The Oyster Bay Way
At a time when most Long Island towns are anticipating major budget challenges for 2009, Oyster Bay continues to throw good money after bad in its death struggle to stop the construction of a mall in Syosset.
As revenue from mortgage recording taxes falls and the cost of borrowing increases, towns are cutting capital budgets and considering cutting back on services. Yet, the Oyster Bay town board voted Tuesday to pay $70,000 in legal fees to appeal a consistently losing case.
Adding in the latest legal bill, the total fees paid to outside attorneys to stop Taubman Centers from building a mall on the old Cerro Wire property will top $375,000.
Spending tax dollars on legal fees is not the only cost to the town. We pointed out in a June 12 editorial what the revenue could have been had the mall gone on the tax rolls in 2003, instead of at least 2011, the earliest possible date considering this latest round of appeals. In those eight, lost tax years, it's estimated the town could have collected $4 million in revenue and the Syosset school district could have gotten a windfall of $16 million, without having to add one more student to its classrooms.
Perhaps, some of those legal fees -- as well as town planning talents -- might have been better spent developing a plan to deal with the parking problem at the Hicksville train station.
Wouldn't it be smarter and cheaper right now to sit down and negotiate with the developer?
Maybe Taubman would be interested in building a parking garage in Hicksville? That would give Supervisor John Venditto more acid relief than a whole warehouse of Pepcid-AC.