New twist for Hicksville, DA punching bag, fog of war
Sears property’s future in limbo
Two years ago this week, due to concerns over COVID-19, the Town of Oyster Bay canceled a public hearing on a proposal for residential and retail development on the sprawling former Sears property at the junction of routes 106 and 107. Now, The Point has learned, the future of the site, where the largest chain store in the northeast opened in 1964 to serve the region’s fastest-growing suburb, is once again in limbo and, under some new visions, may not include any housing at all.
No matter what, it’s likely the property’s future won’t be with Seritage Growth Properties, the Sears real estate arm that owns the land now, and its ambitious proposal.
That’s because Seritage apparently is considering a sale of the company, or a sale of individual assets. That could include the Hicksville property. Sources said that a variety of companies, developers and institutions have expressed interest in the 26.4 acre site. Some have reached out to Oyster Bay officials, hoping to get a meeting or to find out what the town might want for the land. Among the uses that have been offered are retail, manufacturing, medical care, or mixed-use, which could include some housing.
Seritage officials did not return calls for comment and several email addresses for the company were no longer functioning.
Seritage had proposed building 425 apartments, a movie theater, grocery store, office space and more on the site. The 2020 hearing was supposed to pave the way for the permitting and environmental approvals Seritage needed. That hearing took place six months later. But in April 2021, James Bry, Seritage’s executive vice president, left the company.
Now, with the assets potentially for sale, the future of Seritage and the Hicksville property is even more uncertain.
But Oyster Bay can’t do anything on the site until Seritage moves forward with a sale, so the timing of anything on the Hicksville property is unknown.
"It really depends on the private sector," Oyster Bay spokesman Brian Nevin told The Point. "We’re open to meeting with anyone interested in the property."
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
A Suffolk ally for Bragg
First-term Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has become a punching bag of late due to his "Day One" letter to staff that laid out charging, bail, plea, and sentencing policies largely under the banner of a "commitment to making incarceration a matter of last resort."
The memo was pretty standard fare given Bragg’s campaign promises, and he highlighted the "linked goals of safety and fairness," but the letter went public amid a number of high-profile New York violent crimes. Republicans and some Democrats railed at details such as downgrading certain robbery charges if a person "does not create a genuine risk of physical harm."
The rhetorical blowback to Bragg has been particularly heated on Long Island, where plenty of politicians on both sides of the aisle have spent years denigrating Albany criminal justice changes. Both of the Island’s gubernatorial hopefuls have made it a point to criticize Bragg’s since-tweaked policies: Lee Zeldin has called for Bragg to be "removed" for what he says is Bragg’s "refusal to enforce the law," and Tom Suozzi ran a TV ad criticizing Bragg’s moves and saying if any DA "refuses to enforce the law" he’d remove them.
It’s just part of the maelstrom of Bragg’s early tenure, which also includes a high-stakes decision about the criminal case involving former President Donald Trump. But Bragg is not without at least one defender in a high place out east: Last spring, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone made a point to boost Bragg with an endorsement, plus $20,000 in campaign funds.
That came at a time when Bellone appeared to be mulling a run for higher office, and an ally out of Harlem certainly wouldn’t have hurt. The endorsement was Bragg’s first from a county executive.
A lot has changed in New York politics since then. Andrew M. Cuomo is now a private citizen, underdog Republican DA candidates successfully ran law and order campaigns in Nassau and Suffolk, and Suozzi is the moderate Long Islander with county executive experience running for governor, not Bellone. The Point asked Bellone for his take on Bragg now, and the CE sent a statement calling Bragg "a man of great integrity which is a critical characteristic for a DA."
"He’s had a tough start but I’m confident he’ll find the right balance between public safety and justice," Bellone said.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons
The hell and fog of war
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Western sanctions against Russia were "akin to a declaration of war." So why didn’t he just levy sanctions on Ukraine?
- Russian singers, musicians, conductors, and other artists are losing positions and having concerts and other engagements canceled for their refusal to condemn their country’s invasion of Ukraine or renounce their friendships with Vladimir Putin. Count them the latest to discover that war indeed is hell.
- Biden administration officials were in Venezuela last weekend and are planning a trip to Saudi Arabia this spring to discuss getting more oil to compensate for a possible boycott-induced loss of Russian oil. Must be tough trying to figure out when it’s OK to make deals with which human rights-trampling despots.
- Former President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. bomb Russian forces using planes with Chinese markings that he says would fool the Russians into attacking China. Guess he hasn’t heard about radar.
- Russia is trying to recruit soldiers from Syria, whose president Bashar al-Assad has been backed by Russia, to fight in Ukraine. When you make a deal with the devil, sooner or later he comes to collect.
- Pope Francis sent two cardinals to war-torn Ukraine. Perhaps they can perform an exorcism.
- Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made his first public appearance since his resignation more than six months ago at a Brooklyn church where he told Sunday service attendees, "God isn’t finished with me yet." He does know that can be interpreted two ways, right?
- He was an AP political reporter who wrote leads so good, so succinct, and so insightful on such extreme deadlines that other reporters would ask him, "What’s the lead, Walter?" and he was so well-known that he was featured in the Doonesbury comic strip. RIP, Walter Mears.
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie