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Letter: Town Eyes House on Andrew Street for Expansion

My wife and I, along with our two children have lived at 57 Andrew St. in Manhasset, two houses from the north parking lot of town hall for approximately 16 years. The house next door at 51 Andrew St. has been on the market for some time, and as I believe went into foreclosure, the price was reduced drastically to $599,000. This resulted in much interest by various families and persons who would be looking to invest in the house, fix it up as needed, and live there. It came to our attention on Aug. 3, indirectly, that there was an agenda item on Town of North Hempstead Board Meeting scheduled on Aug. 4 that related to the town’s possible interest in the same property for additional parking for the town hall parking lot.

The item was listed on the agenda as follows:

 “30. A resolution authorizing the retention of special counsel. Synopsis: this resolution will authorize consultation and legal representation relative to the town’s acquisition of real property located in Manhasset, New York.”

As a result of a member of a local civic association advising us the day before the board meeting that this related to the property at 51 Andrew St., although not specified at all in the agenda item or elsewhere, we were able to attend that board meeting with numerous neighbors and representatives of some of the local civic associations, to voice our concern. Emails along with a letter were also sent to all board members prior to the meeting for the same purpose, voicing our opposition to the acquisition from a quality of life and residential character standpoint, as well as a financial standpoint for the town. Supervisor Jon Kaiman advised us that this was just a preliminary step to hire a lawyer to “make some phone calls and inquiries” on this property and a couple others. It was indicated that no offer or bid had been made, and none would be nor any further action taken without vote of the board, and that would not be done until the civic associations and neighborhood residents were advised and meeting held with all interested parties on the proposed acquisition.

It is now our understanding that the town has already submitted a bid on the property, and only after a phone call and email to Supervisor Kaiman and the Town Board Members on Tuesday, Aug. 25, was it indicated a letter would go to the residents of Andrew St. that the town is looking to move forward on the acquisition of the property at 51 Andrew St. This letter (attached) [see below] indicates that the intention is to possibly use it for surplus office needs while adding some parking spots on the town hall side of the structure. It also states that Supervisor Kaiman and Councilwoman Maria Christina Poons would host a meeting Monday night, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in the town board room at Town Hall with anyone interested. Such short notice unfortunately did not allow us to have this in the Manhasset Press prior to the meeting.

The following is part of a letter that we originally sent to Supervisor Kaiman and the Town Board members on Aug. 3, prior to the board meeting where this issue was first raised as noted previously:

“We, along with our neighbors, would like to voice our opposition to the purchase of the residential property at 51 Andrew St. by the Town of North Hempstead. Supervisor Jon Kaiman wrote in his State of the Town address dated Jan. 28, 2009: “I came to office, and continue in office with the idea that the financial stability of our Town government is paramount, that the environment is a priority, and that quality of life issues are the key to fulfilling our obligations to our residents.” If these are indeed the ideas of our Supervisor, then the proposed purchase of a residential property for commercial use does not support the statement of Supervisor Kaiman nor what we believe to be the desires of the residents of this town. The quality of life for the residents living both on Andrew Street and on the adjacent streets would be adversely affected by the conversion of this property to anything other than its current residential use.  Such change in its use will not add in any way positive way to our sense of community and the residential character of the area.  We already contend with congestion and traffic related to the LIRR, schools, and town hall, based on our location to Town Hall; however, we signed on for that when we bought our home over 16 years ago.  At the same time many of us enjoy being in a location close to town so we feel some of these things are the compromise we made when we purchased our home.  What we do not want nor did we choose was to add to this congestion and live on a street which is becoming half parking lot and half homes. Any plan that would increase the parking on this site would certainly diminish the quality of life for the residents in this area.  

We are also all very aware of the dire economic conditions we face as individuals as well as residents of a town that has seen a reduction in tax revenue.  We have and continue to suffer a decrease in our home values.  An extension of the parking lot on Andrew Street will only further deteriorate the value of our real estate, and take a current taxpaying home off the tax role, placing further burden on taxpayers.

For the Town of North Hempstead to purchase a home at an expense to the taxpayers estimated to be near $600,000 plus the expense of demolition and further construction as opposed to having a property that generates revenue to the town and school through taxes seems to also increase the economic burden we are currently facing. We hope you will consider the negative impact that the Town’s purchase and conversion of this site to any non-residential use will have on those in the community from both an economic perspective as well as a quality of life perspective.”

We certainly believe that this proposed acquisition of the residential property at 51 Andrew St. by the Town of North Hempstead is of interest to not only those neighbors directly affected but to all Manhasset residents, as taxpayers in regard to the expense to be incurred by the town and the loss of tax revenue from the property, and neighbors for both the quality of life and residential character of the area issues. While again, based on short notice provided, we were unable to have this published prior to the meeting that Supervisor Kaiman scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, we feel that all our neighbors and residents of Manhasset should be aware and hope that all will voice their concerns to Supervisor Kaiman and the members of the Town Board, the Councilpersons of the Town of North Hempstead, and that those concerns are hopefully heard.

Isn’t the purpose of government to serve the people? Shouldn’t there be a clear defined plan before spending additional tax dollars?  Is this the time to spend money on additional government infrastructure and lose tax revenue from the home? Is there a long term plan for the Town of North Hempstead as far as facilities and staffing? Are there other areas within the Town of North Hempstead that would be suited for the Town’s need for additional space?

Drive down the street on your way to town or to school or to the LIRR and see what you think of even more of this street being pavement.

Terry and Bill Riggin