Millenials, be careful what you wish for. The very situation Mr. Kadden desires (Sept. 8) – to have more people residing in Great Neck – may in fact create adverse conditions that make Great Neck a less desirable place to live. As it presently stands, the unending approval and construction of multi-story dwellings will lead us to overdevelopment. That is why residents are protesting and writing letters in order to protect their single greatest investment – their homes. It is a fact that a single-family house (on Steamboat Road near Cornelia Street) lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in value when the homeowner sold because a new, densely packed project was built practically on top of his house.
We live on a narrow peninsula. We can therefore accommodate only a limited population, especially since the only exit we have is to the south. Even if every single person in Great Neck agreed that we should substantially increase our existing population, we would still need to evaluate and critically assess the long-range consequences. If the negatives outweigh the positives, we must pull back and make appropriate adjustments to our plans. I’m not against change. Certainly, buildings that are old and decrepit should be renovated or replaced.
The overdevelopment of Great Neck may adversely affect every one of us. Our mayors therefore have to work as a unit to make decisions regarding new development. Because local mayors tend to lack urban planning experience, we should consider consulting professional urban planners, but only if it can be determined there is no conflict of interest. Perhaps the Great Neck community can enlist the services of a Hofstra or Adelphi professor. Real estate developers are not the ones to ask for advice – they cannot be expected to be objective.
I have several specific points to make in response to Mr. Kadden’s statements.
1) Mr. Kadden bemoans the fact that he won’t be able to move right back to Great Neck as a young adult. It’s no secret why Great Neck is part of the “Gold Coast.” It’s never been expected that young people just starting out will be able to afford to live here!
2) Although Middle Neck Road has not been thriving over the past several years, the Covid pandemic has created many more store vacancies. This is not a problem limited to Great Neck. It will take special efforts to reinvigorate our commercial corridor given this caliber of disaster.
3) Why were stores failing even before the pandemic? With a population of about 30,000 people, we SHOULD be able to support the stores on the peninsula. I don’t think that, as Mr. Kadden says, we need more people in order to bolster the local businesses. Perhaps we need different stores that would be more popular. Lack of easy and accessible parking remains a critical issue. Look at Chico’s as an example. They closed their one store in Great Neck on Middle Neck Road specifically because the lack of parking made it too difficult for their customers to shop.
4) It has been estimated that 500-600 apartment units are slated to rise (or have recently been built) on the peninsula. This means much more than the 1 percent increase in population that Mr. Kadden estimates. If the developers have their way, even more units will be added. All they care about is covering every possible square foot of space with a building.
5) We all know that our roadways are already overcrowded. It can only get worse as we add more people and cars. We’ll also need more parking spots, which are already at a premium. Where will everyone park at the LIRR station?
6) Increased traffic is not the only possible negative consequence. If we add more and more people, it means more garbage trucks and more room needed to store garbage. We’ll also need more water. Remember that we get all of our water from underground aquifers, some of which have already been damaged by saltwater intrusion. We do not have an unending water supply. This is a big-picture issue—it’s not just Great Neck we’re talking about, but all of Long Island. How many more people can we reasonably fit with our limited resources?
To summarize, we’d all like to see Great Neck revitalized. What’s important is to consider what changes will actually enhance our quality of life, rather than creating new problems that can’t be fixed. With the help of urban planning professionals, we need a coordinated plan across all villages that takes into account the needs of the diverse demographic groups on our peninsula.
Village of Great Neck