Letters To The Editor

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Lack Of Bus Shelters

Saturday late afternoon, as the rain was starting, my husband and I stopped to give a ride down Searingtown Road to someone’s housekeeper going down to Northern Boulevard on her way to Great Neck, New York City and onto Brooklyn.
I asked if there were bus shelters at her corner. When she told me there were none and also very few along her bus route, we questioned why that was.
In front of one of the highest end shopping destinations, where all kinds of workers must come, there is no protection in inclement weather or on blistering hot days for these workers.

Can’t our town or our county come up with methods to finance bus shelters for these workers without whom many businesses and homes would be bereft? Give incentives to businesses to finance these needed shelters. Let’s start to consider those we all need behind the scenes of our lives.
—Janet de Winter

Election Signs A Problem

They have started popping up in Bayview already—in July.

One (Phillips, a Manhasset “neighbor”) is in the ground on LIRR property by the high school at Manhasset Avenue. Wouldn’t it be nice and even appreciated if candidates would place them in strictly proper places (Judi Bosworth, for one, has gone out of her way to respect our wishes over the years). When candidates’ signs appear on government property, does that raise an ethical concern in the campaign about how they will act if elected? If the campaign staff is blamed, does that mean there should be concerns about candidates’ abilities to manage their staffs if elected? If placed at Deadman’s curve, etc., do they care about safety?

Three-plus months to go.

—John Minogue

Response To Letter

Stephen Herdemian’s letter last week included Twitter-like jabs on the process that led to the ugly modern Citibank branch near the Christ Episcopal Church and the looming new TD bank proposal for Plandome Rd at Northern Blvd. I’m taking this opportunity to encourage Stephen and all readers to view the documents available on the Greater Council’s website at www.manhassetcivic.org. On the “Projects” tab, near the top of list, you’ll find documents on the TD Bank designs as well as a related commentary, “Citibank vs. TD Bank Building Design

—Why are circumstances so different?” I further invite the Press to publish it as an article in its entirety to help advance our community’s awareness… residents, community leaders, landlords and merchants.

 

Citibank vs. TD Bank Building Design—Why are circumstances so different?

In 2008, Christ Episcopal Church began the process to sell its adjacent Parish House that had initially been built as a school, but was never actually used as a school. The need to sell was to sustain the church and parish itself. The church initially proposed a multi-level housing complex that was widely rejected by the community and neighboring homes which convinced the town to not approve that plan and zoning change. The pastor worked tirelessly with community groups and developers for several years on alternatives acceptable to the community. Most proposals involved demolishing the Parish House structure that had fallen victim to years of deferred maintenance. Housing development proposals were plentiful but had all been undesirable to the community. The developer (M. Puntillo) then proposed a way to save and totally renovate the Parish House building into small professional offices and a child care facility. Since rents of internal Parish House tenants were projected to be insufficient to cover the needed restoration loan, the plan required building an adjacent structure on the property whose commercial lease would provide the additional funds needed to sustain the costly total renovation /restoration of the beautiful Gothic-style Parish House building. At that time, and after rejecting most retail type tenants, the only willing tenant was Citibank, which sought to relocate from its former Macy’s shopping center location. Citibank had a single “design” used at all its newest, free-standing new construction. Citibank flatly refused to negotiate its design in a “take it as designed, or leave” position. Most involved parties had the common goal to save this historical structure in our community. At about the same time, the Manhasset community had just “lost forever” the historic Inisfada (St. Ignatius Retreat House) battle that resulted in the demolition of the historic Gold Coast-era mansion to make way for yet another planned, gated housing development.

Unfortunately, the Inisfada sale to Hong Kong developers was a process totally under the jurisdiction of the Inc. Village of North Hills, and the residents’ outcry to save that building fell upon deaf ears. Thus, the community’s input to the town process at the Christ Church Parish House site ended up supporting the plan that saved and restored the grand Parish House building, but necessitated accepting Citibank’s very modern-style building on the Parish House site which opened in 2014.

A few years later now in 2016 and a few blocks west at Plandome Rd/ 25A, TD Bank initially proposed a similar to Citibank’s very modern design structure, but met with community civic leaders before initiating the town process. TD’s modern design was initially totally rejected by community civic leaders. However, the two key differences are that the TD bank site has no such historical structure, and that TD Bank remained in discussions with the community to achieve a more acceptable building design that now includes more colonial-style elements and better fits the community desires for this “entrance gateway” property along our downtown.

Of course, we can all sit back and question whether Manhasset really needs another bank (most agree we do not), but there is no law that prevents a bank on commercial-zoned property. It’s obvious there is wealth in and around Manhasset and banks desire to be near wealth. Whether the Town can or should have an architectural review process in its building code and approval process (which would need to cover the entire town from the Queens border to the Westbury), can indeed be debated, but the fact remains that there is no such process. Solutions involving municipal process changes are generally impractical to ever be enacted since they frequently involve either increased regulation and/or additional taxation [and are] thus not popular to most residents. Such requirements are commonly adopted within much smaller areas such as incorporated villages or business improvement districts that can set stricter rules and have independent taxing authority. While Manhasset-area building owners can’t be forced into such colonial facade design elements by law, we do already see fruits of our labor—“voluntary” changes—Colonial-type shutters on several buildings already appearing.

All in all, while it’s not the perfect architectural design, akin to the nearby Apple Bank and Chase’s Munsey Park bank building designs, it’s far better than the modern design TD Bank initially proposed. Amidst all these factors, the Greater Council continues to encourage voluntary cooperation by owners/tenants towards planning more Colonial-style elements throughout our downtown commercial area buildings.

—Rich Bentley, President Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations

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