Island Park residents worry apartments will block views, worsen traffic

Residents Jim Smith, left, and Stweart Wurtzel talk Residents Jim Smith, left, and Stweart Wurtzel talk to board attorney David Rosenberg on the waterfront property near the Yacht Club in Island Park on Aug. 6, 2014. The board of the residential complex is opposing a proposed development across the street. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

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Residents of The Yacht Club condominium complex in Island Park are fighting a proposed 86-unit apartment complex that they say would create a logjam of parking and traffic, and would also obstruct their waterfront views.

But the Island Park developer, John Vitale of WaterView Land Development LLC, told the Hempstead Town Board recently that the estimated $18 million project of 86 luxury apartment rentals meets codes and would not cause any traffic delays, based on a study presented to the town last month.

The property at Pettit Place and Waterview Road is zoned as industrial and would require a residential zoning change for the apartments to be built. Paddy McGee's and Coyote Grill restaurants had been on the 21/2-acre site, but neither reopened after being damaged by superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

The town has no scheduled action on the project, which can either be slated for a vote or resubmitted with altered plans.

Vitale said Thursday that he has presented alternative plans to the Yacht Club board to address the issue of obstructed views.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Island Park and it's much more beneficial for everyone than the industrial site," he said.

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The site is next to The Yacht Club Condominium, which has 128 residents. The Yacht Club has hired an attorney, David Rosenberg of Garden City, to challenge the development and meet with Vitale to attempt to compromise on a smaller project.

Residents have had several meetings with Vitale to discuss possible changes and resident concerns, Rosenberg said.

"Between the view and density on the property line, it would create a major impact on the residents who currently live there," Rosenberg said of the proposed apartment development.

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Supporters of the project said the luxury apartments will be a boost to Island Park's economy and attract young professionals or retirees to invest and spend in the community.

During a January presentation to the Island Park Chamber of Commerce, Vitale said the rents would range from $1,800 to $2,800. The development was endorsed by the chamber board.

Chamber president Glenn Ingoglia said the apartment development would draw residents to Island Park and help the community rebuild.

"About 20 percent of people have not returned to their homes nearly two years after Sandy," Ingoglia said. "We hope residents will fall in love with the area and eventually buy. It serves as a mechanism for attracting people here who may stay permanently."

Yacht Club president Stewart Wurtzel said condo residents support a residential project on the property, but not at the density Vitale is proposing.

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"We're talking about the size and scope of a project not designed for that area," Wurtzel said.

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