The former site of the Oakwood Beach Club in Baldwin is going up for auction on Oct. 14.
Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, whose district includes Baldwin, hosted a Zoom meeting on Sept. 17 at which residents and former Oakwood Beach Association board members discussed the fate of the property, a once popular and bustling exclusive beach club with a picturesque view of Baldwin Harbor.
The property, Mulé said, at 8 Milburn Ave., is currently owned by a man who bought the tax lien a number of years ago, and who currently owes more than $500,000 in tax liens. The property was handed over to Maltz Auctions and is to be auctioned off at a minimum of $1.15 million, according to the Maltz Auctions website.
Former board members said that when they joined a couple of decades ago, there was a waiting list to become part of the club. Then membership declined and the board opened up the club to anyone in the community and some neighboring towns, like Oceanside. Then, in 2011, the facility closed, and the property sustained damage from Tropical Storm Irene. The following year, Hurricane Sandy brought more destruction, and the site today appears dilapidated.
Before closing, the club offered members beach-side activities and amenities, including pools that have since been filled in. About 10 years ago, roughly 200 families belonged to Oakwood.
At the meeting, local residents said they would like to see the site turned into green space for the community to use, but noted that restrictions present obstacles.
Stuart Lang, one of the last presidents of the organization, said, “It’s about 2.9 acres of prime waterfront property that has a deed restriction on it that it can only be used for recreation or for a pool.”
Additionally, “I believe a big chunk of the property — most of the property — is protected wetlands.”
The deed restrictions and protected wetlands designation present problems to potential developers who may wish to build on the property. They would be limited in their plans and have to seek approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to build.
“The deed restrictions will remain in place for the sale,” Mulé said. “There are two ways to bypass or get rid of the deed restrictions: One is by vote of the 600 homeowners in the area, and the other is by the board of the Town of Hempstead.”
Lang said he believes the 600 homes fall within the area south of Northern Boulevard to Bertha Drive.
“There are a boatload of restrictions on that property,” said local resident Hayden Wool. “From the standpoint of a deed, the ability to build, the likelihood of building, and my thought has been that it would be foolish for someone to bid on it at auction and buy it with all of the restrictions that are on it.”
Wool said he hoped Nassau County or the Town of Hempstead would step up and potentially foreclose on it, take it over and “make it a green space and preserve it for the community — that would be the best.”
“None of us as individuals can do anything about it, but the legislative body can do something about it and should, and should have already,” Wool said. “We need the town or county to step up for the people of this community. That land is an albatross.”
“I would love to see it turn into green space,” Mulé agreed. “I had been in talks with the town over the past couple of years; they’re really not able to do it. I’ve been in touch with the county; they’re not able to do it. There just is no money to do anything like that.”
Mulé said it’s time to get creative when it comes to brainstorming solutions.
“It’s going to take some real out-of-the-box thinking to solve this problem, but I completely agree, we need to solve it,” she said. “It is a blight right now, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of property.”
To see photos of the site and details, including the original deed, visit the Maltz Auction website at maltzauctions.com/auction/364945/auction-detail/.