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Residents Voice Concerns Over Mall Plan

On August 20, residents from all the communities in the Town of Oyster Bay will have a voice in the future of Syosset and Jericho.

A town-wide voter referendum will decide whether a 54-acre plot of town-owned land right by the Long Island Expressway can be sold to a consortium of three developers — Simon Property Group, Castagna Properties and the Albanese Organization — which has indicated it plans a mixed-use facility, including apartments and shops.

Another developer, Taubman Centers, currently owns a smaller, neighboring property and has been battling the town for 18 years to get a special permit to build a mall there. Taubman has indicated it wants to bid on the town-owned site, which would allow it to expand its plans, and sued to force this referendum.  

Richard Turkisher, director of the Jericho’s Birchwood Civic Association, a community group at the forefront of the fight to prevent the mall, has plenty of reasons to vote “yes.” Among his concerns: pollution, traffic—there’s a school nearby—and the strain on town resources. He questions what need this plan would fill.

“A shopping mall is very unnecessary in our community,” Turkisher says. “There are too many malls as it is. Just 15 minutes from here is the Walt Whitman Mall and Roosevelt Field.” Planning experts note that when new malls open, they often cannibalize other malls as well as the downtowns, pulling merchants from one site to another rather than bringing in new businesses.

Stewart Lieman, who works in the real estate business, says he doesn’t see how a mall will make money in the current economy. If it fails, the remaining structure would become a blight.

“I see a lot of local stores and businesses with ‘for sale’ signs on them in the area,” he said. “I don’t get how they’ll make money here.” He’s concerned a mall will drag down property values.

Mall proponents say the venue will generate jobs and tax revenue. That’s certainly true. Robin Weissbratten, a long-time Nassau County resident who lives near the two sites and agrees that Long Island is “overmalled,” counters that while such retail jobs might be good for part-time retirees or second incomes, they don’t pay enough to meet the local cost of living. “We’d be better off with new affordable senior housing or houses that are affordable for young adults on Long Island,” she said.

And while a mall would generate tax revenue, John Mullins, director of the Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, has been studying mall development since the 1980s and says the residential component of mixed-use makes it probably a better bet overall.

“[A mall vs mixed-use] might be a wash in terms of tax revenue, but you’d probably gain because of the investment power of people who live there,” he explains. “The value is greater with residential, and you clearly benefit on traffic. Plus, reinvestment in the property is not so dependent on sales of the stores.”

Barbara Krieger, another Birchwood association director who lives near the site, says “There are much better uses for that property.” Krieger would prefer to see a computer company incubator, which would offer resources for businesses, or something comparable. Mullins also says that large vacant properties near the highway--rare in well-developed areas--are prime locations for office parks or similar high-end business facilities, which would be more likely to bring jobs paying $100,000 a year. He advises: “Don’t take your best spots and kill the golden goose.”

News

Farmingdale residents are being urged to use caution when answering the doorbell due to ongoing concerns of imposters posing as utility workers. On Aug. 19, officials with the South Farmingdale Water District—covering the Farmingdale, Bethpage, Seaford, North Massapequa and Massapequa Park communities—sent out an advisory warning customers not to let anyone into their homes claiming to be a water district employee without first showing photo identification. The advisory was sent as a safety precaution, instructing residents to immediately contact the police if they are suspicious of anyone identifying his or herself as a “water district” employee.

According to the South Farmingdale Water District Commissioners, it is rare for any water district employees to show up at a home or business unannounced in order to read a water meter or confirm a leak, as most, if not all, residential visits are done by appointment.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced that 258 campus police officers at 12 SUNY schools—including SUNY Farmingdale State College—are being armed with naloxone, an extremely effective heroin antidote that can instantly undo the effects of an opioid or heroin overdose.

The antidote, more commonly known as Narcan, will be provided as part of Schneiderman’s Community Overdose Prevention Program, which uses funds seized from drug dealers and other criminals to reimburse local police departments for the cost of naloxone kits.


Sports

It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.

“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.

Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.

 

“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia.  “Flying through the air never gets boring.  At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.” 


Calendar

Board of Education Special Meeting

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Movies on the Green: The Nut Job

Thursday, Aug. 28

Warbirds Legends Weekend

Friday, Aug. 29



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com