The year 2003 saw the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the continuation of that war. One local resident, Jason Kleinman of Roslyn Heights, serving in the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry, participated in a dramatic rescue mission in the desert country on May 26.
On that date, Kleinman was one of three Army soldiers who rushed to the aid of four other soldiers trapped inside a burning Humvee, after the vehicle ran over an explosive land mine on a main highway between Baghdad and the city's airport. An Iraqi man also threw a bomb at the Humvee and then started shooting at the entire convoy of trucks.
A firefight ensued. Kleinman and two other soldiers left their own vehicle and were able to rescue three servicemen, who were then airlifted to military aid stations in the area for treatment. The incident made national news and Kleinman's superior, Lt. Col. Scott Putter said the Roslyn resident would receive a medal for his courage in combat action.
Of all the villages in the Roslyn area, the Village of East Hills made the biggest news of the year. In early October, East Hills residents voted overwhelmingly to approve a $17 million bond for a new state-of-the-art park, one to be constructed on the site off Harbor Hill Road where the Air National Guard once stood.
The vote capped several years of planning by village officials, who had wanted a park to be built on the 50-acre site ever since the village purchased the land from the Air National Guard in 2000. Due to adverse financial conditions in Nassau County, an earlier bond vote was canceled. The park plan approved by local residents was smaller than what village officials had originally wanted. However, the 'Park at East Hills' will include an outdoor pool, a seniors lounge, basketball courts, ball fields, a hill for snow sledding, bicycle paths, and an amphitheater.
Earlier in the year, the East Hills BOT also passed
an amendment to its building code, one that imposed a temporary moratorium on all residential subdivision reviews and approvals.
In the Village of Roslyn, major news came at the end of the year when the board of trustees approved changes to Bryant Landing, the Forest City Daly housing facility, which is set to be constructed on land on Skillman Street in downtown Roslyn.
The revised Bryant Landing will result in two separate buildings, one of them containing 160 units for independent senior living and 50 units for seniors 55 years and older. The revised plan was greeted with opposition from both the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee and officials with the Village of Roslyn Harbor. The latter claimed that the new plan would result in even more traffic congestion. Meanwhile, Forest City officials said that the decreases in the facility's square footage would, in fact, mean less traffic for downtown Roslyn.
Also in Roslyn, officials with the Bryant Library continued to lobby the public for renovations to the library, one that would add 23,000 sq. ft. to the existing building. Library officials have long claimed that the current building is not large enough to serve its space demands. The entire renovation is estimated to cost $15 million. Library trustees hope to hold a bond referendum on the issue in April, 2004. Finally, the Village of Roslyn's board of trustees has recently created a fundraising committee, one intended to raise monies for repair work on the Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower, the village's most visible architectural landmark.
Meanwhile, in Roslyn Heights, tax revolt was in the air as local civic associations lobbied for relief on a sewer tax. Civic association leaders discovered that homes in Roslyn Heights and East Hills have been paying taxes to operate Sewer District Number Three, a line that doesn't even run through their neighborhoods. Relief came from Albany as State Senator Michael Balboni and Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli helped to pass a bill that offers a tax abatement for homeowners who have been paying the unfair tax.
A more melancholy event in Roslyn Heights was an early November unveiling of "Langone Brothers Avenue,"
in which a stretch of Mineola Avenue was renamed for the two Roslyn Heights natives who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Peter Langone was a member of the New York City Fire Department, while his brother, Thomas, was a member of the city's fire department. Both also were 20-year veterans of the Roslyn Rescue fire department.
In Roslyn Estates, there was some controversy among village residents over a proposed group home that would house six mentally retarded middle-aged women. The home will be constructed by the Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC). Opposition to the home was based on the usual traffic concerns, plus those over the status of live-in caretakers, the legal status of the home, and whether such a multifunctional home was viable for a village like Roslyn Estates.
However, there was never any doubt that such a home could be built in Roslyn Estates, namely since state law mandates that any municipality cannot stop a group home from being operated simply because residents or lawmakers don't want it in their village.
Roslyn Harbor made news for its opposition to what village officials have called an "accident trap" on the busy intersection of Back Road and Glen Cove Road. Gerson Strassberg, the village's mayor, said that there have been four to five accidents on average per month at the intersection. Village officials have lobbied state lawmakers to put up a sign instructing motorists that they can only make a left turn onto Back Road when the green arrow traffic light is on.
Roslyn Harbor is also home to the newly dedicated Milliard Prisant Memorial Garden, one named for a longtime leader in renovation projects in the Roslyn area.
On a sadder note, two prominent Roslynites who died during the past year were Helen Glannon and Charles Bell. Ms. Glannon, who died in February, worked at the Bryant Library from 1946 to 1980. As adult services librarian, Ms. Glannon initiated various book clubs, had books delivered to senior citizens; in addition, she organized the library's Grist Mill Collection of local history materials. In 1981, a year after her retirement, the library renamed its community room, the Helen Glannon Meeting Room.
Charles Bell, known simply as Bob to friends and neighbors, passed away in October. In the 1950s, Bell served first as a trustee, then as mayor of the Village of Roslyn. A longtime fixture in the fast-paced world of New York media, Bell became involved in politics by spearheading local opposition to a development plan for Silver Lake. Bell and his allies fought the plan by forming the Clock Tower Party. The development plan failed and Bell was soon elected to public office.
A World War II veteran, Bell served as a director and producer at several New York City television stations before serving from 1969 to 1980 as general manager of WLIW, Channel 21 on Long Island. A native of Philadelphia, Bell and family moved to Roslyn in 1953.