The 90-year-old Lawrence Association, hosted the less than two-year-old Five Towns Civic Association at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club on Feb. 21.
For the past several months the Lawrence Association has not met and served its usual role as a voice for village residents. Behind Paris Popack and several other community members, the group has returned.
“I’m hosting tonight’s community meeting to revive the Lawrence Association that addresses pressing issues for Lawrence residents,” Popack said. “In the coming weeks as we organize and establish officers, we will meet again on March 21.”
The Five Towns Civic Association formed roughly 18 months ago as resident concerns grew after learning the 110-acre Woodmere Club would be sold and possibly developed for residential use. Increased traffic congestion, the environmental impact and loss of quality of life top the list.
Weiss Properties and 2020 Acquisitions purchased the property last year. Efrem Gerszberg, a 2020 principal, confirmed the $9.042 million cash purchase price. He said the firms do not have a mortgage or debt. No building plans have yet to be proposed.
The companies’ officials have said that they will keep the club open for another four years, pay down its debt and begin developing the property in 2022. Most of the land is in the hamlet of Woodmere, and is zoned Residence B. The Town of Hempstead’s zoning allows single-family detached homes, senior residence housing, agriculture and nursery uses — provided that there are no commercial displays or advertisements on the premises, or municipal recreational use.
In explaining the issue to the roughly 65 people who sat in the ballroom of the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club, Popack said it is time for people to be involved. “The Woodmere Club has been sold to developers who want to build hundreds of homes and destroy our green open spaces. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Once this land is developed there will be irreversible damage to our quality of life here in our beautiful Five Towns.”
Mario Joseph, a Woodsburgh resident, who is co-president of the Five Towns Civic Association addressed the issues surrounding the Woodmere Club and needing people to volunteer and financially support the group.
“After work, in lieu of time spent with our families, we do this,” said Joseph, a Manhattan-based matrimonial lawyer. “My job is no less demanding than yours, my day no less hectic than yours. Somehow I’m finding the time to give back to the community.”
Joseph recounted the past 18 months of news, including the Town of Hempstead implementing a temporary building moratorium on all privately-owned golf course in the town in November of 2016. Last month, the town board extended the ban another 90 days. He said the town was considering up zoning the land from 60 x 100 to 1-acre lots.
Town officials did not comment on that, but a study is being conducted. “At the request the request of Council [Bruce] Blakeman and Councilman [Anthony] D’Esposito, we initiated a study being done by Cameron Engineering of all the privately-owned golf courses across the town,” spokeswoman Susan Trenkle Pokalsky said. “We are looking to protect the quality of life in the state’s largest township and in the Five Towns.”
Gerszberg reiterated that the civic group has never contacted them about any project. “We have stated numerous times that our plan is to build luxury single-family homes at the Woodmere Club,” he said. “A project that is consistent with the current zoning and character of the surrounding homes.”