I am writing to clear up many misconceptions stated in a recent letter to the editor.
The public hearings for proposed Village of Great Neck rezoning that took place in February and March were overcome with a level of hostility and animus to which some civic activists fanned the flames. Signs and literature were handed out to residents by these activists before the board meetings, stating personal impressions of the proposed corridor study before any words were spoken in the presentation. Many residents received emails and literature indicating problems with the VHB study and the “secretiveness” of the board.
The implication given to the public was that any proposed change would cause the end of life as we know it in the village. The proposed legislation was just that: a proposal. The hearings were put in place for the board to listen to the public. Based on the overwhelming response, the mayor and board are starting over.
But this time, the hope is that all the experts that have been quoted, will show up before the study is concluded and volunteer—like the people who came forward to be a part of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). Many of the critics of the proposal did not volunteer for that committee, nor did the vast majority show up for many of the preliminary meetings where other presentations were given. The CAC was composed of volunteers, not appointees as was incorrectly suggested.
It’s very easy to play Monday morning quarterback and critique everyone when all the data is in after much work has been done.
There are those who complained that the engineering firm VHB was chosen in the first place, given that we have so many experts living in Great Neck. The fact that any consultant was sought indicates that the mayor and board were doing their due diligence to see what impact rezoning would have on the peninsula.
While we may not agree with the study, this engineering company is one that has been used by many other villages all over Long Island. Would our homegrown experts be able to stand up to neighbor after neighbor criticizing their work and analysis? Those that have expressed their disagreement with the study’s conclusion have been welcomed to contribute their findings in the roundtable meetings to come.
After three public hearings, and more than a year of accepting public input regarding the Village of Great Neck corridor study, Mayor Bral invited leaders in the Great Neck community and the county to his home, for the purpose of seeking productive thoughts on how to revitalize Great Neck.
This casual invitation was extended to leaders in various aspects of the community and county, people on both sides of the aisle. It allowed for them to meet and exchange ideas without yelling about how no revitalization is necessary. This meeting showed a level of understanding on the mayor’s part, demonstrating that we cannot move forward without understanding each other.
In Laura Curran’s state of the county address this month, she said that revitalization can be achieved with increased housing, in smart and careful ways, where school districts and living spaces have not been impacted negatively.
I think we should all come together in this spirit of understanding and not attack the mayor, trustees or anyone for attempting to improve our village. Maybe now with this personal invitation to the public, people will consider what positive changes can be made to revitalize our village.