LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Received from Roger Friedman, Sea Cliff
March 6, 2016
To the Editor:
Welcome to Mayor Spinello’s Alternate Reality: In response to the article “Waterfront To Proceed As Planned,” [that appeared in the Glen Cove Record Pilot] many of the statements made by Mayor Spinello are either false grossly misleading.
It seems that the Mayor is living in an alternate reality, but residents of Glen Cove deserve the truth.
The Mayor states: “Despite the lawsuits, the waterfront project is moving forward as planned.” The Mayor cannot know if this project will move forward as the courts have not yet ruled. The developer’s CEO himself states in an affidavit “These lawsuits . . . severely threaten our ability to secure financing for the Project…and there is any degree of uncertainty regarding our approvals and ability to build.” This is hardly a statement of “moving forward as planned.”
“Public hearings will be held over the next few months, so people will have a chance to ask questions and voice concerns.” The public record (FEIS) contains 15 years worth of questions and concerns that have been ignored. Why should anyone believe that his or her concerns and questions would now be addressed? The concerns today are the same as they’ve been in the past… the density, the traffic, the strain on services and the questionable finances. Mr. Spinello should spend some time reading the many letters of opposition contained in the City’s own Final Environmental Impact Statement. “
A TIF is non-recoursed to the city and the city has no liability to repay it.” This is dangerous equivocation. It's Glen Cove’s debt, so it's Glen Cove’s liability (the terms are synonymous). Glen Cove is indeed responsible to make both the interest and principal payments. What the Mayor seems to mean is that if the project fails the debt is secured by the property itself. But Glen Cove still needs to repay this financing “
While the city is paying for the infrastructure costs up front, the property owner will pay the taxes”
What is the meaning of this sentence? “The City is paying for the infrastructure costs up front” i.e. you are taking out a loan to pay for these costs NOW. “the property owner will pay the taxes” i.e. Some day in the future, when the project is starting to sell or rent apartments, there will be taxes that will cover the cost of the loan payments. But using The City’s own figures, the math doesn’t add up to profit, it adds up to MORE DEBT. The annual net profit after expenses cited in the FEIS is $1.7 million. This has oddly been revised upward to $3.2 million with the new plan, but this does not take into account any debt service for infrastructure TIF’s. The interest on 100 million in borrowing is substantially more than 3.2 million. This project could leave a shortfall of millions in the City’s budget year after year.
“The project is expected to generate at least 1,000 construction and permanent jobs and to bring in $50 million per year to the city.
The jobs figure is a gross overstatement, and the statement regarding $50 million per year is an outright misinterpretation of the City’s own estimate. Here are the facts directly from the City’s own documentation:
In 2011, total on-site employment was estimated at 585 full-time equivalent jobs, more than half of that number of jobs was attributable to a hotel/spa. So the Mayor’s jobs estimate is quoted from an item that is no longer part of the project! The new estimates are: 226 onsite jobs (123 of these are attributable to office space yet to be rented and 296 due to assumed increased economic activity. In addition, far fewer than 1,000 construction jobs are expected, with the total now estimated at 466.
As for “$50 million per year to the City,” This too is a misrepresentation. The Estimated Retail Spending from new residents is expected to be 9.8 million, and that’s for all of Nassau County! These figures come from a report by The Eisen Group, consultants on the project.
“At full build out of the site, the project will generate $50.9 million in total tax Revenues during the construction period.”
According to the FEIS this 50.9 million will not accrue to the benefit of Glen Cove. Most of this money will go to the state and the county for taxes on wages, material purchases and miscellaneous purchases during construction. There is no estimate of how much of this money, will go to the City of Glen Cove. The numbers in the FIES are broken out: 24.5 million in Sales Tax due to material purchases. State income tax accounts for another 20.6 million. Nassau County mortgage recording tax is estimated at 5 million. This equals 50.1 million that the City does not receive! The magnitude of the Mayor’s misunderstanding of this figure is stunning.
Spinello also noted in this article "the city's rating has remained neutral." Glen Cove’s rating is Baa3, one step above junk.
“This is once in a lifetime found money and it is the right thing for Glen Cove,…In the long term, the revenue growth will be substantial and will offset the increase in expenses.” Everyone knows that there is no such thing as “found money.” Everything comes with a cost. Where is this purported revenue growth to come from? There are no figures in the record. This is yet another statement with nothing to back it up.
“The buildings should be completed in 18 to 24 months. The entire project is expected to take five to six years to complete.”
Here’s what the FEIS actually says: “Given the scale of the proposed project, the site’s development is anticipated to be phased over the course of an estimated time period of up to 10 years.” This is twice the amount of time stated by the Mayor.
The people of Glen Cove and our North Shore community deserve the truth from their trusted public officials. It appears however that the Mayor doesn't have time to bother with facts. I invite Mayor Spinello to come back to reality and actually read the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Waterfront. It is posted on our website for his convenience.
Roger Friedman President
Committee For A Sustainable Waterfront
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