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Oyster Bay referendum on sale of Syosset facility to be held Tuesday

Justice W. Gerard Asher in Riverhead ruled that

Justice W. Gerard Asher in Riverhead ruled that Oyster Bay had not acted capriciously in selling its public works complex to Oyster Bay Realty LLC for $32.5 million rather than to Taubman Centers Inc., which has tried to build the mall on the adjacent former Cerro Wire site for 18 years. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A month of intense campaigning over the Town of Oyster Bay's plan to sell its public works facility in Syosset ends Tuesday as residents vote on a referendum to approve or reject the $32.5 million deal.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the locations used in general elections.

If the referendum is approved, the town can proceed with the sale of the 54 acres to Oyster Bay Realty LLC -- a group of developers headed by Simon Property Group, which owns several Long Island malls and has been trying to stop the construction of a luxury mall on the adjacent Cerro Wire site.

If the referendum is rejected, the town would have to start the sale process all over again.

Taubman Centers Inc., which has been trying for 18 years to build the luxury mall, has offered to pay an unspecified higher price for the land if approval for the mall is part of the deal. The town will not consider that, Supervisor John Venditto said Monday.

If the referendum passes, Taubman will try to stop the sale with a lawsuit already filed in state Supreme Court in Riverhead.

Venditto, Nassau Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) and Todd Fabricant, chairman of a group of organizations opposed to Taubman's mall, urged a "yes" vote at a news conference Monday. They said the sale would help alleviate the town's budget problems without boosting the mall's chances.

Jacobs said a mall "is not something we need in this community. It's a very bad location for the amount of traffic it would generate."

Long Island Jobs Now, the group formed by Taubman to push for the mall and fight the land sale, said rejecting the referendum would mean millions of dollars more for the town from a new sale. The group's spokesman, Kyle Sklerov, said its outreach would continue Tuesday "to make sure voters go to polls to send a message to the town that they can't slip this rotten deal past the public in a low turnout referendum."

Venditto and Fabricant criticized a flier put out Monday by Long Island Jobs Now. It urged residents to "Vote no on Tuesday, August 20. And after you vote, look for the free ice cream outside your polling place!" They said the ice cream enticement represented unfair campaigning.

Sklerov said later, "The flier was mistakenly printed and distributed to a very limited geographic area in the southern part of the town, and nothing of the sort was ever planned for or is happening tomorrow."

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