Would-be 7-Eleven builder funds police booth

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A Great Neck developer has offered to fund the construction of a new police booth on the site of a proposed 7-Eleven convenience store that has drawn vocal criticism from Village of Great Neck residents.

The Village of Great Neck board okayed the project at Monday night’s meeting, which would replace an older booth across the street. 

Developer Korous Torkan’s plan to build a 7-Eleven on the former site of a gas station on the corners of Middle Neck and Steamboat roads is still awaiting a ruling from the village’s zoning board of appeals, which presided over a contentious public hearing on the project in October. Torkan had touted the presence of a police booth as a means of allaying safety and noise concerns raised by residents.

“Torkan has agreed, notwithstanding what happens with the 7-Eleven, to either fix up or replace our police booth,” said Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman.

The board debated whether to renovate the existing booth or move it to a new site before agreeing to relocate it to Torkan’s property. The village will have an easement on the booth assuring its use if the property is later sold, according to Kreitzman.

Deputy Mayor Mitchell Beckerman, who abstained on the vote, said it may be better to move the booth to elsewhere in the event the 7-Eleven is not approved by the zoning board.

“We may want to move it to Steamboat Road,” Beckerman said, adding that he would reserve judgment on the plan for the time being.

Torkan and his attorney Paul Bloom presented the idea of funding a police booth at the October hearing in response to resident concerns over potential increases in crime due to the opening of the store.

At that meeting, Torkan said the booth would not be staffed at taxpayer expense, but would provide a place for Nassau County officers to conduct their business and serve as a deterrent.

“The general appearance of it alone will give a sense of protection,” Torkan said in October. “They will not be sitting there guarding anybody’s property.”

Bloom read from a letter sent by Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale that supported the rebuilding of the police booth, but residents at the hearing were not convinced, arguing that the 7-Eleven would attract loiterers and raise crime rates.

Trustees Mark Birnbaum and Jeffrey Bass voted with Kreitzman to move the police booth project forward. Trustee Barton Sobel was not present for the vote.

The zoning board was scheduled to discuss the application Thursday, Jan. 3 but postponed the matter until its February meeting. 

Because the Nassau County Planning Commission recommended that the village reject the project, the application needs a four-vote supermajority to pass.

Reach reporter Dan Glaun by e-mail at dglaun@theislandnow.com or by phone at 516.307.1045 x203. Also follow us on Twitter @theislandnow1 and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

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