Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00
The vote, which took place before a packed audience, saw many supporters and some opponents, too. Those opponents have now organized. Last Thursday, July 19, they presented a petition to the town, one with 4,074 signatures, requesting that the issue be put to a public referendum during the next Town of North Hempstead election.
The petition drive was spearheaded by Edward Scott, president of the Albertson Civic Association. Other community leaders involved in the drive included Jim McHugh, New Hyde Park and Garden City Park Civic Association president; Mariana Wohlgemuth, civic leader of Lakeville Estates and Anthony Bulzomi, a representative of residents in Carle Place and Westbury.
A town official said that 3,334 signatures are needed to force a town-wide referendum. Scott said that the 4,074 signatures were collected in 17 days. If the signatures are approved, Scott is hoping for a vote in the November election, rather than having a special election on the matter.
When delivering the petitions, civic association leaders issued the following statement:
“The Town of North Hempstead recently voted to bond $7.5 million to buy and renovate the privately owned Roslyn County Club pool. Their plan calls for a costly membership price structure unlike any other town pool and possible tax hikes leaving some North Hempstead residents to believe they might be funding an otherwise exclusive country club. These petitions demand that the issue be put to a public referendum during the next election.”
A Town of North Hempstead official defended the town’s past record in rebuilding pools under their jurisdiction. He said that in recent years, the town has rebuilt two pools, Manorhaven in Port Washington and Michael J. Tully in New Hyde Park. After the pools were rebuilt, the town official said that membership had doubled. The town official said the town’s outcome estimates on rebuilding pools is “based on experience.”
At the June 19 meeting, the town board voted 5-2 to acquire pool and tennis grounds. The cost of acquiring the 7.2 acres of land is set at $7.5 million. After the vote, the next step, according to a town spokesman, will be the approval of $2 million from the town’s Environmental Legacy Fund, one that will also be used to purchase the property’s open spaces. Voting in the affirmative was Supervisor Jon Kaiman, plus board members Thomas Dwyer, Lee Seeman, Viviana Russell and Anna Kaplan. Voting in opposition were Angelo Ferrara and Dina DeGiorgio.
At the June 19 meeting, Roslyn residents showed up in force, sporting stickers that read “TONH Vote YES,” and both praising the board for the acquisition, while complimenting them on the due diligence studies that went into the process.
Opponents also made their voices heard. An Albertson civic association leader said she did not want to deny the country club area its pool or tennis courts, but that the limited number of members would turn it into a private club for Roslyn.
Prior to the vote, town officials said that the debt service, including principal and interest payment of a 15-year bond and facility operations was estimated at $1,252,650 per year. Both the pool fee and tennis fee structures hope to generate $1,255,000 per year to the town’s coffers. Yearly pool fees are as follows: family: $975 - $1,125, couple: $860 - $960, individual: $740 - $800, senior couple: $600 - $750, seniors, including those who are disabled, on Social Security, volunteer firemen, veterans, and ambulance drivers: $510 - $600 and nanny: $160.