Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto yesterday reiterated his fierce opposition to a proposed luxury mall in Syosset at the center of a bitter 17-year debate, saying, "We're never going to retreat on our position."
Venditto also slammed the developer behind the proposal for the former Cerro Wire site after a resident, during the public comment portion of the town board meeting, asked about mailings she said she and her neighbors had received claiming the $700 million Mall at Oyster Bay would lower their property taxes.
"I find it despicable that in this difficult economic time, those corporate America money-grabbing types prey -- like predators, they prey -- on the fear and anxiety that people have about this economy," Venditto said.
Robin Grossman, of the Syosset Council of PTAs, asked Venditto on behalf of her group whether the town planned to purchase the Robbins Lane property from developer Taubman Centers Inc. in order to halt the building of a mall.
Venditto said doing so would be nearly impossible.
"Even in the best of times, the prospect of buying it is overwhelming," he said, adding that he would back alternative development on the site.
Town environmental consultant Hal Mayer said the property cost $110 million "years ago." Grossman said she understood the price tag to be closer to $160 million now.
A Taubman spokesman yesterday responded that rejecting the mall is akin to rejecting economic relief for residents.
"We appreciate his position, but believe that when you have an opportunity to create over 5,000 good-paying jobs during a tough economy and generate $50 million in new, annual tax revenue for the localities that need it, ignoring the project hurts Long Island," Menashe Shapiro said in a statement, adding that the proposal is supported by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
The town rejected the proposed mall on environmental grounds a decade ago. Years of litigation followed, and a state appeals court upheld the decision in 2009.
Above: Syosset residents rally to protest the Taubman company's continued efforts to build a large mall at the old Cerro Wire company site -- a mall that residents say is too big for the area. (Nov. 6, 2011)