Nearly a decade after the Roslyn Country Club in Roslyn Heights was shuttered, prompting scores of lawsuits from the neighborhood’s residents, a court date has been set.
A lawsuit filed by a resident will be heard in a jury trial in Nassau County Supreme Court on Sept. 13, nearly 18 months after a judge ordered residents to either go to trial or have their cases dismissed. There are about 700 homes in the neighborhood.
The country club, equipped with a pool, tennis court, playground and dining facilities, closed in 2007 after its new owner, Manouchehr Malekan of Corona Realty Holdings LLC, unsuccessfully sued residents in an attempt to extinguish easement rights dating to 1959 granting use of the facilities for a $150 annual fee.
Nearly 400 residents countersued Malekan for damages related to the loss of the facilities and the subsequent decrease in home values, according to court documents. Most have now dropped their litigation, but a suit filed by 28 Stirrup Lane LLC remains. The defendant’s attorney could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Court documents suggest that the “vast majority” of the defendants appeared willing to discontinue litigation because of the town’s promise to build a park district in its place. In 2012, the town agreed to purchase a 7.2 acre portion of the Country Club property for $2 million, and proposed a $14.2 million plan to restore the facilities and create a new park district, to be called Levitt Park.
Under the potential sale, residents would pay annual debt service payments, estimated at $800 to $1,000, on a $7.5 million bond to fund repairs at the Roslyn Country Club, Newsday reported last year. The new district would be open to Roslyn Country Club residents; nonresidents would pay membership fees.
The town cannot proceed with the sale and begin construction until litigation is concluded. Councilman Peter Zuckerman said town officials are anxious for the court to render a decision “so we can move forward.”
“All of us at town of North Hempstead, we’re watching this with a keen eye,” Zuckerman said. “We believe that a pool-park facility at RCC will be the jewel of the community.”
Under the town’s proposal, households in Roslyn Country Club would pay annual park district taxes for access to Levitt Park. Easements would be eliminated. The town currently operates three other park districts. In the Clinton G. Martin New Hyde Park Special District, the tax levy budgeted for 2016 was $673,028.
The Roslyn Country Club neighborhood has a long history, tracing its genesis back to a 1940s Levitt housing development. For $17,500, owners bought a home on a three-quarter acre plot and, for an additional $100 charge, access to the club’s amenities.
Though home prices have ballooned since, residents have been without club perks for a decade. North Hempstead officials have previously said construction would begin quickly once litigation is resolved and have since declined to comment further. The 2016 budget did not include any allocations for Levitt Park.
Todd Zarin, a longtime Roslyn Country Club resident and former civic association president, said ongoing litigation does little to reopen a new club that would benefit the community.
“It’s time we have a plan to open the facility . . . I don’t think more years of litigation gets us there,” Zarin said. “It would be an enormous victory, both to residents and current ownership, to complete the plan and get this facility operating.”