About 200 people attended an event held by the Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront on Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Metropolitan Bistro in Sea Cliff intended to provide information to North Shore residents about the extent of the proposed Garvies Point project.
“We are trying to bring awareness to the community about what’s actually going on,” said Roger Friedman, president of the committee and one of the event’s organizers. “People are aware that the project is happening, but they don’t really know the details.”
Various members of the group spoke to a packed house, giving an update on what aspects of the development have been approved and the status on the lawsuits.
“We oppose this development plan because it is too big; it will add too many people, too much traffic and too much pollution. Some of the parcels contain toxins that have still not been remediated,” said Friedman. “It is completely out of character with the North Shore landscape and will forever alter the quality of life in our area. In my mind it will be the demise of Sea Cliff.”
Friedman moved to Sea Cliff in 2012 and first learned about the extent of the project last June. That’s when he decided to get involved.
“From our analysis, the numbers don’t add up,” said Friedman. “It has become abundantly clear to me, and to every member of our committee, after reading through the public record, that the only collective recourse we have now is the courts.”
Following a PowerPoint presentation, Flip Pidot spoke to the crowd about the financial aspect and how the project is meant to be financed.
“Glen Cove is relying on Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a complex form of off-balance sheet financing, decried in places like Chicago (a TIF power user) as the ‘shadow budget’ and a financing vehicle now banned in California, which actually invented it,” said Pidot. “The debt service on this financing will be paid by excess tax revenue from the project (if any). So, any excess revenue could be used up by debt service, potentially leaving no net gain for the city, at best, and a severe revenue drain at worst.”
He added: “If the city is downgraded to junk status, the waterfront could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
“If the city pulls out, they owe money to RXR,” Marion said. “They can push back a little, in terms of trying to meet some of the concerns raised by residents, but they have no leverage to push back a lot.”
She said the city has not done its due diligence in containing the scope of this project over the years and said that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) report from Sept. 30, 2015, revealed soil contamination on some of the parcels on the project site, resulting in the need for additional testing.
She said that, while the City of Glen Cove Planning Board represented to the public in its resolution approving the Special Permit on Oct. 6, 2015, that these contaminated parcels of property will be undergoing “the final environmental remediation” clean up, the plan for clean up for these parcels has, in fact, not yet been determined.
“The EPA states in its report that the City of Glen Cove has still not implemented procedures identified to the city by the EPA in its’ 2010 Five-Year Review which were known to have soil contamination remaining, or ‘red flag’ areas,” said Marion. “The EPA is only now evaluating how to best address the red flag areas which are present on this property.”
According to Friedman, the lawsuit seeks to have the special permit that was issued by the City of Glen Cove Planning Board declared void by a court.
“If we are successful, the city will have to go through the entire process again of trying to get the Waterfront Project approved,” said Friedman. “In the alternative, we’re asking the court to require the City of Glen Cove to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement which would require the city to prepare updated environmental studies, visual impact studies, traffic studies, noise studies and all necessary studies evaluating the potential adverse impacts of the Waterfront Project development and construction.”
The result of the lawsuits could stall the project in the courts and Marion and Pidot said this could give the city an out and allow them to get out of the project, since they would have no money to give to RXR. They said RXR could yield on several variables to make it more equitable.
“We are literally fighting City Hall,” said Friedman. “All the things we’re saying have been said since 2000, but people can’t afford the lawsuits to keep up the fight.”
They also explained the Village of Sea Cliff’s lawsuit, which primarily seeks to have the Waterfront Project declared void based upon the City of Glen Cove’s failure to abide by a Memorandum of Understanding between various communities, including Sea Cliff, which established certain parameters for the development of City of Glen Cove’s Waterfront project.
The rally was also a fundraiser for those interested in supporting their fight through the lawsuits. The committee encouraged people to get involved by contacting local officials and are mobilizing for future community gatherings to spread the word.
“At this point in time, we believe that this litigation is the only way to stop this development from moving forward,” said Friedman. “Our goal is to prevail in the courts so that we can reset the clock, and win a voice in the planning of any future development for the people of Glen Cove, Sea Cliff, and all of the surrounding communities.”
Since litigation is “exceedingly costly” and the developer (RXR) is a $7 billion company, the group is trying to raise $250,000 to cover the cost of litigation,expert testimony, filing fees, legal assistance and other support needed.
To donate or learn more, visit www.sustainablewaterfront.org.
“We are not against development, just over development,” said Pidot. “We need a plan that makes sense not just for the developer, but for all of the current and future residents of our communities.”