Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Reminder to Town Board: Time to Purchase Waterfront Utility Property in Glenwood Landing

Oystery Bay—The following statement was made on behalf of three area civic associations during the public comment period at the Town Board Meeting held this evening:

My name is Patrice Benneward. I live in Glenwood Landing. I’ve been asked to speak to you this evening by three civic associations: the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic, the Todd Estates Civic, and the Hill Terrance Civic.

Our organizations ask that you move forward with the purchase of a property on the GWL Waterfront that has been discussed for the last 6 years or so. It is an approximately 4-acre parcel that was an underground storage facility for propane until about 1999. Next to it is a smaller wetland parcel that is contiguous with Tappen Beach.

Both lots seem to be owned by KeySpan and both have been fully remediated. The scuttlebutt has been that the wetland lot would eventually be donated to the town but the propane field would require purchase.

Town, state, and county funding sources are in place for the acquisition. The property is on the town’s SEA list; the state has awarded the town two grants specifically earmarked for the property; and Nassau County has included the property on its environmental bond act priority list.

The property was not acquired under the town’s first round of environmental bond purchases, largely, I think, because it did not seem to be immediately threatened with development. Several other worthy properties were acquired at that time, most notably Underhill. Our civic associations recognize that these choices are difficult to make and enthusiastically supported your decision on these acquisitions.

However, at this time, we believe that the GWL waterfront parcel is the most critical purchase the town can make. We think so for 5 major reasons:

1) The property is now threatened: A British firm recently made a serious offer to purchase KeySpan. If this offer does not go through, another buyer is likely to materialize. A new owner would be under no obligation to honor any informal agreement that the town may have with KeySpan. Thus, the opportunity for the town to acquire the propane field and wetland could easily be lost indefinitely.

2) The impact of neighboring development: The Town of North Hempstead recently accepted an EIS for a waterfront parcel just south of the town line in the TNH portion of Glenwood Landing. The EIS was triggered by an application for a zoning change to accommodate a 60-unit apartment complex adjacent to the GWL Power Station that would be served by a sewer line to Glen Cove. A zoning hearing is scheduled for July 18. As this project moves forward, it is likely to set a precedent that may trigger a significant rise in the value of all other underutilized parcels on the GWL waterfront, irrespective of jurisdictional lines and including the propane field.

3) The lots are collecting debris: While the propane field was pristine immediately after the remediation was completed, it is becoming a magnet for debris—just as any unused property would. Already, at least one abandoned boat has somehow found its way to the site. The longer the property remains unused, the more debris will accumulate and the more it eventually will cost the public to tidy things up should the property be brought into the public domain. Also, the ground surrounding the wetland was capped, which means the site is inappropriate for deep-rooted plants. It does not appear that the property is being managed to maintain only shallow-rooted plants, which could increase initial management costs down the line.

4) Public expectations: Four years ago two generators were installed on the east side of Shore Road across the street from the propane field. Many residents of this community accepted this intensification of industrial activity predicated on an understanding with KeySpan and LIPA that two public benefits would soon follow: the propane field and adjacent wetland would be brought into the public domain and additional taxes or PILOTs would be forthcoming. Thus far, neither outcome has been realized. To say that this is discouraging is putting it mildly.

5) To advance the goals of existing management plans: The acquisition would advance the goals of the GWL Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan, which the town adopted in 2002. It also would advance the goals of the NYS Open Space Plan, which specifically includes as a priority the creation of a GWL Waterfront Greenway.

For all of these reasons, our organizations hope that you will purchase the propane field immediately, while there is still an opportunity to do so. As always, thank you for your attention and consideration.

Halt in Work at Glenwood Site Until Runoff Is Controlled

The New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation reports that a Notice of Violation has been issued to the owners of the construction site at the northwest corner of Glenwood Road and Kissam Lane for beginning work without a NYS SPDES permit, see Glenwood Landing Bids Farewell to a Piece of History, May 25; Stormwater Controls Implemented at GWL Site, May 25; Stormwater Runoff Controls Needed at Glenwood Landing Site, May 12. These permits are designed to control runoff, a major source of pollution and silt build up in Hempstead Harbor and virtually all other waterways. A temporary stop work order has been issued until the site has been stabilized and the conditions required for a permit are satisfied.

More Congressinal Shenanigans Could Gut Hempstead Harbor Funding

We have just learned from Friends of the Bay, based in Oyster Bay, that another proposed change in the language of the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2006 (H.R. 5160) would eliminate open space from funding under the bill. Thus, underwater lands, wetlands, and open space would no longer be eligible for the funds the bill is designed to provide. These are the very lands that the bill was created to protect. It is difficult to believe that the sponsors of the bill would accept such changes, as they effectively gut the bill. Please contact the parties listed in the Civic Spot posting of June 25, Federal Funding for Hempstead Harbor Projects Threatened. At the very least, if you live on the east side of Hempstead Harbor, contact Congressman Peter King, as most—if not all—of us in that area are in Mr. King's district (Pete.King@mail.house.gov /1003 Park Boulevard Massapequa Park, NY 11762 / 516-541-4225). This legislation is very important.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Federal Funding for Hempstead Harbor Projects Threatened

Your help is urgently needed to ensure that federal funds are available for projects that protect wetlands in Hempstead Harbor and neighboring waterways. Hempstead Harbor (along with Manhasset Bay, Oyster Bay Harbor and other key Long Island Sound waters) recently were designated as Long Island Sound Stewardship sites.

The designation makes municipalities in these areas eligible for funding under The Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2006 (H.R. 5160), proposed federal legislation now under review. The text of the bill is available from the search page of the U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk.

However, a recent change in the act (apparently prompted by a single voice in Connecticut) would eliminate all wetlands and underwater lands from the definition of a stewardship site, leaving only uplands above the mean high water mark. If this language is accepted, it will undermine the original intent of the act and eliminate funding for the most critical projects in Hempstead Harbor and surrounding waters.

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association believes that this change makes no sense and is highly damaging to Hempstead Harbor and to Long Island Sound.

Please consider sending the draft letter below, or some version of it, to the local offices of key congresspersons in New York and Connecticut. If you wish, you can go to U.S. House of Representatives: Write Your Representative to send your messages via email (see note below).

The suggested text was composed by Eric Swenson, director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC), an intermunicipal organization made up of the municipalities surrounding the harbor (the towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead, the villages of Sea Cliff, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn, Flower Hill and Sands Point, the City of Glen Cove, and Nassau County). The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association participates in HHPC as a nonvoting member and supports the work of the committee in whatever way it can.

In the letter, Eric points out that "trying to protect Long Island's coastal ecology without protecting its wetlands and underwater lands is like trying to protect a tree while allowing its limbs to be cut off." Great progress is being made in restoring the wetlands and water quality in Hempstead Harbor and in Long Island Sound in general. This is an opportunity to help federal officials understand how to keep that progress on track.


The Honorable Steve Israel
U.S. House of Representatives
150 Motor Parkway, Suite 108
Hauppauge, NY 11788-5152

Re: Long Island Sound Stewardship Act (H.R. 5160)

Dear Congressman Israel:

I am writing to you regarding the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act (H.R. 5160) which would establish the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative. My colleagues and I are concerned about a recent change to the “Boundaries” section of the legislation that would exclude all underwater lands and wetlands from the protections afforded by this otherwise much-needed bill.

We believe that the exclusion of wetlands and underwater lands largely defeats the very purpose of the bill, which was introduced “... to identify, protect, and enhance sites within the Long Island Sound ecosystem with significant ecological, educational, open space, public access, or recreational value through a bi-state network if sites best exemplifying these values.”

Wetlands provide irreplaceable habitat for various species and also serve as natural filters for stormwater which in turn protects the health of our harbors. In fact, the bill itself states that “approximately 1/3 of the tidal marshes of the Long Island Sound have been filled, and much of the remaining marshes have been ditched, diked or impounded, reducing the ecological value of the marshes”.

Not only should these areas be protected but they should be the main focus of this legislation. Trying to protect Long Island Sound coastal sites but eliminating protection of wetlands and underwater lands is like trying to protect a tree but allowing its limbs to be cut off. The wetlands and underwater lands are so integral and key to the protection of the coastal ecosystem that eliminating them from the scope of the bill effectively “guts” the bill.

As a community which has done much to protect and enhance Hempstead Harbor, we urge you to revise the Stewardship Act to include New York’s wetlands and underwater lands.

Thank you for your consideration.


Gary Ackerman
218-14 Northern Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361-3503

Timothy Bishop
3680 Route 112, Suite C, Coram, NY 11727

Joseph Crowley
74-09 37th Ave, Suite 306-B, Jackson Heights, NY 11372-6303

Rosa L. DeLauro
59 Elm Street, Suite 205, New Haven, CT 06510-2036

Peter King
1003 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park, NY 11762-2758

Nita M. Lowey
222 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 310, White Plains, NY 10605-1316

Carolyn McCarthy
200 Garden City Plaza, Suite 320, Garden City, NY 11530-3338

Christopher Shays
10 Middle Street, 11th Floor, Bridgeport, CT 06604-4223

Robert Simmons
2 Courthouse Square, 5th Floor, Norwich, CT 06360-5763


Note: U.S. House of Representatives: Write Your Representative seems to be set up to permit people to send messages only to the congressperson representing their particular district. It appears to be possible for those with legitimate reasons for contacting congresspersons outside their district to get around this by using the recipient's zip code instead of the sender zip code when prompted for the sender zip code. However, you should still type in all of your correct contact information in the various address felds that follow. In your message, you might want to include an introductory sentence to the effect that, although you do not live in the representative's district, you are writing on a matter of great concern to everyone who lives near Long Island Sound and that requires intermunicipal cooperation, so you hope that the congressperson will take the message seriously. You also may have to type in a number or letter in a required field to prove that you are not spamming. (To reach Timothy Bishop you can use any four digit zip code extension for the portion of Coram that Mr. Bishop represents; how to do this will become evident). It could be easier, but it's not as bad as it sounds.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Action Needed on Propane Field Acquisition

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association will renew its request that the Town of Oyster Bay (TOB) move forward with plans to acquire two waterfront lots on Hempstead Harbor adjacent to Tappen Beach at the Town Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. Please try to attend. You may speak or simply show your support by your presence. Town Hall is located at 54 Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay. The public comment period is usually at the end of the meeting. If you know you will be attending in time to RSVP, please send a message to gwghcivic@optonline.net.

The lot available for purchase is a fully remediated underground propane storage facility that is currently owned by KeySpan. There also is an adjacent wetland that has been cleaned up and is likely to be donated to the town. The parcels have been recommended for acquisition by the town's Save Environmental Assets Bond Act Advisory Committee. In addition, TOB has received two state grants to assist with the acquisition, and the Nassau County Open Space Advisory Committee also has recommended acquisition of the property with funds available under the county's environmental bond act (see Protecting Environmental Bond Recommendations, April 21; GWL Waterfront Scores as County Priority, March 10).

At least three major developments support swift action to bring the lots into the public domain:

The possible sale of KeySpan, potentially to a British firm that recently made a serious offer (see KeySpan Buyout: Waterfront Implications, March 05). It does not seem likely that a new owner would be obligated to honor any understanding that the town and KeySpan may have, whether formal or informal.

The impact of a project proposed for a parcel just south of the town line in the Town of North Hempstead (TNH) portion of Glenwood Landing (see EIS for GWL Waterfront Apartments Available at Gold Coast Library, May 27; Sewer Line: Consider Glenwood Landing, March 19). TNH recently accepted a Final Environmental Impact Statement for a 60-unit apartment complex adjacent to the Glenwood Landing Power Station that would be served by a sewer line to Glen Cove. The project could set a precedent that triggers a rise in the value of the propane field.

The integrity of the remediation. While the propane field was pristine when remediation was completed, it is becoming a magnet for debris—just as any unused property would. Already, at least one abandoned boat has somehow found its way to the site. The longer the property remains unused, the more debris will accumulate and the greater the cost of eventual removal. Also, the wetland adjacent to the propane field was capped, precluding the site as an appropriate location for deep-routed plants. It does not appear that the wetland parcel is being managed to maintain the appropriate flora, which could lead to unnecessary expenses in the future.

Finally, this community accepted the intensification of industrial activity on its waterfront (i.e, the installation of two generators on the east side of Shore Road) predicated on an informal understanding with KeySpan and LIPA that two public benefits would follow: the propane field (and adjacent wetland) would be brought into the public domain and additional taxes (whether in the form of a traditional tax or a PILOT). Thus far, neither has been forthcoming. To say that this is discouraging is putting it mildly.

In recent years, TOB voters approved two town environmental bonds; voters also approved a similar county bond. This civic association distributed more than 6,000 educational flyers about these initiatives, which passed overwhelmingly. The first TOB bond funded acquisition of several worthy parcels, including the Underhill property, a large parcel near Route 107 in the vicinity of Jericho. The movement to acquire the Underhill property began decades ago and the civic association fully supported it. That purchase was accomplished with town, county, and state funds.