AT MEETING WITH NS RESIDENTS, NATIONAL GRID OUTLINES PLANS FOR GLENWOOD LANDING PROPERTY AND TAX ASSESSMENTS
January 25, 2014 -- At a meeting with North Shore residents on Thursday evening, representatives of National Grid made clear their intentions to “black top” with asphalt the waterfront property on Hempstead Harbor after demolition of the iconic 1920s era building is completed and the land remediated. The meeting at the National Grid Administrative offices in Hicksville was arranged by George Pombar, President of the Glen Head Glenwood Civics Association and attended by eight members of the community and seven representatives of the utility. In addition to the plans for the property, other issues were raised such as the utility’s expectations concerning their tax assessments in upcoming years, and the environmental impact of the demolition on nearby neighborhoods– in particular Ram’s Hill.
As the meeting got underway, National Grid Environmental Services manager Christopher Corrado gave a power point presentation that offered some background history to decommissioned power stations 2 and 3 (see area #1 on the map to the right) and a timeline for their dismantling and the site's remediation. Power station 3 along with its twin 200 foot tall yellow brick stacks was demolished this past November, as were the two blue fuel storage tanks on the east side of Shore Road. It is anticipated that “deconstruction” of the brick shell with the six white smoke stacks that housed power station 2 will begin this March and be completed by the end of the year. Peaking generators at the south end of the property will remain, as will the towering stanchions on the east side of shore road, a power substation immediately across the street, and the white water tower. The remediated portion of the property will thus be tucked between a substation, the power stanchions, and the water. (See map to the right)
Sea Cliff resident Karin Barnaby made an impassioned plea to spare the 1920s building from the wrecking ball, and consider re-purposing it. She cited several examples of former industrial sites being converted to other uses such as the Clairol Factory in Connecticut being transformed into a recreational facility operated by Chelsea Piers, and Con Edison’s Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers being re-purposed as a convention center. Ms. Barnaby submitted to Ms. Echo Cartwright, Vice President for Government Relations, and formerly a lobbyist for National Grid, a petition with 780 signatures calling on the company to postpone the demolition and consider re-purposing the building.
Addressing Ms. Barnaby's comments, Mr. Corrado stated that the building, which has not been operational since 1978, was in such disrepair that it was approaching condemnation. He estimated the cost to renovate the structure to an acceptable level of safety would exceed $100 million. The intention of the utility, he explained, was to demolish the structure and "prepare the site for use consistent with current land planning and local zoning regulations." Ultimately the property where power stations 2 and 3 once stood, would be “capped” with asphalt. Ms. Barnaby asked if the company reached out to developers, to which the reply was "no", but that developers "were not exactly knocking at the door" as none had approached the utility.
When another resident asked about the possibility of selling or leasing the site for industrial or other development, the utility’s representatives stated that any decision regarding the sale or leasing the land for other uses would be decided by top management, and be a part of an overall strategy of how the company manages all of its assets in the Northeastern United States. The resident emphasized that developing the property would be a “win-win” for both the utility and the community, as it would bring in income for the company and broaden the community’s tax base.
A Ram’s Hill resident expressed concerns regarding exposure to the airborne dust that was created when the twin stacks of power station 3 were taken down in November, and asked whether precautions were being taken to prevent a similar occurrence when Station 2 was demolished. A National Grid representative and site manager apologized for the dust created during the November demolition and said action was taken at that time to address the situation. Mr. Corrado added that companies that had bid for the demolition contract had proposed imploding the 1920s structure or taking a wrecking ball to it, and that the utility had rejected both approaches in favor of a safer and less messy “deconstruction” of the building.
As the meeting neared its conclusion, Mr. Pombar asked about the utility’s expectations regarding its property’s tax assessment. A National Grid representative who was there specifically to discuss that issue, gave an overview of the property’s tax payments over the past few years which have been as follows: 2010-11 - $21.6 million; 11-12 - $21.4 million; 12-13 - $22.6 million. For 2013-14, she said she was uncertain but believed it was in line with the previous year. She continued that a reassessment of the property in January 2013, halved the property’s assessed value and that the expectation is that their tax burden would be reduced by about $11 million for the 2014-15 tax year.
North Shore School Board Trustee Tom Knierim, who attended the meeting, then responded that a lower assessment on a property does not necessarily bring about a proportional reduction in taxes, as other factors come into play. The company representative then continued that as structures came down, National Grid would continue to have its property's value reassessed each January in an effort to reduce its tax obligation. Mr. Pombar then brought up NYS real property tax law 1803. After some discussion, Mr. Knierim explained the base proportions system in Nassau County, and real property law 1803, which limits to 5% the tax shift from one property class, (in this case utilities), to another (residences). The law, he explained, has been amended annually for the last several years, most recently as a result of a bill introduced by Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola), to limit the shift to 1%. Mr. Pombar handed a copy of the legislation to Ms. Cartwright, who replied that while the bill had been introduced, she believed that the legislation had not been signed into law. Another resident said that he believed it was law. (Click on links to right to see law and amendment in question) The meeting concluded soon thereafter.
The demolition and remediation is expected to be completed by the Spring of 2015.
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