The town of North Hempstead is considering condemning the long-shuttered Roslyn Country Club in Roslyn Heights, four years after first agreeing to purchase the property.
The country club, which has been closed for a decade, is mired in litigation preventing the town from closing on the contract to buy it. Now, the board has authorized an appraisal of the property, which is the first step of the condemnation process.
“We are committed to moving forward with this project and we came up with a strategy because we needed to find a way to try to move this forward,” said Town Councilman Peter Zuckerman. “This is something we’re exploring because our hands are tied.”
Under the contract previously negotiated between the town and the country club’s owner, Manouchehr Malekan of Corona Realty Holdings LLC, the town cannot close on the sale until all litigation is resolved. This contract has since expired, said Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin.
When the club shuttered in 2007, nearly 400 of the neighborhood’s 668 homeowners filed lawsuits, but today, only one lawsuit, filed by 28 Stirrup Lane LLC, remains. This case was originally scheduled to be heard in state Supreme Court in Nassau County, but was recently transferred to District Court. The next court hearing is set for February 2017, and will be presided over by Judge Ignatius Muscarella.
Zuckerman said that the town board was disappointed by the transfer to District Court, since they had hoped for a trial and swift resolution. The attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant could not be reached for comment.
The battle over the use of the country club has long been contentious. Under easement rights dating back to 1959, residents of the Roslyn Country Club neighborhood previously paid an annual $150 fee for access to the club, which has a pool, tennis court, playground and catering facility. In 2007, Malekan shut down the club after unsuccessfully suing residents in an attempt to extinguish these easement rights.
In 2012, the town proposed purchasing a 7.2 acre portion of the 10-acre club for $2 million, and building a new park district, Levitt Park, in its place. Levitt Park would be open to Roslyn Country Club residents. All other town residents would be subject to a membership fee.
Due to litigation, these plans have stalled but condemnation may be another avenue to acquire the property, town officials said. Since the neighborhood is a special park district, the Roslyn Country Club community would bear the costs of purchasing the park at its appraised value.
This is a responsibility that the town would “never want to pass onto the residents” unless they were overwhelmingly in support, Zuckerman said.
Mineola-based Goodman-Marks Associates will conduct the appraisal, a process which Zuckerman said could take up to several months. Once the appraisal is completed, the town will present further details to the public.