Written by Joe Scotchie Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00
The Town of North Hempstead board, as expected, has given approval to a bond resolution appropriating $7.5 million for the establishment of a Levitt Park At Roslyn Heights park district. The motion, which was taken up at the Sept. 10 meeting, passed with unanimous support.
The park, when constructed, will feature a 7.3 acre site, complete with an outdoor heated pool, Jacuzzi/spa area, water slide and plunge pool, kiddie pool and splash pad, playground, concession and outdoor seating area, bathhouse, lower and upper poolside promenades and resurfaced tennis courts with viewing area.
For now, what’s next for Levitt Park? Will put-upon residents of the Country Club neighborhood have a pool and tennis courts to use by the summer of 2014?
First, there is pending litigation between Roslyn Heights residents and the current owners of the property, Corona Realty. That has to be settled. Then, there is the matter of hiring design and engineering firms before the actual construction begins. Todd Zarin, a Roslyn Heights resident who has been instrumental in rallying local residents to pool construction, admits that having such a facility by next summer will be a challenger. But in the long term, he is certain that the new facilities will be a force that creates a real sense of community in Roslyn Heights. That sentiment and the fact that many older residents hold warm sentiments over the days when a pool was in operation helped to convince an overwhelming number of Roslyn Heights residents to pressure the town for a resolution on the matter.
Either way, the realization of a Levitt Park has moved toward a fitting resolution. As noted in this week’s issue, Supervisor Jon Kaiman is set to leave his post this winter. And indeed, Kaiman, last December, noted, “[there’s been] no other issue I’ve engaged in [more fully] than this one.” In July 2012, a major step was taken when the town board approved its acquisition of the 7.3-acre property. That approval quickly ignited an opposition from civic associations in neighboring villages. The opposition came up with enough signatures to force a referendum on the entire matter for the November elections. In response, a Roslyn Heights resident promptly filed a lawsuit, putting the referendum on hold.
The town responded with another compromise, the special improvement district plan, which has now been approved. With this plan, the town would acquire the property through its Environmental Legacy Fund (ELF) and an estimated cost of $2 million.
Board members have estimated the cost to the typical Town of North Hempstead property at between $800 and $1,000 in the first year, depending on the assessed value of the residential property. Since 2012, Kaiman has said that the town would allow for membership to all town residents, including those outside the Country Club neighborhood. But the park district would have to limit separate memberships and charge more than to local residents. Kaiman estimated that the outside memberships would run in the $1,200 range.
All throughout the contentious debate, Roslyn Heights residents were determined to end over a decade of stalemate and have the pool and tennis courts constructed. In the mid-1940s, pool membership was part of being a resident in the newly constructed Country Club neighborhood. Over the years, club owners complained about rising costs, which they often answered with rising membership fees. In time, litigation shut down the more pleasurable amenities of the then-
Roslyn Country Club and the property was used almost entirely as a catering hall. Whether the pool’s opening is 2014 or 2015, better days are coming for the young families of Roslyn Heights.