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

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.

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