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Residents express frustrations with local projects at Lawrence Association meeting

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While Town of Hempstead community research assistant Scott Cushing discussed the town’s visions for the future at a Lawrence Association meeting, attendees expressed their frustrations with projects in the Five Towns area such as the Woodmere Club and the potential transit oriented development in Inwood and North Lawrence.

At the organization’s Feb. 12 meeting at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club, Cushing spoke on development projects throughout the town, such as the construction of the new arena for New York Islanders in Belmont and the development of downtown Baldwin after the town received a $10 million grant from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. 

Cushing noted that it is the town’s responsibility to be transparent with development plans. “I believe that the Town of Hempstead is at the epicenter of economic developments,” he said. “It’s important to share these developments with residents.” 

Lawrence Association President Paris Popack said that while the developments across the town are impressive, she has concerns with the Five Towns projects. “What is the town doing with the Woodmere Club and the transit oriented development in Inwood and North Lawrence,” Popack asked. “These are projects that are going to cause more issues to an area that already has a high amount of traffic.”

Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman promoted the transit oriented development that was approved by the town board last may. It will be applied to about 11.7 acres near the Lawrence Long Island Rail Road station and about 9 acres near the Inwood LIRR station. The new zoning was will allow for the redevelopment of light industrial and manufacturing uses adjacent in the area to encourage a mix of housing and commercial uses. Cushing said since the district was approved, revising it could be difficult, however residents should voice their concerns.

“I’m not an expert on the TOD but I would recommend reaching out to your local representatives and discuss your thoughts with them,” he said. “They’ll be more than happy to chat with you.” 

Rena Saffra of the Five Towns Civic Association said that she believes the town should do more to mitigate the Woodmere Club development. “This development has been an issue for five years and it has not improved,” Saffra said. “I’ve been hoping for something new with this development, I’ve met with people such as Laura Gillen and Bruce Blakeman but still nothing has changed.” 

Efrem Gerszberg and Robert Weiss bought the club nearly three years ago and are planning to build 284 single-family homes on 114.5 acres of its 118 acres. The town signed an inter-municipal agreement with the villages of Lawrence and Woodsburgh in December. The agreement would allow for the municipalities to collaborate to create a coastal conservation district for the club. A coastal conservation district is a zoning that is dedicated to enhancing and maintaining the natural resources of a coastal area.

While Cushing admitted that he is aware of the Woodmere Club development, he is not an expert on it. “To be honest, I was not tasked with coming here to talk about the Woodmere Club,” he said. “But from what I’ve heard, there is a very active conversation going on with the town on this matter. I’m hopeful there will be a solution to this soon.”

The next Lawrence Association meeting is Wednesday, March 18 at 8 p.m., at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club, 101 Causeway in Lawrence.