Readers Write: Plan by Macy’s, Brookfield deserves a careful review

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Donald Davret makes some good and valid points in his letter about the proposal to redevelop the Macy’s property in Manhasset. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t make the points without displaying such utter contempt for his neighbors, but I guess that’s our culture now. (Yes, I live in Munsey Park but didn’t realize I was a “Biddy” or “bloviator” until Mr. Davret so kindly pointed it out to me.)

I signed the petition against the Brookfield proposal. But not because I’m opposed to change or development. As Mr. Davret points out, change and development are inevitable and historical facts, particularly in this area. I’ve been aware of this throughout my 27 years in Manhasset, as I’ve watched once-modest houses maxed-out or demolished and 6-bed 6-bath mansions erected in their stead, cars multiply to choke every driveway and road, and wooded areas give way to landscaped tracts infested with leaf-blowers. 

But this is no longer 1680 – or 1929, or 1992 for that matter. Increased population density, inadequate infrastructure and an overheated economy mean that more people in a wider radius will be affected by any major development at the foot of Spinney Hill than would have been the case even just a decade ago.

The impact of any plan to redevelop the Macy’s parcel deserves careful public review. The concerns of all the affected communities — including the “mobile communities” of commuters condemned daily to drive the area’s roads or ride the LIRR or NICE buses —need to be taken into account.

Manhasset’s residents and those in the surrounding towns have a legitimate right to express their opposition to proposals they believe to be poorly conceived.

Organized opposition and the online petition are a flag to the elected officials (whom Mr. Davret seems also to hold in contempt), that they need to weigh the potential benefits of a plan like Brookfield’s against its potential negative effects; effects that will have long-term, and possibly unintended impacts.

Mr. Davret may well be an expert at brick-and-mortar retail. It hardly takes an expert to see that the Macy’s time capsule in Manhasset Valley is a white elephant, or that Manhasset’s retail stores outside the Americana-Apple Store bubble are struggling. Additional housing for empty nesters who want to cash in and stay in the neighborhood, or for millennials and others who want to return to their beloved Manhasset would be nice, of course.

But I’m not sure I share Mr. Davret’s apparent optimism about how this project will improve the lot of these suburban exiles.

I doubt that Brookfield is driven by benevolence towards the elderly or the young who struggle. The market will rule. 

It will be interesting to see how local authorities fare in any effort to shape the proposed redevelopment: it’s worth taking a glance at Brookfield’s global heft.

The pressure it can bring to bear on local communities and institutions charged with representing the public interest should give one pause.  Brookfield is not your neighbor.  Nature and real estate abhor a vacuum.

The Macy’s parcel is a vacuum that will inevitably be filled.

With what? On what scale? At whose ultimate cost? To benefit whom? What, if any, common good can the local population actually gain from a redevelopment plan?

People who express opposition to the Brookfield proposal have a right, and are right to ask such questions, even if they’re “biddies.” Peace to you, Mr. Davret.

Kevin S. Kennedy 

Manhasset

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Davret responds:

    First, no one ever said that Brookfield’s plan shouldn’t be evaluated. Even a backyard deck gets scrutinized to hell and back around here. But to fire a missile at it without EVEN LOOKING AT IT is a bit of a knee jerk overreaction, yes?

    “Additional housing for empty nesters who want to cash in and stay in the neighborhood, or for millennials and others who want to return to their beloved Manhasset would be nice, of course. But I’m not sure I share Mr. Davret’s apparent optimism about how this project will improve the lot of these suburban exiles.”

    OF COURSE you don’t.

    And the market is there to provide housing for people the “biddys” have successfully frozen out of their moated communities. Just who ARE you afraid of moving into these apartments, Mr. Kennedy? I mean, this place hasn’t been the same since Patricia Murphy’s closed down. What will happen to us next?

    Across this country, there is a raging debate on housing affordability, the results of decades of poor policy. We told people buying a house was a key to prosperity. And so it is- now that they’re priced out of reach for the young and the old. those who are sitting pretty thanks to these policies are a bit reticent about opening the door a crack. Why?

    It’s the way people actually act. They’ve got theirs, so we’ll trot out the usual complaints about the “noise” and the “traffic,” just as we hear in the north side of Great Neck, whose retail sector now looks like a slum, because no one want to touch anything.

    Except you can’t freeze an economy or a community in amber. And if you want your tax base to grow, you have to look beyond the single family home fixation that is killing this Island. Also, it’s complete lack of public transportation, thanks to Robert Moses’ obstinacy, and his contempt for certain kinds of people.

    Unfortunately, unless you believe we’re going to stop procreating and aging, people need a place to live, and they deserve a measure of choice, that has been denied to them since Mr. Levitt built his first home.

    But to my mind, the same paranoia that gave us the Sixth Precinct is driving the opposition to the redevelopment of the Macy’s parcel.

    The floor is open.

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