North, Mr. Weitzner, has made his opinion well known and has a right to question people at public hearings as do the rest of us. Patience, respect and civility should be shown to all because we know we would like it to be shown to each of us.