Friday, 16 March 2012 00:00
On the corner of Wood Road and Arrandale Avenue, there is a forlorn piece of property that belongs to Nassau County. Part of it is protected wetlands and there is a sump buried in the heart of it. For all intents and purposes, it cannot be developed.
Many people just assume, since it is adjacent to the Parkwood Complex owned by the Great Neck Park District, that it is owned by the district, but that is not the case. The park district has tried to acquire it to save it from being such a growing eyesore.
When Tom Suozzi became county executive in 2001, he visited communities all over Nassau County to familiarize himself with their distinctive assets and problems. We were on a bus with him filled with local officials and took a grand tour all over Great Neck. When we passed by Wood Road and it was explained to him that the land was owned by the county, but seldom maintained, he said with a wave of his hand, “Oh, we’ll deed it over to the park district. It’ll save us money to unload it.”
The Record doggedly pursued the promise and the status of it becoming a reality. Finally, the county’s real estate office made an offer to the park district. It could be theirs for a cool $1 million..
Naturally, the ludicrous proposal did not go anywhere.
Later there was dickering with the officials of the Village of Great Neck to determine whether the village would take it over. Those discussions also went nowhere.
Meanwhile, some commercial gardeners started dumping there and someone threw in old tires for good measure, all the better for breeding mosquitoes. Two women in the neighborhood, exasperated by the growing mounds of litter and ignoring the county’s Do Not Trespass signs, spent hours bagging the debris and ending up with 20 huge bags of garbage.
In the summer of 2010, when the microburst ravaged the area, the parcel lost some beautiful old trees and now the cut wood is piled up in the westernmost corner of the lot. The yellow police tape marking the area off is still there although bedraggled and on the ground. As well as abundant litter scattered throughout the property, there are some political signs left over from last fall’s election with both parties well represented, Republican and Democrat. Another pet peeve.
We started inquiring again about the fate of the property two weeks ago. Last Friday, we received an email from Nassau County’s Press Secretary Katie Grilli-Robles stating: “The County is currently in talks with the Great Neck Park District to potentially transfer the property to them. No specifics are available at this time as it is an ongoing negotiation. In addition, we are currently having the property appraised.”
Chris Prior, attorney for the park district, affirms that discussions are underway.
It is high time for the county to act responsibly, to do the right thing. They need to accept that their stewardship of this land has been practically non-existent and that it would be an act of grace and practicality to offer it to the park district for a nominal fee, say, a dollar?
Nassau County will not vault itself out of its deep budget deficit by continuing to offer it at an inflated price. And it would go a long way toward mending community anxieties in light of all the service cutbacks. And the lot, tended for by the park district staff could become a little green oasis instead of a vision of blight.