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Residents oppose Kings Point plan for 6-acre passive park

Kings Point Village Hall of the Town of

Kings Point Village Hall of the Town of North Hempstead is at 32 Steppingstone Lane. (May 29, 2013) Credit: JC Cherubini

The Village of Kings Point board is considering creating a 6-acre passive park along East Shore Road, which would involve appropriating the waterfront land of more than 20 property owners.

The proposal was not welcomed by most of the roughly 50 residents at a public hearing on Thursday, who expressed concerns about depreciating home values and loss of privacy.

The village would establish the park by acquiring 15 parcels of mostly undeveloped waterfront land by eminent domain. East Shore Road separates the sliver of properties from homeowners across the street.

Village Mayor Michael Kalnick said the new park would create “magnificent vistas” exclusively for Kings Point residents, and assured homeowners that it wouldn’t invite additional foot traffic. Kalnick also pledged stronger enforcement against trespassers.

Village officials told residents that aside from clearing debris and invasive species, little change would be made to the existing waterfront area, which prompted questions about the need for a passive park.

“Why make it a park? Why not make it a passive view?” said Kings Point resident David Shamooil.

The proposal would allow the village’s continued use of a roughly 1-acre parcel in the 173-acre Kings Point Park, which was the subject of years of litigation.

For decades, the village had used a western portion of Kings Point Park to store materials such as road salt. In 2008, when the village planned to deforest 5.4 acres and erect a 12,000-square-foot Department of Public Works facility, residents filed suit. Multiple courts, including the state Supreme Court and Appellate Division, ruled in favor of the residents.

In 2014, the Court of Appeals upheld that the area was parkland and could no longer be used for non-park purposes. Former State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) and former Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) then introduced legislation to permit the village’s use of 1.1 acres of the park for a public works facility, if a passive park was created in its place. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the legislation in July 2016.

Great Neck resident Daniel Capruso, one of the original plaintiffs in the 2009 litigation, said the village’s motivation for creating the passive park seems disingenuous.

“They’re taking land away from some people in order to sell existing municipal land for private development,” said Capruso.

The board has previously stated intentions to sell its main existing Department of Public Works facility on Sunset Road, said village attorney Stephen Limmer, but there has yet to be a formal vote.

Many residents said they supported beautifying the waterfront, but not at the expense of giving up their property, some of which has been in their families for generations. Homes on East Shore Road, which have a view of Manhasset Bay, are valued upwards of $1 million, according to Nassau County land records.

Kings Point resident Michael Khodadian said that though he had recently purchased his home because of its privacy and view, he would seriously consider selling if a park were forcibly created.

“Do we have a say in this?” Khodadian said. “I bought my house for this reason. Is it fair that I bought something and now I’m getting something else?”

Steven Dianat, of Kings Point, said the issue isn’t a matter of proper compensation but of village officials taking what is not theirs.

“With you guys taking this, it’s kind of taking a piece of my property, my life,” he said. “I feel it’s not really correct. I own a beachfront property in Kings Point. There’s no amount of money you could give me that would justify you taking it away from me.”

The village board closed the public hearing and no vote was taken.

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