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Saturday, October 25, 2014
To build or not to build?
Luxury apartment proposal met by excitement, criticism
By Tom Jordan

Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy devastated Island Park, the village is still struggling to get back on its feet. Several businesses that were shuttered in the immediate aftermath of the storm have only recently reopened their doors, while others remain closed. Nearly 20 percent of Island Park residents still have not returned to their homes.

The opportunities to rebuild have sometimes been accompanied by growing pains. One such opportunity is the luxury apartment complex proposed by John Vitale, who recently presented his plan to the Town of Hempstead zoning board. The plan calls for 86 high-end apartments, with rents ranging from $1,800 to $2,800, to be built at a cost of approximately $18 million at the corner of Pettit Place and Waterford Road. The proposal has been met by both excitement and criticism, and the zoning board has not yet decided whether to approve it.

Before his meeting with the board, Vitale sought the endorsement of the Island Park Chamber of Commerce last January — and got it. “The chamber pretty much unanimously approved the plan,” said its president, Glenn Ingoglia. “We need people to make Island Park their home, patronize the businesses and fall in love with the place.”

“This is an excellent opportunity to attract working professionals to our community,” added the chamber’s vice president, Michael Scully.

At least some of the residents of the Yacht Club, a condominium complex next door to the proposed site, feel differently. They have hired an attorney, David Rosenberg, to challenge the development. Rosenberg acknowledged that it might be a boon to Island Park’s economy, but said that the proposed complex would be too large, and would create traffic problems and obstruct residents’ waterfront views.

“If you look at the layout of the Yacht Club, there are about 10 units per acre,” Rosenberg said. “The complex that has been proposed for that 2½-acre site would have 33 units per acre. That density of people would create a major impact on residents who currently live there, including traffic, overcrowding and pollution.”

The Yacht Club is home to 128 residents.

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