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This is why we can’t have nice things

An editorial that ran on July 5, 1976.

An editorial that ran on July 5, 1976. Credit: Newsday Archive

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Daily Point

More time

Need more time to comment on Syosset Park, the development proposal for the Cerro Wire site along the LIE that has been vacant for more than three decades?

You’ve got it.

Oyster Bay Town officials have extended the public comment period for the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for yet another month, with a new deadline set of Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, the town is forming a citizens advisory committee, made up of representatives from the civic associations neighboring the site. That committee will work with the town as it prepares to begin yet another environmental review of the property — this time an independent review done by a company that will be chosen by the town with the committee’s input.

Town officials also hope to hire Carol Browner, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to lead the effort.

If all goes according to plan, the town will soon issue a request for proposals to seek an independent firm to conduct the environmental analysis. The citizens advisory committee will have the right to approve Browner’s appointment, and to evaluate the bids that come in. If Browner is brought on, she and the independent firm chosen to conduct the environmental review would be paid by the development team — Simon Property Group and Castagna Realty Co.

Chuck Davis, Simon’s senior vice president of development, noted that the typical public comment period is 30 to 60 days. Syosset Park’s will be five months.

“We’re going through extraordinary steps to give the community the chance to vet a large and impactful project, but one we hope will be here to benefit the community for a long time,” Davis told The Point.

Town officials said that despite the lengthy comment period, and the need for a new review, they are optimistic this part of the process will be completed by the end of the year. And Davis said he’s confident the independent review will assuage the community’s concerns.

Davis added that the Syosset Park developers are in it for the long haul.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Davis said. “We’re going to be long-term neighbors and partners here.”

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Tension over typo

A new attack against insurgent state attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout emerged on Friday, when a New York City Councilwoman blasted Teachout for misspelling the name of her front-runner opponent, Letitia James.

The open letter, sent from Vanessa Gibson’s email address, said: “As an African American Member of the New York City Council, I find it offensive, and insulting, that given Letitia James’ decades-long career in public office, including being the first and only African American woman ever to be elected to New York City-wide office, you continue to misspell her name in your press releases.”

Gibson tied the misspelling to a “pattern by politicians to dismiss qualified and experienced candidates from communities of color, particularly women of color, by denying both their past public achievements and their identity.”

The insinuation of racial insensitivity as opposed to incompetence by a poor staffer may be a reach, as a quick Twitter search shows that even supporters sometimes write “Leticia.” In most settings, the public advocate goes by “Tish.”

But the attack shows another way establishment Democrats (Gibson is a former assemblywoman and former chair of the high-profile City Council Public Safety Committee) are pushing at outsider candidates. Gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon also came in for some needling when her invitations misspelled Ithaca before an appearance.

The attorney general race, however, might be even more wide open than the governor’s. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that “undecided” led the way with 42 percent, with James drawing 26 percent and Teachout getting 12. Cold Spring Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney also notched 15 percent. Maloney has received pressure, too, from Republicans looking to bump him from the ballot.

As the race heats up, it may be worth remembering that misspellings are a New York tradition: We’re only just now fixing the misspelling of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (it’s missing a z).

Mark Chiusano

Reference Point

From the archive: Build it (eventually) and they will come

Newsday subscribers were treated Sunday to a commemorative edition from July 5, 1976 — the coverage of our nation’s Bicentennial.

While most readers undoubtedly focused on the many stories about Operation Sail, the flotilla of tall ships and hundreds of other boats that paraded through New York Harbor on July 4, some sharp-eyed subscribers might have noted the editorial under that evergreen headline: “Crossroads on the Island.”

The editorial board noted that the Bicentennial was a good occasion to refocus thoughts about America’s destiny and instead consider the destiny of our own neighborhoods, and it asked questions about the plague of too much local government and the need for more effective representation of Long Island in both Albany and Washington.

But the board’s most timeless question dealt with the linkage of Long Island’s economy to that of New York City and the Island’s lack of effort on expanding its economic base:

“Can Long Island’s destiny be any more promising than the city’s as long as Nassau and Suffolk fail to provide housing that will attract and hold young people, or to develop a sense of competitiveness and vision in overall planning decisions?”

More than 42 years later, we’re still talking about the need for more housing for young people. But look at the bright side: The young folk of 1976 are now aging baby boomers looking to shed their big houses for condos and town homes, and finally there’s housing being built for them.

You know what they say. Built it (eventually) and they will come.

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point


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