Waterfront: What The Opponents Don’t Know

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More than two decades ago, long before I was mayor, the City of Glen Cove put an ambitious multi-million dollar plan in place to restore the toxic dump of the Superfund Site known as Garvies Point—our waterfront—to a habitable and productive use. After more than 20 years of effort, at a cost of $100 million, Garvies Point is ready to be restored to our tax rolls as a world-class residential, commercial and parkland area 56 acres in size, more than 27 of which will be for public use and enjoyment. It’s been a remarkable and highly successful journey bringing this former contaminated area back to life.

From the very beginning, the restoration of this property has had its opponents, a small number of folks in the City of Glen Cove and surrounding communities who simply didn’t and don’t like the idea of any kind of progress other than the development of a parkland. What they never appreciated, of course, was that the City of Glen Cove had zero financial ability to spend or borrow enough money to make even a dent in the toxic waste cleanup, nor could it ever find a developer to build a non-income producing park for residents at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Reginald Spinello
Reginald Spinello, Mayor of the City of Glen Cove

So the choice was to either leave the poisonous chemicals in the ground undisturbed by human activity or clean up the contamination and develop the area in a way that would justify the expenditure required to reverse decades of unlawful chemical spills by factories now long gone and unreachable.

Prior city administrations elected to make a commitment to move forward to redevelop Garvies Point in a manner best thought to serve the needs of our community and improve our quality of life, not just at the waterfront, but for all of the city’s residents. The objective has always been to use a significant piece of the space for outdoor activities that everyone in Glen Cove and our surrounding communities can enjoy.

Some may have noticed—particularly on the Sea Cliff side—that signs have started to appear in opposition to the redevelopment of Garvies Point that has been in the planning for so many years. The opponents are spreading the word that buildings will be too tall, increased traffic will be too intrusive and generally, the North Shore of Long Island will be adversely affected so dramatically that Glen Cove will become Queens and our way of life will be histrionically changed forever.

To date, opponents have launched at least two lawsuits against the city—suits that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. While they espouse all kinds of bogus and speculative theories on how the re-establishment of the Garvies Point property to productive use will permanently damage our quality of life, here’s what they are not telling their supporters and the public at large:

• If the revitalization program is delayed or prevented from going forward, 20 years of time invested and more than $20 million in funds invested by the city will be lost.

• Glen Cove will immediately be obligated to pay back $7 million in outstanding loans to the county, which were used to clean up the toxic chemicals.

• The city’s 2016 budget will immediately have a deficit of between $4 and $5 million.

• These loan repayment obligations, coupled with the 2016 budget deficit, will require a reduction in services in 2017 and a need to either borrow $12 million or raise property taxes by 40 percent.

• The federal and state governments may likely seek reimbursements of some or all of the millions of dollars they invested in helping to clean up Garvies Point.

• Over the next 40 years, the city, school, county and library will lose $500 million in tax and other revenues that are now projected to be received from the restored waterfront.

The current city administration did not start the revival of the waterfront, but we are presented with the obligation of finishing what has been started, and finishing it in the best, most community-friendly way we can. And that’s what we’ve been doing since we were elected to office.

If we accomplish a successful outcome to this project that has been in the works for a score of years, here’s what can be expected:

• Glen Cove will receive $15 million immediately when the property is turned over to the developer.

• $7 million of debt will be used to discharge the city’s obligations to Nassau County.

• Glen Cove agencies will receive fees of $10 million for providing financial assistance in connection with the waterfront redevelopment.

• The financial benefits to the city will stabilize real property taxes in Glen Cove, improve the city’s credit rating, lower the cost of borrowing and eliminate the need for persistent short-term cash borrowing to run the city’s operations.

• Home values will increase and Glen Cove businesses will expand.

• Glen Cove will be transformed, but not in a way that the opponents claim. It will become a center of commerce over the next 10 years and its economy will expand dramatically—a win, win, win result for the city and all of its residents.

So before joining the forces of negativity which seek to move Glen Cove backward, consider all of the good that will come from the 20-year effort that it has taken to bring this waterfront redevelopment project to the cusp of final success.

I heartily applaud every mayor who came before me and helped bring about this day. I, along with all of our city’s residents, will be the beneficiary of their hard work, perseverance and forward thinking. I respect the opponents, but they’re just wrong.

Submitted by Mayor Reginald Spinello

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