Residents who oppose potential development plans at Oceanside Jewish Center are banding together to fight it.
Charles Weinraub, a real estate investor known as “the handsome homebuyer,” will purchase 24,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot property. He and Mandalay Holdings, the company he will work with, plan to build one of five developments: a 120-unit apartment building, a 120-unit senior housing complex, an assisted-living facility, storage units or a medical office.
The land being sold is zoned in the Town of Hempstead for single-family houses. For any of the five proposed plans, the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals would need to approve rezoning for commercial use, as well as a subdivision of the land, which will be the subject of future public hearings.
About 100 Oceansiders gathered at the Sons of Italy Hall on Oct. 1 to discuss concerns and strategies for mobilizing on the issue. Joyce Lipton, who organized the meeting and lives about a mile from the OJC, said her biggest concerns are traffic congestion and overdevelopment.
Weinraub previously stated that additional traffic would not be an issue with the “senior options,” which he prefers, because those in assisted-living or 62-and-older housing are less likely to drive.
“It takes 15 to 20 minutes already to drive from one end of Oceanside Road to the other,” Lipton said. “It’s also concerning to think that just because someone is a senior, they don’t have a car. It’s an unreasonable expectation.”
Many in the room shared their concerns, including Matthew Campbell, who lives on Harold Street. “People moved [to Oceanside] from all different places for a better way of life,” he said. “And they do not want it to become like Queens or Brooklyn or the city.”
As a result of the gathering, the Oceanside Civic Association, a group dormant for many years, will re-form to combat the redevelopment. “We have to fight in numbers,” Campbell said, noting that “overdevelopment” is an issue across Nassau County, and the members expect to work with neighboring groups.
In two weeks, a change.org petition calling to end Mandalay Holdings’ project — “Stop Proposed Redevelopment of the Oceanside OJC” — has received about 1,400 online signatures. Numerous comments cite traffic on Oceanside Road and Brower Avenue as their biggest concern.
Residents have not received notice about the rezoning yet, Lipton said. She also noted that she and many other advocates would like to have open communication with Oceanside Jewish Center and elected officials about the redevelopment.
“We’re neighbors and we need to look out for each other,” she said. “We would love to talk to the people at Oceanside Jewish Center to see if there’s anything else they can do. We want them to stay, but we don’t want the community to be upset with them, either.
“People are really getting angry,” she added, “and I don’t think they’ll be cooling down anytime soon.”
In early September, Weinraub posted a video on his YouTube channel discussing preliminary plans for the subdivision. He shows the blueprint about five minutes into the video, which is called “Long Island: The Best Gets Better The Oceanside Jewish Center Redevelopment Project — Part 1.”
Weinraub will buy roughly two-thirds of the land’s southernmost portion. He plans to remove the single-family home on the property and build in between Oceanside Road and Brower Avenue. The OJC facilities, including the pre-school, catering hall and temple, will downsize and remain on the northern part of the property.
While renovations are undertaken at the center, Weinraub will permit its members to stay in the building on his newly purchased property, which he will remove once they are settled into their new place. Then, he will build whichever project he decides on. There will be a joint parking lot and driveway leading to the OJC and the new development, he said.
Neither Weinraub nor OJC officials responded to a request to comment by the time the Herald went to press on Monday.