The Town of North Hempstead has taken the first step toward seizure of the Roslyn Country Club to permit the renovation of a pool and park facility for public use by hiring a firm to do an appraisal of the property, Town Councilman Peter Zuckerman said last Friday.
“One of the few legal options the town has is condemnation,” said Zuckerman, who represents the 2nd District, in which the club is located. “We believe a pool and park facility of this nature could be a jewel for the community.”
“[North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi] Bosworth and I are anxious to go forward with this project,” he said. “The first step is to get the [financial] numbers and to put it to the Roslyn Country Club community to see if they’re willing to entertain it.”
He stressed the importance of gaining support from local residents since the potential cost of the condemnation would be borne by Roslyn Country Club members and people living within the special park district in which the club is located.
The Town of North Hempstead agreed to purchase more than 7.2 acres of the Roslyn Heights property from Corona Realty Holdings in 2012 for $2 million as part of the $14.2 million project to renovate the Roslyn Country Club, which was shuttered in 2007.
Under the land acquisition deal, Corona Realty Holdings would retain approximately three acres and continue to operate the Royalton at Roslyn Country Club catering hall.
The town planned to renovate the club’s pool area and tennis courts and construct a new locker room facility, playgrounds and basketball court.
But the deal was contingent on the owner of Corona Realty, Manochehr Malekan, resolving litigation over easement rights provided in the 1990s that gave residents of the Roslyn County Club development access to the country club’s pool for $100 in annual dues.
The dispute over the club dates to 2007, when Malekan took ownership of the club property under Corona Realty Holdings and shuttered it shortly thereafter.
In response to the closure, hundreds of residents sued Malekan for damages, including the one case currently pending by Andrew Rothstein, a Roslyn Heights resident and lawyer.
The suits sought monetary compensation for the closure and the decrease of home values due to the lack of recreational facilities.
Rothstein has refused to drop his case.
This year New York State Supreme Court Justice Norman Janowitz shifted Rothstein’s lawsuit to District Court because Rothstein said the damages did not exceed $20,000, according to Jaroslawicz.
Zuckerman called the move to District Court a “big disappointment to myself and Bosworth” because they “believed the court would provide the resolution we needed to go forward on the contract” with Malekan.
That contract between Malekan and the town expired on Dec. 31, 2014, but the town believed Malekan and Corona Realty Holdings would grant an extension after concluding its litigation with Rothstein, Zuckerman said.
Once completed, the park would be open to approximately 700 Roslyn Heights households located in the development built by Levitt & Sons in the 1950s that surrounds Roslyn Country Club as well as 250 to 350 town residents outside the park district, who would pay membership fees.
The town has hired Goodman Marks Associates Inc. to appraise the property at a cost of $4,000, Zuckerman said.
David Jaroslawicz, an attorney for Malekan, said his client wanted to see what the town would offer before commenting on its plan.
“If the town has a legitimate public purpose for condemnation and they offer a fair price, we won’t have to go through litigated condemnation,” Jaroslawicz said. “ If the town just wants the property or it wants less than fair value, then I expect there will be litigation.”