Nassau IDA won't act on Bristal tax request

The Bristal Assisted Living at Westbury is pictured. The Bristal Assisted Living at Westbury is pictured. (Nov. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency said it will not consider a developer's plan to buy a nursing home in Westbury and request a 10-year extension of the facility's tax abatement agreement.

The IDA board was scheduled to make a decision about The Bristal Assisted Living facility during a meeting this Wednesday, but IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney said in an interview, "It's not going to be brought to the board for decision in its present form."

At a public hearing last month, nearly 100 residents registered their dissent over the developer's plans. Democrat and Republican lawmakers on the local, county and state level also objected.

Two separate proposals, for facilities in North Hills and Massapequa, would not be considered, Kearney added. There are seven Bristal facilities on Long Island.

Lawmakers have argued that Bristal has had 13 years of tax abatements with at least three years left on its payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, and that a 10-year extension is unnecessary. That could deprive the community of nearly $7 million over the next 10 years, officials said.

Kearney said the IDA considered the loss in tax revenue against the developer's promise to upgrade facilities and create three new jobs.

"Weighing both issues, the scales did not tip favorably in either direction," said Kearney, adding that in such circumstances, "The IDA doesn't deal in neutrality."

The developer insists the deal is not dead. Steven Krieger, of Garden City-based The Engel Burman Group, said he was told the vote was merely postponed.

"It wasn't denied," he said. "We have ongoing discussions with the IDA."

Engel Burman can present the IDA with a new proposal, Kearney said. Company representatives met last week with Kearney and legislators, according to officials who attended the meeting. Kearney called the conversation "fruitful."

Since the November public hearing, the IDA board has twice delayed discussion of the proposal at its meetings, which local lawmakers had urged residents to attend in droves.

Lawmakers said residents signed more than 1,000 letters of dissent, which were presented to the IDA.

"There was a reverse Robin Hood effect here, where the poor were being taken to give to the rich," said Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury). "The people saw that, reacted to it, and stopped it in its track."

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro called the decision a victory for taxpayers, many of whom said at the hearing that they struggled to keep pace amid high tax increases.

"It's a tremendous achievement for the community," he said. "The community spoke very loudly, and the right results occurred."

Kearney said the community's opposition played no role in the IDA's decisions.

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