Friday, 18 September 2009 00:00
The Manhasset Park Civic Association adamantly opposes the Town of North Hempstead’s proposed purchase of the residential home at 51 Andrew Street in Manhasset for additional parking and/or office space for the town. Any use of this home other than a single-family home is simply not in the best interest of the area residents.
Many of the constituents you represent voiced their concerns over this proposal at the Aug. 31, meeting at Town Hall, pleading you retain this property as a single-family home. Your counterarguments (1) that the property is adjacent to Town Hall; (2) that the town board is not displacing a family currently residing in the home (although, it has been reported there is a family who had already entered into contract to purchase the property before the town began this process) and (3) that the property can be purchased below market value are insufficient reasons to further encroach on residential areas in Manhasset. This is especially true where a significant number of commercial properties in the area appear to be vacant. This purchase would adversely affect the quality of life for residents on Andrew Street and neighboring streets – without question. Please see photo of the previous home on Andrew Street demolished by the town for additional parking.
From a fiscal standpoint, any proposed expense by the town without a well-thought plan, cost analysis and full review of alternate options is reckless at best. After the town was about one month into the process, at the Aug. 31 meeting, it was revealed no such due diligence had been done. At that time, there was no clear response as to how many additional parking spots or how much additional office space is required by the town. There had been no review of alternate options or any cost/benefit analysis for this project. With the issuance of a 30-year bond, the total cost to the town, including the cost to purchase the property, including renovation and conversion of a single-family home into office space and the loss in town and school taxes from this residence is certainly greater than the “pennies” to each taxpayer as you presented it.
Ms. Poons urged us at the meeting to focus on the additional parking this would provide not the use of the single-family house. This proposal will create an estimated 10 additional parking spots for Town Hall. Given the bid price of the property of $625,000 and minimal construction costs for the spaces, 10 parking spaces would cost roughly $70,000 per parking spot. The town commissioned Traffic and Parking study completed in 2006 stated there was ample parking in the area with 1,200 off-street parking spots. While many of these spots are in privately owned lots, what precludes the town from leasing additional spots in these lots or from the Manhasset Park District? In fact, it is the town that provides approvals for the few local businesses that are allowed to legally to rent parking spots and enforces these codes so this certainly seems to be an alternative worth reviewing. The town could also consider use of remote parking lots (still within Manhasset and owned by the town) to store town vehicles to free up parking spaces at Town Hall. Another option for consideration is to remove assigned parking spots in the current town lot so spaces are fully utilized by those working at Town Hall on any given day. Similarly, as of the Aug. 31 meeting, the town had not considered or investigated leasing existing and readily available commercial space within steps of Town Hall for the additional office space required. These are just examples of options which should have been considered as part of this process in effort to spend taxpayer funds wisely and without expansion into another residential property.
We respectfully urge you to reconsider the purchase of this single-family home for these fiduciary reasons and the benefit of your constituents in Manhasset.
For the Manhasset Park Civic Association
(This letter was sent to Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Councilwoman Maria-Christina (Kitty) Poons with the rest of the town board copied.)