Friday, June 29, 2007

Athletic Field Proposed for Tappen Draws Community Comment at Oyster Bay Town Board Meeting

Tuesday, June 26—Several community groups today addressed the Oyster Bay Town Board about the possibility of a new athletic field at Tappen Beach. The statement made by the civic association follows:

Good evening. My name is Patrice Benneward. I am speaking to you on behalf of the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association. I am here because, although I have no details, I have heard through the grapevine that you may be considering installing a second athletic field at Tappen Beach.

First, our organization wants to thank you for considering an additional athletic field in the Glenwood / Glen Head area, as well as for several recent improvements at Tappen Beach—including a gazebo, playgrounds, benches, landscaping, and repair of the boat launch.

All of these initiatives are very much appreciated. The civic association does have some concerns, though, about locating another athletic field at the beach. While these concerns may not be insurmountable, we do feel that they present some serious challenges.

I served on the steering committee that created the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan. I believe the plan noted that a study examining the recreational needs of the area would be useful. I suggest that it is important to conduct such a study now, both to get a better grip on the demand for specific types of activities and to survey the possible locations for facilities that could address these needs.

I also think that the addition of an athletic field at the beach represents a major change in use and that such a project requires considerable public input and a formal public hearing.

Our organization, for example, has concerns about the impact of an additional athletic field on view corridors, the picnic and play areas, mature trees, the sitting area north of the pool, and parking. Public input and a formal hearing would provide a forum for these concerns—as well as the concerns of others—to be taken into consideration.

We also wonder whether the new facility would be open to all residents or just to members of particular clubs or groups. It seems to us that a public discussion about the pros and cons of each approach is necessary before moving forward one way or the other.

Our organization is also a strong supporter of planning. We advocate an updated comprehensive plan for Tappen Beach as a means of avoiding piecemeal development; ensuring that we get the most bang for the buck; and guaranteeing that improvements remain viable over the long term. We suggest that the time is ripe for such a plan and urge that it be created now—and with ample public participation.

I also would like to mention that the civic association is a strong supporter of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC). A representative of the civic association has attended almost every HHPC meeting for the last decade. To the best of my knowledge, HHPC has not been informed that this project may be in the works and, in fact, often seems to be left out of the loop on many projects that impact the harbor. In my view, it would be a real advance if, as a matter of policy, all departments were made aware that they should bring HHPC into the loop on all matters that affect the harbor.

Finally, for a very long time and as I believe you are all aware, this community has been patiently waiting for the utility properties adjacent to Tappen Beach to be brought into the public domain. When the back-up generators were installed across the street, all parties assured us, albeit informally, that the propane field would, in all likelihood, be purchased by the town and the wetland lot would be donated to the town.

Since then, the propane field has made both the county and town bond act lists, and the town has even received grants to put toward the acquisition of the property and the initial planning. Yet, as far as I know, we are not any closer to acquiring either lot today than we were five or six years ago. In fact, the pending sale of KeySpan may actually be jeopardizing the exchange. It is essential that the town acquire these properties as quickly as possible and, yet again, I urge you to pursue them very aggressively.

On a personal note, although I have been actively involved in local waterfront issues for some time now, I have not mentioned my own personal desires regarding uses at Tappen Beach—and believe me I do have them—in any forum to date. This is because I have felt it would be premature in the absence of a community platform open to all. I have taken it for granted that once the utility properties were acquired such a forum would be forthcoming. However, as the purchase of the properties seems to be taking so long and only seems to become more questionable, I think it is perhaps important to begin planning for the future of the lands that are in the public domain now in an open forum that balances the competing recreational desires of all residents.

Thank you for your attention and interest in the Glenwood Landing Waterfront.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Athletic Field at Tappen Beach?

The Town of Oyster Bay is apparently considering installing an artificial turf athletic field at Tappen Beach. As of this writing, how installation of such a field might affect view corridors and existing amenities—such as the picnic area, playgrounds, gazebo, roller hockey ring, trees, marina, sitting area north of the pool, and parking lot—is unknown to the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association.

Whether the field would be available to all residents or just to members of certain clubs also is unknown. The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association recognizes there may be a need for more athletic fields in the area. However, we believe a study is needed to assess this potential need and the possible locations for such fields.

We believe that the installation of an athletic field at Tappen Beach is a major change in use that requires public input and a formal hearing. We also believe that a new comprehensive plan for Tappen Beach that has been fully vetted by the public is a necessary precursor to such a change. Because the possible acquisition of the utility properties affects the ability to plan, we believe that the town should aggressively pursue acquisition of the these properties despite the pending sale of KeySpan.

In all cases, the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association is committed to maintaining and maximizing view corridors and to passive uses at Tappen Beach. We also believe that amenities at Tappen Beach should be open to all residents, regardless of whether or not they belong to a particular club.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

TOB ZBA Hearing on Motts Cove Rd Subdivision Rescheduled

The Town of Oyster Bay Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for a subdivision proposed for the east side of Motts Cove Road just south of the footbridge has apparently been rescheduled for Thursday, July 26.

The parcel straddles Glen Head and Roslyn Harbor. Five lots are proposed for the Glen Head portion; one is proposed for the Roslyn Harbor portion. The parcel is sloped and irregularly shaped and contains water features.

TOB recently held a hearing on code amendments that could, potentially, reduce the number of lots permitted on the parcel. Among the most relevant is an amendment concerning steep slopes and wetlands (see Study Addresses Community Character in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head, April 6; Civic Documents Architectural Styles of Glen Head & Glenwood Landing Homes, April 2.

At a recent Town Board hearing on the amendments, John Chase, the attorney for the subdivision applicant, argued that Glen Head and Glenwood Landing should be exempted from such amendments. According to Mr. Chase, his client's land is the last parcel available for development in the area, steep slope protections have nothing to do with environmental concerns and everything to do with density in relatively densely populated areas, and a reduction in the number of lots would bankrupt his client.

Mr. Chase said that these so-called facts should exempt his client—and all of Glen Head and Glenwood Landing—from the code changes being considered. The Civic Association disagrees with Mr. Chase on all points and so stated at the Town Board hearing.

Most incorporated villages surrounding Glen Head and Glenwood Landing have adopted similar measures as those being reviewed in TOB, making it imperative that Glen Head and Glenwood Landing follow suite to avoid becoming an even more appealing target for spot developers interested in the quickest and easiest buck possible.

For more information about the ZBA hearing, contact TOB (624-6232) and see Civic Spot postings Zoning Hearing Scheduled for Subdivision on Motts Cove Road in Glen Head, April 16; Adjournment Requested for Motts Cove Variance Hearing, April 24. Agenda changes are common, so be sure to check with TOB if you plan to attend the hearing. You may also write to the ZBA at 54 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, NY 11771.