We were puzzled to see the letter from the Mineola School Board President outlining financial concerns of the downtown redevelopment projects underway. Since the revitalization process began over the last decade, the Village of Mineola has completed a Master Plan with broad public input, approved an intermodal bus and parking facility, expanded Winthrop Hospital, brought in a high-tech incubator, new restaurants and shops, and developed a series of tax-positive senior and multi family rental units that will bring minimal children into the school district. It is our understanding that the bulk of these endeavors leveraged new private investment and state and federal grant assistance at no cost to the taxpayer.
Mineola is one of the leading downtowns in Nassau County along with the villages of Westbury, Farmingdale, Rockville Centre and Great Neck Plaza that are using their assets to generate jobs, redevelopment and bring life to their main street.
Thanks for your quick response to Board President Artie Barnett’s letter regarding the Board of Education’s concern about the construction of almost 900 one, two and three-bedroom rental units under PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Tax) agreements. Under these agreements, these 900 units would pay a substantially discounted school tax for the next 20 years. While developers may have imagined these apartments for young professionals, certainly it would be discriminatory in practice to turn down families. And having become established in our community, young professionals will likely start families here. Nine hundred units over 20 years will have its share of children. But the buildings will not be picking up their share of the tax burden, which will be shifted to taxpayers and small businesses in the Villages of Mineola, Williston Park, Garden City Park, Albertson, and Roslyn Heights. Our Board of Education must address any sudden bump in our school population and the attendant cost while keeping our promise to the school district taxpayers to honor the 2 percent tax cap.
We believe the Village of Mineola ought to be working with the board of education in a timely and collegial manner on any decisions that affect school taxes.
I write this letter in response to an Oct. 15 letter to the editor in the Mineola American from the Mineola Board of Education, with “unanimous consensus, under the signature of Artie Barnett, president. I am writing directly to the board of education because I believe it most appropriate that municipal boards communicate with each other on a board-to-board basis rather than by playing media games.
The basic point of the school board’s letter is that the Mineola Village Board acted in a “shortsighted” and “negligent” manner in formulating its Master Plan and in approving several major residential development projects as part of the Village’s Downtown Revitalization Program because it undertook actions “without the input of the local school board.” The school district claims that these new projects will generate a “significant” increase
in school population resulting in an increase in class sizes, the need for new sections and the need to expand the Pre-K—2 building at Hampton Street School. It also claims that the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) Program awarded by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) constitutes a sweetheart deal with residential developers which may leave the apartment buildings “empty, or worse, subsidized” and create an unstable tax base.
The facts and the truth do not support these charges. Allow me to analyze the school board’s claims item by item.
The claim that the school district was not consulted with respect to the revitalization activities undertaken by the village board is bogus. The school district was invited to participate at every step of the way. All activities of the board of trustees were conducted in public, were televised in the community and were widely covered by local print media. Everyone, including the school board, was invited to participate.
Editor’s Note: Lou Sanders, who has his journalism degree from NYU, and his wife, Grace, a graduate of Adelphi, founded the Mineola American in 1952, giving the village its first successful newspaper. Lou and Grace have lived in Mineola for 60 years, and his popular column is a signature feature of this paper.
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The Mineola Board of Education has been watching decisions by local and state leaders which we believe will have a severe negative impact on the majority of district taxpayers. We have long said “we can control the tax levy but we cannot control the tax rate.” We believe the tax rate is going to get out of control if something isn’t done.
When Jack Martins became mayor of Mineola, he set a standard of accountability. He began a program to turn the village back from increasing high debt which would have crashed the village on the shore of one sided thinking.
When Mineola High School grads say that they want to major in English, they are quickly pegged as teachers and dumped into the education bin. If they say, “No, I’m a journalist,” they get “Oh, that’s interesting,” in a tone that evokes patting a child’s head. Or the suggestion, knowingly delivered, that it’s “a dying field.”
Writers have long been envied for their creative freedom and perceived cushy work, even as they are pitied for their wages. Oh to turn the tables and watch the haters try it; working on deadline, staring at a computer screen for 15 hours straight, cranking out original pieces several times a day.
I am writing to you to express my support for Bonnie Parente in her race to succeed Tom Dwyer, the North Hempstead Town Councilman who resigned earlier this year. I currently serve as your Councilman for the 3rd District which encompasses Garden City Park, Mineola, Williston Park, Garden City, and parts of New Hyde Park. After the recent redistricting, some of my prior constituents are now part of the 2nd District in the Town of North Hempstead. I know of no better person to serve my prior constituents than Bonnie Parente. The Second District includes East Williston, Albertson, Herricks, parts of Williston Park, Manhassett Hills, Searington, Roslyn, Roslyn Heights, Roslyn Harbor, Greenvale and East Hills. I have known Bonnie for almost twenty years, and she is a dedicated public servant.
So, as I was saying...I got this opportunity to put together seven straight hours of entertainment on three separate stages of someone else’s construction in the Mineola Street Fair. Big Time Sow Biz, here I come, huh? But only three hours to go, my star mime Bud from YouTube calls in a “Can’t show..stuck somewhere in Pa”.... Now what ? Who’s going to represent the FORVETS Task Force that inspires me to keep moving my own aching bones and arches every day ?
Editor’s Note: Lou Sanders, who has his journalism degree from NYU, and his wife, Grace, a graduate of Adelphi, founded the Mineola American in 1952, giving the village its first successful newspaper. Lou and Grace, a graduate of Adelphi University, have lived in Mineola for 60 years, and his popular column is a signature feature of this paper.
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