Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
A 144-acre piece of property, located between Round Swamp Road and Old Country Road in Plainview, has been back in the news lately after a brief absence. Faced with a groundswell of community opposition, New York Islanders owner Charles Wang withdrew his application to rezone the property for an ambitious mixed-use development called “Old Plainview” in 2007, stating that he did not wish to create discord in the community with the controversial plan. Now, in a partnership with The Beechwood Organization, a Jericho-based developer of residential property, the plan may live again- or is it a different plan altogether? With little confirmed information available at this early stage of the project, it’s hard to say.
The Beechwood Organization’s Michael Dubb has stated publicly that he hopes to keep the project “simpler,” meaning that the proposed plan is more likely to be purely residential than the kind of mixed-use development “Old Plainview” was intended to be. Furthermore, Dubb has said that the company intends to meet with community members before the design phase begins in order to avoid the kind of community ire that the original project provoked.
While Beechwood Project Executive Carol Bosco could not comment on the specifics of the plan, stating that the agreement is very new, she did say that Beechwood plans to start meeting with community leaders very soon; within the next few months. However, financial information, such as Wang’s continued involvement in the project or lack thereof (since according to information on The Beechwood Organization’s website, Wang did not sell the property outright, thus the financial nature of the agreement is unclear), has not been revealed at this time. Bosco did say however that she would be happy to update Anton Newspapers regularly as she is able to release more information about the project.
The property was also recently reported to be under consideration by the Shinnecock Indian Nation for the site of a casino. While all of Beechwood’s statements thus far have involved residential projects, Dubb has stated that he will not rule out other development possibilities, which logically include the casino, should the housing plan fall through. The lingering possibility of a casino, an unpopular prospect in many segments of the community, may make Beechwood’s housing project more appealing to residents otherwise opposed to development.
Carol Meschkow, president of the Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, is hopeful that Beechwood’s project will turn out to be a good match for the community, but is not without concerns: “I only hope that any plan takes into consideration the significance of this tract of land with its 100-year-old trees, natural habitat, shrubbery indigenous to the Pine Barrens, and even an occasional red fox. Also, serious contemplation must be taken into consideration for; its prime location next to an untapped tourist gem in the Village Restoration, the cumulative impacts of how dense the surrounding area is, the saturation of our existing infrastructure, anticipated growth on Route 110, and of course addresses our targeted housing needs and offers an office use component,” said Meschkow in a statement. She also noted that she does not consider the Shinnecock Casino as a viable option for the property, since she feels it is out of character for the neighborhood.
The community leader went on to note that a recent report commissioned by the Rauch Foundation and the Long Island Community Foundation documented that open space generates an average of $2.74 billion a year in economic benefits to local governments and taxpayers. “So I ask, when environmental bonds are being approved with overwhelming majorities, why shouldn’t we look to preserve as much of this old farm property as possible,” Meschkow said.
The 144-acre lot is the largest remaining parcel of open space in Nassau County; Charles Wang originally purchased the lot from the county for $23.05 million in 1999.