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Culture Center Proposal in North Hills

Village To Conduct Resident Survey to Gauge Public Opinion

The Village of North Hills is studying a proposal to construct a 17,000 sq. ft. Cultural Center. The proposed center would be built on a two-acre site on the Long Island Expressway South Service Road, between New Hyde Park and Shelter Rock Road.

The proposal has run into opposition from some village residents, who stated their concerns at a recent village meeting.

According to Eli Weinberg, a North Hills resident who is spearheading the opposition, the village doesn’t need such a facility.

“Adequate facilities of this type already exist in this area,” Weinberg wrote to Mayor Marvin Natiss in an April 2 letter. “We have one of the country’s best cultural programs available through the combined adult education programs of our local schools, our two libraries and museum readily available. Exercise facilities are available through a number of commercial and community organizations. We should not be asked to support a facility for residents who chose not to spend the money to live a community that already provides these services.”

The proposal, according to Mayor Natiss in his own letter dated April 15 and one sent to village residents, includes an outdoor Sculpture Garden, park-like seating areas and parking for 67 vehicles.

The proposed facility, the mayor added, is a one-story structure with a lower level and includes an art gallery, media room, multipurpose room, library with a computer area, small meeting rooms, and an exercise center. The facility, he said, will be entirely handicapped accessible.

In the letter, Mayor Natiss noted that of the 29 communities in North Hills, only six have a clubhouse and amenities. The purpose of the proposed center, he added, is to provide North Hills residents with similar amenities and to “enhance the benefits of residing in our village.”

 “The estimated cost of the project is approximately $6 million, which would come from an existing incentive zoning fund which may be used only for community amenities and may not be used for general village purposes,” the letter further states. “ This project will not increase your Village tax and will not use taxpayer funds. Our Village currently has the lowest tax rate of any of the 64 villages in Nassau County, and probably in the entire state. The dedicated incentive zoning fund is more than sufficient to cover the entire cost of this project, and future operations.”

The Incentive Zoning Fund that the mayor refers to amounts to $37 million.

According to Weinberg, the village should be getting the maximum benefit of that funding. Weinberg suggests that the village create a community-based committee to oversee the creation of a comprehensive plan, one that would identify public services and community amenities “which will benefit the whole community together with recommendations about how best to implement these improvements.” Such amenities would include more village parking.

Currently, the village, Mayor Natiss said, is polling North Hills residents to gauge their own opinions on the proposal. Village officials are conducting a survey of all 29 communities in North Hills, in order, as Mayor Natiss said, “to see if enough people want it [the culture center.]” At a May meeting, residents suggested that such a survey be conducted. Some residents also questioned the feasibility of such a center.