Editor's note: A previous version of the story erroneously said the complex would generate $50,000 in property taxes when it will create $500,000. We regret the error.
After months of anticipation, a developer who has proposed building a 200-unit apartment complex and parking garage in downtown Lynbrook met with residents for the first time on Monday night. Some attendees supported the plan, while others denounced it.
More than 100 residents turned out at the Elks Lodge on Hempstead Avenue to learn about the proposal during a two-hour open house led by Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties. Residents had the chance to ask questions, voice concerns and browse several informational stations. Just outside the entrance, about a half-dozen residents gathered petition signatures of people who oppose the project. They said they plan to present the petition to the village board.
Members of the Lynbrook Community Alliance, which formed about two years ago when a gun range was proposed in the village, put the petition online. The group generated enough opposition to block the plan, and group members said they hoped this petition would have the same result this time around.
“This is just going to ruin our village,” one protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said of the proposal. “It’s going to ruin it, it really is. It’s going to drive people out of here.”
The opposer added that the proposed complex would benefit businesses, but not residents. They also noted that the area is often snarled with traffic, and the problem would only be exacerbated by an influx of new apartment dwellers.
Resident Mike Davies offered a different perspective, saying the project would help the downtown business district. “I’m for this because I think this is going to be a great shot in the arm for our downtown core and for Lynbrook as a whole,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
The complex is to be called the Cornerstone at Lynbrook, and would be built on the southwest corner of Earle Avenue and St. James Place, in the village’s downtown cultural arts district. The two-acre parcel of land is now a parking lot, used mostly by employees of village businesses, and extends to 14 St. James Place, the site of a law office. In exchange for permission to build the complex, developer Anthony Bartone has offered to fund and construct a $10 million, 400-space parking garage at Broadway and Langdon Place.
On Monday, Bartone spoke with many residents, some of whom calmly expressed their concerns and asked questions, some of whom voiced their support, and some of whom were passionate in their opposition. Bartone acknowledged that there is some opposition to the project, but said the petition had about 200 signatures as of Monday, and there are more than 19,000 residents in Lynbrook.
“What’s most disappointing about the petition, and I’m not sure that people realize, is it’s riddled with misinformation — factually inaccurate information,” Bartone said. “And that’s what’s most disappointing. If people were looking to put a petition out there, that’s their right. We would never stifle that, but it really should be based in fact.”
Alan Pawelsky said he signed the petition for many reasons, including that village officials did not initiate a bidding process for the project.
“We have an online petition, we’re ringing doorbells, and we’re going to get a lot of signatures to come out against this,” Pawelsky said, “and we’ll see if our elected officials listen to us, because you really should be listening to your constituents. We’re going to prove that a lot of people in Lynbrook are against this project.”
Mayor Alan Beach and the board of trustees did not attend Monday’s open house.
Richard Ezagui said he was upset about how large the complex would be. “When we moved here, every board said buildings like this are two stories, and they believed in a height requirement to keep the look of the village,” he said. “Nassau County is a community for families and schools and everything, and now you want to put up these monstrosities.”
Lynbrook resident Harold Reese, president of the Harrontine Realty Corp., said he favored the project. “I think it’s a great opportunity to expand the village tax base,” he said. “I think it’s a no-brainer when a corporation comes into the town and says they’re going to put up a parking garage for $10 million. How can you say no?” The Chamber of Commerce also unanimously backed the project.
Bartone said he thought residents’ reactions were “overwhelmingly positive,” and noted that he was pleased that so many people came out to learn about the project.
Bartone said that multi-tiered parking is the only solution to solving Lynbrook’s parking woes. He added that he believed residents of the complex would not add to the traffic issue because they would be in walking distance to downtown shops, the movie theater and Long Island Rail Road station.
The next village board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5, and Bartone is expected to present his ideas at a Nov. 19 hearing. The hearing has been delayed many times, but Bartone said that was a good thing, because it offered developers a chance to host the open house.