As a 20-plus year resident of Oyster Bay, I’ve seen many things change for the better in our town and few things that took us backward. It’s rare that residents have a chance to vote directly on important issues like preserving our suburban quality of life...with one single yes vote. Oyster Bay Town residents have this opportunity on Tuesday, August 20, when they vote yes to approve the Town’s land sale. There’s so much at stake and it’s time for us to show we really care about our quality of life by voting yes and being heard, loud and clear.
The Birchwood Civic Association (BCA), which has been one of the primary organizations leading the charge in preventing the Taubman Company from building a mega-mall on the former Cerro Wire property on Robbins Lane in Syosset for the past 18 years, is calling on all of its members and other residents in the surrounding area to Vote ‘yes’, on Tuesday August 20.
According to BCA President Roy Chipkin, that’s the day when a public vote will determine if the Town of Oyster Bay can sell surplus land adjacent to the Cerro Wire site and with frontage on the LIE service road to a responsible development group with stellar reputations and strong ties to Long Island. Chipkin indicated that the buyer’s vision is to develop the property with a mixed-use development that meets the community’s needs, like next generation/senior housing or a medical facility – and, with complete input from the residents.
Our democracy demands that elected representatives serve the best interests of the people. But recent actions by the Oyster Bay Town Board have undermined this basic principle. They must be stopped.
On May 21, the Oyster Bay Town Board voted to sell 54-acres of Town property to Oyster Bay Realty LLC – a group headed by Roosevelt Field Mall owner Simon Property Group – through a noncompetitive process that had no public notice or input.
In May, I packed my bags, boarded a plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and was officially Peru-bound. I first landed in Lima, and then continued on to the city of Cusco. From Cusco I was bussed into the Andes Mountains to a village called Incahuasi, where I stayed in a farmhouse for four days. The Incahuasi District is one of six districts of the province Ferrenafe in Peru. The majority of its population of under 15,000 speaks Inkawasi-Kanaris Quechua.
Our accommodations at the farmhouse mirrored the stark realities faced by the Incahuasi people: lack of heat, despite temperatures often dipping into the 30s in the evenings, intermittent electricity, no hot water, no real showers and limited bathroom facilities. This agricultural area was also home to cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and many dogs. Nothing like Woodbury, Long Island.
It was less than shocking to see former comptroller Howard Weitzman criticizing George Maragos in his July 3rd letter, but his arguments were certainly telling. Weitzman, who surrendered the Comptroller’s office in 2009, seeks to blame the current administration for the bond downgrades that were the inevitable result of his fiscally irresponsible 8 year reign that nearly bankrupt this county, had Maragos not stepped in to bring Nassau back from the brink. After taking office, Maragos quickly cut Weitzman’s albatross of a budget by 200 million dollars - a feat so impressive that even our Democratic Governor Cuomo awarded the Republican-run County 5,000,000 for its effective cost cutting initiatives.
Perhaps most telling is Weitzman’s attack on a bond rating downgrade, mere months after his Democratic party blocked efforts to issue bonds that could have effectively addressed the County’s debts and avoided this very result. Weitzman conveniently ignores the fact that those debts resulted from the severely inflated home property values that accrued under his watch, and under his misguided assessment formula. Unlike some politicians, George Maragos spent his first term correcting the problems of the past administration, rather than simply throwing up his hands and blaming his predecessor, and he was able to cut Nassau’s structural deficit to half of what it was when Weitzman left office in 2009.
How often does a municipality get to generate $32.5 million in unanticipated revenue? Not often in today’s tight economic times. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in the Town of Oyster Bay. Town officials have put together a deal with a responsible development firm whereby the town would sell surplus public works property in Syosset for $32.5 million. In return, the firm pledges to support smart alternative development while ensuring community input and embracing environmentally friendly planning.
It all sounds good, yet a greedy developer who has been trying to build a mega-mall in the area for 17 years is trying to generate phony opposition to the plan. Woodbury/Syosset area residents have stood strong and tall against the mega-mall for years. Now it’s’ time for residents from throughout the town to join them.
The sale is the subject of a referendum on Tuesday, Aug. 20. I hope everyone, no matter where they may live, will get out and vote YES for the land sale. Let’s approve the deal while putting the mega-mall plan out of its misery.
We’ve worked hard in the past to protect and preserve our community, and now we need to do it again. On Tuesday Aug. 20, a referendum will be held on the Town of Oyster Bay’s proposed sale of its public works complex on the Long Island Expressway Service Road. This sale would bring in over $32 million to the town while protecting the suburban open space we so dearly cherish.
Unfortunately, the Taubman Company, which has been trying for 17 years to shove a mega-mall down our throats, is once again reaching into their deep pockets and trying to stop the sale. That’s why we need everyone to come out and vote YES, in favor of the sale on Aug. 20.
I have developed a highly detailed action plan for realizing what must be the two most essential goals of the Syosset-Jericho community and its leadership.
Quoting the Spring 2013 issue “Talk of The Town” newsletter:
“…The Department [of Economic Development] oversees the preservation and enhancement of the Town’s open space and its natural, historic and cultural resources.”
By now you have all heard the news of Dr. Hankin’s retirement. Dr. Hankin formally offered her resignation to the board last Tuesday, and it was accepted unanimously. While I can only speculate on the reasons for her leaving, I wish her the best in her retirement. With the new financial challenges facing all districts in New York, this is an opportune time for change and a fresh perspective.
Dr. Hankin’s resignation will take effect October 31st, so we need to have a replacement by November 1st. Speaking to board members in other districts, constituents within the community, varied professionals in the employment field and many other business leaders with broad experience in hiring executives, I have listened to the pros and cons regarding the many possible alternatives we are currently faced with. My personal opinions on the subject are as follows:
This week we are before State Supreme Court in Mineola proving the validity of citizens petitions to hold a referendum on the sale of public land to Oyster Bay Realty LLC, a group headed by the Simon Property Group, owners of the Roosevelt Field Mall. We expect the court to allow the referendum to proceed on August 20, 2013.
The referendum will give Oyster Bay residents the opportunity to vote on whether they want the land sale to go through or not. If the majority of residents vote no, they can stop the sale of the land to Oyster Bay Realty LLC.
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