North Hempstead Town officials have criticized an agreement allowing a Land Rover dealership to store cars at the town golf course in Port Washington for $1 per day per vehicle.
Calling it a lost opportunity to increase revenue at the struggling Harbor Links course, officials questioned whether a luxury car dealership should pay a rate similar to school districts that store bus fleets at town parks.
The town has struggled to restrict cars, vans and buses from being stored in public parks. Amid criticism from parks advocates, town officials said in 2014 that they would end vehicle-storage contracts with schools and a Roslyn day camp. But the town has since allowed some exceptions to accommodate school districts.
Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said the fee for the dealership should be much higher than those charged to school districts.
“I don’t know that a for-profit business should be paying the same rate,” she said at a Jan. 26 town board meeting, where the agreement was approved 7-0.
The agreement was reached late last year between the golf course operator, Arnold Palmer Golf Management of Dallas, and Land Rover Glen Cove after consulting with the town attorney. But town board members were not part of the decision. The Land Rover contract runs through March 15. No vehicles have yet been moved to the golf course, but Land Rover paid about $3,000 for January.
North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said officials from Harbor Links “can’t enter into an agreement on their own.”
Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said “the agreement should have gone before the Town Board before the rental started, however, it did not, perhaps because it came up over the holidays. “We have taken the appropriate steps to assure that this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
The criticism comes as the town finalizes an audit of golf course operations that started early last year.
Officials called for the audit after the course, the third largest source of revenue for the town, missed its 2014 revenue projection of $7.3 million by $650,000. The audit is expected to be released in several weeks, according to Deputy Supervisor Aline Khatchadourian. The course also missed its revenue projection in 2015, ending the year $215,000 short.
Parks advocates have criticized the town’s past arrangements with the Manhasset School District and Pierce Day Camp, of Roslyn, to park buses at North Hempstead Beach Park.
Town officials said in 2014 they would end those contracts as they seek to redevelop the park. But at the Jan. 26 meeting, the board agreed to allow Manhasset buses to be parked there through August 31, an eight-month extension, and the town allowed the Roslyn School District to park buses there for a limited time last year.
“It’s not the purpose of a park,” Bruce Piel, chairman of the Park Advocacy and Recreation Council of Nassau, said of the vehicle storage. He added that a parking lot in a public facility should be for patrons and not “for businesses that have outgrown their lots.”
Oyster Bay and Hempstead towns do not have any agreements or contracts allowing vehicles to be stored at public parks.
In 2013, Nassau County officials revoked a permit for Westbury Jeep to store vehicles at Cantiague Park in Hicksville after parks advocates complained. The agreement called for the owner to pay $4,000 a month to the county and $500 a month to a nonprofit parks department affiliate, Friends of Nassau Recreation.
Some parks advocates say the state must approve using public parkland for non-park purposes. But Trottere said the town does not need state legislative permission. “The temporary rental of park parking space during the winter months when a recreational facility is otherwise closed is not an alienation of park land,” she said.
In 2006, an Acura dealership parked cars at the former Bar Beach, now North Hempstead Beach Park, in Port Washington.