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Oyster Bay councilman: To 'like' one is not to dislike another

Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony Macagnone (July 7,

Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony Macagnone (July 7, 2011) (Credit: James Carbone)

When it comes to the Aug. 20 referendum on selling the Oyster Bay public works complex in Syosset -- and what that might mean for long-delayed plans to build a mall on the adjacent Cerro Wire property -- veteran town Councilman Anthony Macagnone is straddling the fence.

The Syosset Republican’s friends on Facebook noted that he has “liked” two conflicting pages.

One was created by the Cerro Wire Coalition, which supports the $32.5 million land sale, primarily because it would hamper Taubman Centers Inc.’s 18-year, so-far-unsuccessful effort to build a mall next door.

The other page was created by Long Island Jobs Now, a group formed by Taubman to push for the mall and oppose the land sale because the company wants to buy the public works site to make its mall proposal more palatable or at least more defensible in court.

Macagnone, who was elected in 1999 as a Democrat and then switched parties, says he’s not being wishy-washy. It’s just that he supports the land sale and the mall.

“I do like selling the property,” Macagnone explained. “I’m on the town board and I have to do what’s in the best interests of the town.” That means getting the $32.5 million from Oyster Bay Realty LLC, whose partners include Long Island mall owner Simon Properties, to bolster the town’s sagging finances.

But he added the sale “has nothing to do with the mall or not the mall.” And he supports the mall because of his other position: Long Island representative for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. As a union official, he wants the jobs that a mall would bring -- if it is ever constructed.

“I do like Long Island Jobs because we need jobs on Long Island,” he said. “If we sell the property, that doesn’t mean the mall is dead.”

But most observers think it will either get Taubman to give up or at least make its chances of success even slimmer.

Macagnone's hometown was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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