In a move aimed at revitalizing Glen Head’s downtown area and supporting local businesses hit hard by the pandemic, the Town of Oyster Bay is in the process of purchasing an empty lot at 2 Walnut St. While some members of the business community have expressed support for the project, the move has left some residents of the North Shore School District concerned that the purchase may affect their district taxes.
According to Brian Nevin, public information officer for the town, the initiative stems from the expressed need for additional parking from downtown business owners. Recognizing the economic challenges and the imperative to bolster downtown businesses post-coronavirus pandemic, the town sees the acquisition of this lot as a strategic move to support and sustain the vibrancy of the local economy.
“Business owners in the downtown expressed the need for additional parking near their shops,” Nevin said, “and with the economy the way it is and the need to support downtown businesses, especially after Covid, we felt it made sense to purchase this lot to help support the downtown and keep it vibrant.”
The town has entered into eminent domain proceedings, having conducted an appraisal on the property. Nevin explained that the property owner’s asking price exceeded the appraisal value, a common challenge in such proceedings. The resolution, he said, lies in presenting both appraisals to a judge, who will then make a fair determination.
As discussions and evaluations continue, the town aims to provide additional parking spaces for downtown businesses, contributing to the area’s overall appeal. Nevin mentioned that the specific number of parking spots is still under consideration but hinted at a potential 30 spots in the new lot.
He also addressed concerns raised by some in the community, including the potential impact on school district taxes. Contrary to misconceptions, he clarified that the shift from private to municipal ownership does not burden homeowners. In this case, being a commercial property, the tax burden remains within the commercial base, sparing homeowners from any additional costs.
Michael Ricciardi, owner of Sea Breeze Deli in Glen Head, right across the street from the empty lot, was one of the business owners who first spoke to town representatives about doing something with the property. Ricciardi’s deli has been in Glen Head for over 35 years, and he said that throughout the entire time parking has been a serious issue for local businesses.
“When people can’t find easy parking they drive right past the local businesses,” Ricciardi said. “We have to think about the businesspeople too and know what they need.”
Chris Zublionis, superintendent for the North Shore School District, said that while the school district had not been closely following the proceedings, they were aware of the town’s plans to purchase the property. He said that from what he know the district could face a potential loss of around $10,000 in annual tax revenue from the property, which would be spread to other commercial properties in the district, but not to homeowners.
Zublionis also stressed the district’s commitment to adapting to changes, mentioning a willingness to review the budget and make necessary adjustments. He added that the district also hoped the town and local government would promote more residential development as well to help spread out the tax burden among district residents.
“One thing we’ll try to do is look at our budget and try to modify the budget by that amount,” Zublionis said. “But really, we want more residential development here. People want to live here. They’re buying homes at record rates.”
Dr. Andrea Maccari, the president of the North Shore Board of Education, wrote in a statement that “It is always good for abandoned land to be put to use,” and that as a resident, she was glad to hear the town had plans for the property. Despite this, she did express some concern with the project, as the district is currently in tight financial situation following the closing of their deal with the Long Island Power Authority last year.
“Municipalities across this country have often found creative ways to enhance their communities through redevelopment,” Maccari wrote. “But as the school board president, I worry about how any land sale in our community impacts our tax base.”