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Opinion

One step forward, two steps back

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A site plan and rendering for the former

A site plan and rendering for the former Sears property in Hicksville. Photo Credit: Seritage Growth Properties

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Daily Point

Can’t blame the GOP for trying

Republicans challenging the nominating petitions of Democrat Monica Martinez to run in the 3rd Senate District apparently don’t think they have a real chance of knocking the Suffolk County legislator off the ballot. Thursday was the deadline, according to the state’s byzantine election law, for the GOP to preserve the ability to ask a court to review any decisions made by the Suffolk Board of Elections.

The GOP’s failure to file ensures that Martinez will face GOP nominee Dean Murray, who is giving up his Assembly seat. The Senate seat, being vacated by Tom Croci, who returned to active duty in the Navy, is considered a tossup and could be key to determining which party will control the chamber.

Democrats involved in the campaign to control the Senate were alarmed when the Suffolk County Democratic Party filed only 1,497 signatures, fewer than those filed on behalf of other Democrats in targeted seats, and the GOP immediately challenged 948 of her signatures. Martinez said that was a “stunt” by the GOP to reignite a controversy that swirled around her in 2015, when she was knocked off the Democratic line because of faulty petitions. In that case, it was in a primary challenge by another Democrat, but still she won re-election on the Working Families and Independence party lines.

Yet GOP maneuvering this week does highlight the major problems Martinez might have in a district that tilts Democratic: All Democrats don’t row in the same direction. One party insider attributed the low number of signatures collected for Martinez to antipathy between her and Assemb. Phil Ramos, which might have led his followers to sit on their hands. After all, Ramos’ wife, Angela, ran against Martinez in a Democratic primary for the legislative seat last year. Several months later Ramos’ daughter, Tina, was demoted from her patronage job at the Board of Elections after the primary challenge, and replaced, no less, with Martinez’s sister-in-law.

Can’t blame the Islip GOP for taking a page out the playbook of the Brentwood Democrats.

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

The new Oyster Bay way?

Consider Seritage Growth Properties the guinea pig.

The real estate investment trust is proposing a mixed-use development for the 26.5-acre site in Hicksville previously occupied by Sears. The property, about a half-mile from the Hicksville train station, is ground zero of an experiment that will test the question: Can the Oyster Bay way really change?

Seritage, which is seeking approval to build 596 market-rate rental apartments, 240,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and five acres of green space, plans to file its draft environmental impact statement before Labor Day, officials said in previewing the plans Wednesday for the Newsday editorial board.

Once the draft environmental impact statement is filed, town officials will have to evaluate it and make a recommendation, and public hearings will be held. While the project does not require a zoning change, it does need town environmental, planning and site approvals, along with some permits and variances, before construction can begin.

The developer has signed a lease with iPic Entertainment to create a luxury theater as a key tenant. Its proposal includes several four-story buildings, with retail located on the bottom floor, and residential units above. As of now, there’s no affordable housing in the development, and the one- and two-bedroom apartments would rent for $2,500 to $2,900 a month.

Seritage likely will face hurdles. The most obvious one: community concerns over the sheer number of units. Seritage’s original proposal had a much larger grocery space and far fewer residential units, about 350. Community residents initially objected to the larger grocery store, but are now concerned about the latest plan’s denser residential component.

And then there’s the larger hurdle: The Oyster Bay way that has almost always stopped anything other than single-family homes from being built in the town. The town’s approval of Country Pointe in Plainview was the first sign that change was possible. But a project with the size and scope of Seritage’s proposal, with four-story, mixed-use buildings in the center of Hicksville, has never succeeded in Oyster Bay.

Let the experiment begin.

Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

Caught in the Hamptons

More cartoons of the week

Pointing Out

About the ‘metropolitan transportation sustainability advisory work group’

When New York State forms a work group — but no one is appointed and no work is getting done — is anyone really working?

As it became clear in Albany that comprehensive congestion pricing in New York City wasn’t going to become a reality, state officials added language to the budget passed at the end of March to establish what they called a “metropolitan transportation sustainability advisory work group.” It seemed to be a way to push away the issue and allow another task force (the second) to take it on.

That big mouthful of a group is supposed to analyze the issues surrounding congestion pricing, including the need for more public transit funding, as well as potential changes to bridge and tunnel tolls. The group is supposed to come out with a report by the end of this year.

But so far, sources told The Point, the group hasn’t convened, and most members haven’t even been appointed.

The budget language states that the group is to consist of 10 members — two appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, two by the state Assembly, two by the State Senate, and the others by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city Department of Transportation, and the state Department of Transportation.

The Point reached out to each appointing agency or official. Only the State Assembly confirmed making appointments to the group, selecting Assembly members Michael Benedetto and Amy Paulin, according to an Assembly spokesman. A Cuomo spokesman would say only that officials there are “working on it.” A State Senate spokesman said the Senate is seeking recommendations from members, but no appointments have been made and there’s no timetable to make them. A spokesman for de Blasio said the city is “still in the process of identifying a well-qualified individual.” The rest did not respond to The Point’s inquiries.

The budget language didn’t establish a deadline for the appointments. But as weeks tick by, the best qualification for anyone in the group might be the ability to work on a tight deadline.

Randi F. Marshall

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