Despite some reservations about the impact that the proposed replacement for the Great Neck Park District administration buildingon Beach Road would have on the neighborhood, a revised plan presented last week met with general approval.
Village of Great Neck trustee Barton Sobel, in attendance at the business meeting at which architects Vince Cangelosi and Spencer Levine gave a detailed overview of the updated plans, expressed his feeling that the new building might be “overwhelming.”
After looking at the drawings and renderings displayed and discussed by Cangelosi and Levine, Sobel said: “I think it’s decimating the green space [that’s] on Beach Road presently. The current building is hidden and blends into the environment. You’re kind of sticking it into the corner of Beach and Willow.”
Commissioner Bob Lincoln disagreed and said, “We stayed within the zoning code purposely.” He also stated that these new plans were in response to public comments and concerns voiced over the initial plan presented several months ago.
“It’s not a lot of green space left over,” Sobel countered.
Referring to the fact that the new building will place it somewhat closer to Beach and Willow than the old building, Commissioner Dan Nachmanoff asked Sobel: “Do you feel that this distance is too little? Do you feel that this is going to overwhelm anybody in the community?”
“Actually, I think that it will be kind of an overwhelming building,” Sobel reiterated.
But another audience member pointed out that over 20 years ago there was a Victorian three-story house on the property that stood in front of the current building. Its deteriorated condition led the Park District to tear it down.
“We’ve all gotten used to having this building as far back as it is
now,” conceded Nachmanoff.
“We’re moving it forward for a couple of reasons.”
“It’s going to save us a lot of money to build this building in front of the other building and then tear it down, rather than get temporary offices somewhere else,” he emphasized.
“We’re going to reorient the building so that it faces the Village Green, which it should do because it’s our prime area…from an aesthetic point of view.”
Another resident pointed out that the new plan did not include a sidewalk on Willow Lane’s east side and both the commissioners and architects agreed that it would be a good idea to have one.
There is no sidewalk there now, but the narrow road does carry many school buses and many children and adults walk on Willow. There is a sidewalk on the other side of the street.
The new 3,890-square-foot, one-story building will have a basement and will occupy about the same space as the current building. The original plan called for a structure approximately 300 square feet larger. The 19 existing parking spaces will be increased to 21, down from the 29 originally proposed.
“By late August,” Lincoln answered when asked about a possible date for construction to begin. “We’d like to get all of the exterior work done before it gets cold.” Cangelosi estimated that the completion of the building would take about a year.
Lincoln pointed out that the new building’s bathrooms could be open to the public when special events are held on the Village Green.
“The layout of the building has been done in a way in which we can separate public areas from the offices,” he explained.
Cangelosi and Levine indicated that five (three in front of the existing structure) of the seven existing cherry trees will be preserved and the successful transplanting of several of them would be possible.
Lighting, building materials, screenings, plantings and capture of storm water were also discussed. “We wanted to have a real ‘green’ agenda, not just in looks, but in function,” said Levine.
Sobel raised another issue about the Village Green area, but this one was unrelated to the planned construction. “Right now, and in the summer, it’s not safe to walk in the park,” he said, referring to the fact that even though the park closes at 9 p.m., it is still used as a hangout.
Lincoln acknowledged the situation. “This is an ongoing problem,” he said. “And it’s not just in this park…we have our people that patrol…we have an agreement with the school district. They help us out; they keep an eye on things.”
“Quite honestly, some of this is what the police department is supposed to be doing. They will tell you that they don’t have the personnel.”