The plans for transforming the Glen Cove waterfront took several steps forward last week as the funding mechanism was approved by both the Nassau County Legislature and the Glen Cove City School District, and the New York Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the City of Glen Cove in two lawsuits. The Glen Cove Board of Education voted on a two-part resolution on Thursday, Aug. 18, the final piece needed in the financing of the project. Superintendent Maria Rianna and trustee Alexander Juarez were both absent from the meeting.
“Tonight the board is being presented with a two-part resolution,” said Christopher Venator, the board’s attorney. “The PILOT payments to the school district identified in Schedule A deviate from the typical allocation of payments that would otherwise be received by the school district. In order for the PILOT payments to be allocated as proposed, consent is required from all taxing jurisdictions, including the school district.”
Additionally, the board was presented with an impact and supplemental fee agreement, which was created based upon concerns raised by the board to RXR Glen Isle Partners, LLC, the project developer.
Under the agreement, the developer will cover a portion of any potential shortfall if new pupils generated by the project turn out to be higher than projected, and will provide annual notice to the school district of the payments to be received for the next fiscal year. RXR has also agreed to establish an educational program at the project’s site, working with the school district to assist in programming; the developer will make an initial payment of $50,000 in July 2018, followed by annual payments of $10,000 through the term of the PILOT.
Additionally, the developer will establish a scholarship program for college-bound seniors in the Glen Cove School District.
In a vote of 5 to 1, the resolution passed, with trustee Maria Venuto opposed.
Under the financing plan, bonds issued by the city’s Industrial Development Agency will be repaid with future incremental tax revenues generated from the project. The bonds are “non-recourse” to the city or its agency, which means that city is not liable in any way for repayment of the bonds. Where the board would otherwise get 62 percent of a normal revenue stream, it agreed to take 53 percent of the revenue over 40 years. The bonds will fund the public amenities portion of the project, which is planned to be completed during phase one and includes about 28 acres of parks, playgrounds, an esplanade, a marina and an amphitheater. The schools are expected to receive $292 million during the term of the bond; the first payment is scheduled for 2017 and estimated at $250,000.
Before taking public comments, board president Amy Franklin asked those in the audience to remember that the board members are volunteers and are all Glen Cove residents who want the best for our schools.
“Some people will be supportive and some will not,” said Franklin. “But afterward, we will still be Glen Cove community members.”
Drew Lawrence addressed the board first, noting his opposition to the way the project is funded.
“If this supplemental agreement should come short, as I anticipate it to, the supplemental funds being offered to the school district still would not be enough to educate the children in the school district,” said Lawrence.
“With an emphatic yes vote, we are going to set the stage for a unique opportunity to address educational services and programs for the children of this district, while in tandem stabilizing our taxes,” said Zefy Christopolous. “We have the opportunity to have funding now that, in past years, we have had to scramble for.”
Smithtown resident Scott Adrian, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 138 of Nassau and Suffolk said, “We are 100 percent behind this project. It’s going to give us hundreds and hundreds of jobs.”
“RXR stepped up to the plate and this is a good deal,” Mayor Reggie Spinello told the board, referring to the supplemental agreement.
Several residents said they did not believe the number of 56 projected students could be accurate; Michael Zarin, special counsel for the city on the project, said the numbers are “credible, rational numbers,” based on information of the current trend in the community. He also explained the reason for the developer needing bonds for financing.
“This is a progressive financing tool,” said Zarin. “Most municipalities do the traditional PILOTS for projects like this. This money is going to building the public amenities. If the project does not proceed due to delay in construction, there’s no children. But you still get tax dollars starting in year one.”
Also last week the New York State Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the City of Glen Cove, its agencies and boards and RXR Glen Isle Partners LLC and its associated companies. The Article 78 cases were brought against the city and RXR by the Village of Sea Cliff, Mayor Bruce Kennedy and a small group of residents of Sea Cliff, Glen Cove and surrounding areas. The lawsuits focused on annulling the Glen Cove Planning Board’s Environmental Review of the project pursuant to SEQRA.
“The court determined that the plaintiff utterly failed to establish a claim as a matter of law,” said Charles McQuair, Glen Cove City Attorney.
“I thank the New York State Supreme Court for their ruling as it validated the fact that these lawsuits had no merit and that the city and its agencies were in complete compliance with the necessary procedures and protocols,” said Spinello. “Unfortunately, the price of fighting these types of nonsense lawsuits falls upon our taxpayers and I am happy to put these cases behind us as we continue to make important strides to reclaiming Glen Cove’s waterfront for its economic, housing and recreational benefits.”