The following comments were formally submitted on February 25th, 2020 to elected officials and policymakers in the Town of Oyster Bay. Interested in supporting The Foggiest Idea’s award-winning reporting and analysis? Click here.
To Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Members of the Oyster Bay Town Board, and Mr. George Baptista –
My name is Richard Murdocco, and I am writing to submit public comments in regards to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Heritage Village, the mixed-use transit-oriented development that is proposed for the 26.4-acre former Sears property in Hicksville.
As part of the research process for its award-winning body of work on Long Island’s environmental and real estate development issues, The Foggiest Idea regularly reviews the policy actions taken by local, state, and federal governments that impact communities throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Due to both the size of the property and its location in a key area of Nassau County, this project should be considered regionally significant by policymakers.
With Heritage Village, Seritage’s mixed-use concept runs counter to the suburban developmental norms of the post-war period that have defined present-day Hicksville, which include an overreliance on large tracts of retail surrounded by acres of underutilized parking space, lack of neighborhood cohesion between residential areas and retail spaces, and limited rental opportunities near one of the region’s largest commuter hubs.
Given the site’s direct access to key state arterial highways NYS Routes 106/107, proximity to the LIRR, and its prior use as a fully-operational department store, traffic and other residual impacts from the proposed redevelopment should be reasonably absorbed by the immediate area’s existing transportation infrastructure.
Overall, Seritage’s concept is sound planning, but it is critical that the following actions be taken by the Town of Oyster Bay before final approval of the project is granted:
- Encourage developmental cohesion with other projects of regional significance. The Town of Oyster Bay must take a leadership role in ensuring that Seritage’s project complements other large-scale developmental efforts in the region, including those proposed at the Nassau Coliseum, as well as any changes slated for the vacant Cerro Wire site in Syosset.
- Ensure that prevalent prices/rents in the proposed apartments are affordable for the region’s young professionals. All too often, local municipalities approve increases in residential density based on the concept that said units will aid in retention of young professionals. These approvals are often given without firm safeguards that the new units are priced affordably, with the end-result being luxury pricing that runs counter to the goal of retention of young workers.
- Enhance connectivity with the LIRR station. Given the project’s immediate proximity to the LIRR, the Town of Oyster Bay should ensure that the applicant encourage residents to utilize mass transit through the provision of transportation shuttles to and from the station, as well as work with NYS DOT in order to guarantee that Routes 106/107 are pedestrian-friendly for those looking to walk from the new development to the Hicksville station. As you are well-aware, the Long Island Rail Road’s third track will boost the area’s connectivity and access with New York City. The effort, which includes other amenities including parking garages and the elimination of grade-crossings, terminates at the Hicksville station.
For too long, the hamlet of Hicksville has not had the proper opportunity to fully embrace its role as a regionally-significant commuter hub.
When paired with improvements being made as part of the MTA/LIRR’s Third Track effort, the benefits of Seritage’s proposal can serve as a critical piece of the complex puzzle that is the revitalization of “downtown” Hicksville. With some key leadership on the part of the Town of Oyster Bay, we can collectively capitalize on Hicksville’s centralized location and create a regional hub for the 21st century – and beyond.
The Foggiest Idea Inc.