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Syosset Park developers may take houses out of plans for 93-acre site

Oyster Bay town officials say the developer wants to keep the current zoning for warehouses and office buildings instead of changing it for residential construction.

Town of Oyster Bay utility vehicles move around

Town of Oyster Bay utility vehicles move around the Highway Yard near the Department of Public Works buildings in Syosset on April 25, 2019. Photo Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Oyster Bay officials say they are renegotiating the town’s agreement with the developers of Syosset Park over plans for the 93-acre site that may remove residential construction from the project.

Syosset Park LLC — a partnership between Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Manhasset-based Castagna Realty Co. — has signaled to the town an interest in using the site as it’s currently zoned for warehouses and office buildings instead of town houses and condominiums as was originally proposed, Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman said.

The developers have not filed a new application with the town and “have not told us exactly what they want to do,” Carman said. They have “expressed that they’re looking to pursue an approach that would allow them to develop the property in a timely manner,” he said.

Representatives for Simon and Castagna did not respond to requests for comment.

The developer originally wanted to build 625 town houses and condominiums, two hotels, a 30-acre park, stores, offices and restaurants on the former Superfund site at the old Cerro Wire plant and adjacent town landfill. That plan was met with opposition from area residents who raised concerns the project would overburden the Syosset Central School District and that construction could pose an environmental hazard to the surrounding area.

Laura Schultz, president of Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset, said she considers an updated plan as an improvement but is still concerned development would impact students and staff at two nearby schools.

“It’s better; it reduces or eliminates the residential component but we had other concerns beside that,” Schultz said. “The safety of students and employees in both those Syosset schools remains paramount.”

The town sold the Syosset property, where its Public Works Department complex is still housed, in 2013. The town received $30 million for the property and is to get an additional $2.5 million when the sale closes.

The developer at that time agreed to let the town’s buildings, vehicles and equipment remain on the 150 Miller Place site for five years with an option to rent the property for an additional three years. The town has been renting the facility since September for $75,000 a month. Its rent is being deducted from the $2.5 million the town is owed at the close of the sale, a town spokesman said.

A 2013 report conducted by Hauppauge-based Nassau Suffolk Engineering & Architecture president Michael Spinelli concluded renovations to the public works complex would cost $47.6 million and recommended that “the town explore a new centralized facility.”

Carman said Wednesday officials are renegotiating to keep its facility in Syosset and that the town “has no desire” to relocate.

Town officials have explored a couple of relocation proposals, including one that would have cost $44 million to build new facilities, Newsday previously reported. That plan was rejected by the town board.

Earlier this month, the town board approved purchasing a Bethpage property from Nassau County for $2.1 million to service its fleet of vehicles if the public works department is unable to stay in Syosset, Carman said. The 2.3-acre site at 915 S. Oyster Bay Road is ideal for servicing the town’s vehicles, he said.

“It’s the most cost-effective way of the town insuring itself so that it has the ability to maintain its fleet of vehicles in the event we have to lose the facility at 150 Miller Place,” Carman said.

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