Letter: What Mystical Kool-Aid Is The VGN Mayor Drinking From?

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I was very disappointed with the lack of insight demonstrated by both Mayor Bral and VHB of Hauppauge with respect to their Feb. 5 presentation to revitalize our downtown business corridors, a 10-year plan.

While their opening premise sounded smart, “Middle Neck Road has not achieved its potential,” what soon followed was an insult to every intelligent man and woman. The lead presenter declared zero environmental impact to a checklist which included, but was not limited to: traffic and parking, noise, air quality, water resources, soil, ecology and more. No wonder there was a steady line of community members approaching the microphone to make comments and ask questions.

Having resided in the Village of Great Neck for more than 20 years, my family has always been happy with the upscale suburban environment, combined with easy access to the LIRR, Northern Boulevard and area hospitals. These benefits will be dramatically altered with the proposed plan. VHB Consultants and Mayor Bral are recommending a 17 percent increase in population (1,700+ additional residents based on 10,000 residents), five-story housing on both Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road, as well as the relaxation of parking restrictions to allow for this increased population density.

These plans are in addition to the recent subdivisions that allow developers to split a single parcel of land into two. These plans are a dangerous assault not only to the village, but to the overall community. Wake up and smell the coffee, mayors and trustees in neighboring villages. Your residents and your roads will be negatively impacted.

I take offense to the following features:

There are nine villages in Great Neck. All villages use Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road as main arteries to access the LIRR, Northern Boulevard, hospitals and major highways. Currently, each village is free to create and implement a master plan without coordination or permission of the neighboring villages.

VHB is recommending the addition of 16 new buildings on Middle Neck Road and seven new buildings on East Shore Road. What about the additional buildings planned by the other Great Neck villages on these same corridors?

The daily traffic after 3 p.m. on both Middle Neck Road and East Shore Road is already severely backed up, much talked about and negatively impacting area residents. Great Neckers, like all Long Islanders, love their cars and many households own several. This is not New York City with a heavy infrastructure of subways, buses and taxis. Little thought has been given to the current and future traffic on our main corridors.

According to Google search, Great Neck Plaza is the 11th most densely populated village in the United States. Is this what Mayor Bral envisions for the Village of Great Neck with his multiple clusters of five-story buildings and the relaxation of parking restrictions?

The population of Great Neck increased by slightly more than 300 residents
(3 percent) since 2010. The 17 percent increase Mayor Bral envisions in the next 10 years would greatly harm our current infrastructure and suburban quality of life.

We moved to Great Neck for the quality of life. Great Neck was never intended to be trendy, hip Brooklyn. If the mayor and board want nightlife and bright lights, maybe their families should consider relocating, rather than decimate a community that is beloved by many residents who feel connected to it from generation to generation.

The VHB presentation acknowledges 84 additional students for the public schools. That number is severely understated based on a 1,700 population increase in the next 10 years. Currently, the Great Neck public schools are maxed out in terms of students-per-class size and available classrooms. Is the VHB plan intended to destroy our excellent public school ratings?

The Village of Great Neck government acted in isolation on a major overhaul that will have a chain reaction to neighboring villages. It also failed to weigh in with the local fire department, police department, public school administration, post office and other entities.

Those mayors and trustees must be included in the planning process if residents are to believe there is a benefit to the community. Thus far, the only clear benefits and incentives are those to the developers. Are you surprised? Please attend the public hearing
on Feb. 19 at Village Hall, 61 Baker Hill Rd.

—Joseph Rosenthal

2 COMMENTS

  1. None of the mayors will impose the one family fer one house law. Some of great neck apartments and houses have multi dwellings, some of them even 5 families in one house, which is dangerous (fire hazardous) ans adds more burden on our schools and taxes.

  2. Direct solutions are needed for direct problems. The direct problem was lack of sustainable and thriving retail along the corridor and associated residential and retail vacancies. It appears that VHB was given a greater number of goals beyond this for their proposal and the proposal does not offer a direct solution to the retail sustainability problem. I appreciate the other goals that the Village has put forth to VHB and there is merit in the long term vision and effort, but again it does offer a direct and near-term solution to the retail sustainability issue.

    The VHB proposed is somewhat a “Rube Goldberg machine”. Change zoning –> Allows 1st floor retail –> Incentivize taller buildings with retail fronts –> ‘Hope for’ more residential and retail occupancy in the new / existing spaces –> Spend to implement traffic calming and other controls in anticipation –> ‘Hope for’ new business and resident occupants –> ‘Hope’ that the profile of new occupants are as forecast (# kids, etc.) –> ‘Hope for’ the new residents to patronize any new businesses –> ‘Hope that’ this will drive more businesses and residential occupancy and sustainability –> If not, vacancies possibly increase due to now additional units if retail and residential do not come / still aren’t sustained –> Penalize landlords for vacancies = ALL POSSIBLY LEADING TO exacerbated version of today’s problem.

    This is A LONG WAY AROUND for solution where vacancies exist due to either current retail not appealing enough to current residents and / or retailers cannot sustain their businesses. If we focus on the problem at hand and solution bringing in desirable retail merchants that are sustainable and address the sustainability challenges (such as high rent costs, etc.), we might then look at the approach to the remaining vision and goals differently. Also, VHB does not highlight on their website any “Market Experience” for their business related to solving retail sustainability / rejuvenation.

    With the right players and I recommend a prioritized plan that directly yields results rather than something complex / controversial with NO guarantee to solve the problem at hand. A proposal like this should not be considered as is.

    Rather, let’s have experienced consultants sharpen their pencils to first develop direct and near-term solutions for the retail sustainability problem and the plan remained of the plan be a Phase II of sorts. If the solutions yield quantified result targets, then proceed with broader more sweeping change. I think this would be a “Win (Residents) – Win (Village Gov’t) – Win (Retail)”.

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