The following comments were prepared in response to the Town of Oyster Bay’s strategies to revitalize downtown Hicksville, presented on November 17, 2016. You can see the plan here.
My name is Richard Murdocco. I am the founder and publisher of The Foggiest Idea, and am land use columnist who writes professionally on regional real estate development issues. I am writing to share my perspective on the Town of Oyster Bay’s vision for Hicksville. I am a Syosset resident.
I respect the years of effort that have gone into this project, and I am optimistic that the hamlet will eventually find success in crafting a vision that is responsive to both local and regional needs. That being said, critically important issues remain unaddressed by both the Town and the involved vested stakeholders who crafted this strategy.
First, the Town must ensure there is a standardization of residential approvals in the proposed project area. Spot zonings and patchwork land use strategies will not help the area move forward in a unified manner. It would be worthwhile if the municipality pushes for stronger restrictions on residential growth in select areas.
Second, there is no mention of upgrading the area’s surrounding infrastructure (i.e. local roads) to accommodate the additional traffic that these projects will generate. While it’s important to nurture growth, we must ensure the community is able to absorb the impacts of development.
Third, is the large issue of addressing LIRR commuter parking. While I understand there may be the opportunity to build additional parking structures, it is important to ensure a solution is guaranteed to be in place before advocating for additional growth. Parking in the Hicksville area is a major problem, and any plan should address the issue and solve it outright.
Fourth, considering the political turmoil faced by the town, especially within the realm of municipal planning, it is critical that residents can trust that a project of this size and regional scope will be managed properly. At first glance, it seems as though the Town of Oyster Bay has contracted much of the responsibility to Vision Long Island, who often works closely with Long Island’s development community to craft their strategies. This effort must not become a developer-driven plan.
Lastly, Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia noted to Newsday that this effort will help keep young people in the area. Collectively through my work and research, I’ve found that mixed-use development doesn’t always meet that expectation. There must be incentives to keep rents “affordable” for working millennials, and are the incentives to ensure residents in these new developments commute by train.
Given prevalent commuter patterns in Nassau County, a large majority still rely upon their cars to get to work. The municipality and Vision Long Island must explore ways for this project do to get people out of their cars and onto the LIRR.
I look forward to seeing how this project evolves, and working with all involved to craft a realistic, data-driven strategy.