Hempstead IDA approves Barnum Island tax breaks


The Town of Hempstead’s Industrial Development Agency voted on Thursday to approve tax breaks, including a 10-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement, for a proposed 86-unit luxury rental apartment on Barnum Island in Island Park. The vote was three for, and one against the deal, with one abstention.

The developer, John Vitale of Waterview LLC, had sought additional breaks in March after reaching a tentative tax relief deal with the agency in 2016. He argued that taxes had risen since the preliminary deal was made, making the project unfeasible under the original agreement.

On June 19, the board unveiled a revised tentative deal, granting Vitale additional breaks. That deal has now been ratified.

Speaking after the vote, IDA vice chairman and Lynbrook Mayor William Hendrick said the agency had reviewed a number of arguments — submitted to IDA board — for and against the agreement, and said he felt confident that members had enough information to make a well-informed decision. He wished Vitale luck in his endeavor, and said he hoped the project would bring new people and commercial opportunities to the area. In addition to the PILOTs, the deal includes a mortgage-recording tax abatement and a sales tax exemption.

Officials from the Island Park School District had previously raised concerns over the relief and how it might affect local taxpayers. They asked that the IDA understand the district’s perspective in light of ongoing tax certiorari proceedings with the Long Island Power Authority over its E.F. Barrett power plant located in Island Park, for which it is seeking a 90 percent reduction in property tax valuation. The plant accounts for nearly half of the district’s tax revenue. Michael Raniere, an attorney for the district, was present for the vote but did not speak. He appeared disappointed with the result.

Representing Island Park’s Business and Residential Chamber, resident Barbra Rubin-Perry argued in favor of Vitale, citing his previous work in revitalizing the village’s economy after Hurricane Sandy, and, countering the district’s arguments, said that after the conclusion of the PILOTs, Waterview would be paying for the results of LIPA’s tax grievance proceedings much like everyone else in the village.

IDA board members Hendrick, Steven Raiser and Eric Mallette voted in favor of the deal, with member John Ferretti voting against it. Board Chairman Arthur Nastre abstained, citing previous dealings with Vitale.

Peter Curry, an attorney for Vitale, said the deal was, “a long time coming” adding that his client was eager to get shovels in the ground.

“I’m very gratified we have been given this opportunity,” Vitale said after the vote. “It is well needed in Island Park.”