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Village of Lawrence debates land use, aims to attack crime

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The Village of Lawrence board remains stymied on what to do with the nearly 4 acres of land left vacant by the closing of the sewage treatment plant on Rock Hall Road. Competing visions have hindered the five-member board from making any solid decisions since Nassau County ceded the 4.35-acre site to the village more than two and a half years ago. Lawrence owns 3.83 acres.

Mayor Alex Edelman continues to stump for his plan to sell the land to a developer to build up to eight single-family homes, which would generate nearly $8 million for the village. Trustee Uri Kaufman, who was part of the Lawrence Board of Education that sold the Number One School to developers for $29.1 million in 2007, believes the property could be sold for upwards of $18 million to a developer to build 120 apartments and visualizes using the money to build a JCC-type facility and possibly purchase a beach club.

Tsvi Greenfield, a Rock Hall resident who submitted a petition with more than 40 names nearly two years ago concerning the site, addressed the trustees at the Nov. 14 board meeting. “This is a once in a lifetime thing, you should take into consideration the residents who live,” he said. The petitioners primary objection was building anything that generates an increase in traffic and noise.

Another stumbling block was a question posed by Trustee Daniel Goldstein. “Where is the money going, what will it be used for?,” he asked, wanting to know what the money will be used for before selling the land.

Except for school property, Zion Park on Central Avenue is the only open play space in Lawrence. Its playground is geared for young children. “We need green space, we need space for our kids,” resident Josh Justic said.

Attacking crime

Because of an increase of upscale vehicles being stolen across Nassau County and thieves targeting Hewlett Harbor, 4th Precinct Commanding Officer Insp. Joseph Barbieri spoke at the November meeting.

Barbieri addressed several topics ranging from auto theft to phone scams. He said that Lawrence is No. 79 in the precinct for frequency of accidents. The area in the village with the most traffic accidents is Central Avenue.

Every 43 seconds a car is stolen, and Barbieri said it is not only the Five Towns, it is occurring on the North Shore and in the Hamptons. As a few of the vehicles were recovered in New Jersey, he said a group of people from the Garden State are looking for cars where the key and key fob are left in the vehicles. “They are not breaking windows, they are trying all the handles,” he said, adding that valuable items should not be left in the car and if they are cover them.

Residents can help police by providing a license plate and a description of what Barbieri called “suspicious cars.” He also pointed out that scams are prevalent and said the perpetrators are “just fishing for information.” Noting the scam where a family member, typically a grandparent, is told that their grandchild was arrested and money is needed Barbieri said whoever his officers arrest is allowed to use the phone.

Next meeting

The next Village of Lawrence meeting is Thursday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m., in Village Hall, 196 Central Ave. in Lawrence. A public hearing is being held on amending the village code concerning building permit expiration dates and monetary penalties for construction delays.