Garvies Point Chronicle

The City of Glen Cove and the Developer [RXR] eloquently tell a story about a project’s years in the making with tales of the laboriously tasked mission, countless hours of community involvement, multi-agency participation, and years and years of hard fought efforts to clean up a desolate blighted area. Passionately persuading the reader with visions of its great quest[1] for the revival of the waterfront – they convincingly and compellingly tell of the countless investments, the labored journey, overcoming precipices, finally about to summit – only to be stopped by this “eleventh-hour”[2] threat of halting the dream.

The Resident-Petitioners/Plaintiffs too were told of a dream – their dream was the dream of Woody Guthrie, their dream was the dream that possibly this land really was made for you and me. These Residents live on this waterfront, swim in its waters, sail in its waves, bask in the light that shines from its shores – it is the essence that soothes their souls, warms their hearts, comforts their children.

These residents believed in their elected leaders, trusted them, relied on the process, and assumed there was transparency. They were led to believe in the creation of a quaint seaside destination, in keeping with the area, the architecture, the uniqueness that makes this North Shore community the beloved home that it is.

These Resident-Petitioners have worked hard to see their dream, they have participated in this community for years, paid their taxes, showed up at meetings, voiced their opinions, pleaded with their comments – only to fall on deaf ears. And at the same time that they were working, just as hard for their reality, they were being misinformed, deceived and betrayed.

The reality is that the officials of the City of Glen Cove, who carry with them the transgressions of their predecessors, stood by for years and years and allowed the unfettered dumping, sewage, and toxic waste to spew from their shores. Now, the City stands before the Court and counts out the millions spent on cleaning up this contaminated land as if the money poured from its own pockets.

The City of Glen Cove and the Developer did not spend this money – this City has mismanaged its funds so miserably that the State Comptroller warns of the “significant financial risks” embedded in the City’s 2016 budget[3]. It is the regulatory agencies that have spent the money, tracked down the polluters, tested the soil, and managed these sites for years. The City has not. It has paid lip service to these efforts.

The City prays on emotions of the court in this recent litigation, repeating its declaration made in its Findings Statement, repeated by its counsel, that this “remediation effort to date has totaled approximately $100 million, and has lasted approximately twenty (20) years.” As if the City officials themselves, have carried this torch. Nothing can be further from the truth. This clean-up effort has been carried along by the efforts of “State and Federal environmental programs”; it has been funded with “[s]ignificant state and federal grants”.

The City claims that it will receive 3.5 million dollars from the sale of this land[4] and it complains that it will “be at risk of not being able to pay back, for example, the next installment of a loan used to acquire the site and contribute to the past remediation in the amount of $4.8 million”. The Planning Board Chairman blurted it out best upon learning that the City’s CDA had just approved plans for a parking garage at the Waterfront while the Board was in the midst of struggling with parking issues at the Site, “Why is the City doing that? Why don’t you have the applicant do that?” he pointedly asks of the CDA Executive Director, and then demurs, “It is not my business.”

In this sad tale, it is the Developer who stands to add to his billions for years to come, while leaving the home town whose borders he does not reside within[5] – yet claims to so love and adore – to fend for itself floating bonds and paying back loans for its failed efforts to properly manage this Project. The City made a deal from which it cannot back out and for which all of its residents will suffer for decades to come, while the Developer makes his billions and moves on to conquer his next patch of paradise.

if and when it becomes clean

 were the words of the Developer’s counsel at a June 16, 2015 meeting of the Planning Board referring to “Lower Parcel C.” Insisting all along to the public that the sites are completely cleaned up, and imploring the Planning Board to consider the amended subdivision application as “minor housekeeping rather than substantive changes.” The Developer tells the court of their grandiose efforts, forgetting however to inform, that within the first sign of trouble, they dump the toxic waste back to the City, because the “applicant at this time does not wish to take title to” it. Why should the Developer stay true to his altruistic exclamations and actually see the clean up through? Better to dump it back to the City and move forward with the capital venture.

 

[1] See R. 33 at 01180, Scott Rechler at Planning Board Public Hearing on September 20, 2011 referring to Project as a business quest as much as a personal quest.

[2] Respondents City of Glen Cove Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petitioners’ Petition-Complaint and in Support of Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment (herein referred to as “City’s Brief”) pg. 1.

[3] See Exhibit B, NY State Comptroller letter, pg. 3 also available at http://osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/cities/2015/glencove_br.pdf#search=%20glen%20cove.

[4] Id.

[5] See R. 33 at 01180, Scott Rechler at Planning Board hearing, “I practically live in Glen Cove.”

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