Oyster Bay (WALK) - It's voting day in one large Long Island town, but they're not voting for political office holders.
Residents of the town of Oyster Bay are weighing in on a developer's controversial plan to build a giant luxury mall on the old Cerro Wire site, just off the Long Island Expressway in Syosset. The town, which has been fighting Taubman Centers' mall project since the 1990s, is asking voters to approve the sale of its 54-acre public works yard adjoining the proposed mall site. If voters say yes, that would all but block teh mall project.
Oyster Bay officials want to sell the public works yard to Simon Property Group, a rival mall operator that owns Roosevelt Field, Walt Whitman Mall and Smith Haven Mall. Taubman would also like to purchase the public works property.
Opponents of the mall say Long Island is already overbuilt and doesn't need another large shopping mecca, along with the traffic and crime it can bring. Supporters say the mall project will create jobs and generate economic activity.
A court fight began in 2001 after Oyster Bay denied Taubman a special-use permit. Taubman sued, claiming the denial was unjustified, and judges decided in its favor four times, but Oyster Bay appealed each time. In 2009, an appeals court ruled that Oyster Bay was justified in its request for another environmental impact statement.
Leading up to today's vote, each side aired a slew of ads trying to win over voters. Ads from the group Long Island Jobs Now, funded by Taubman, call the town's deal with Simon a "secret sweetheart deal." The pro-sale Cerro Wire Coalition, partially funded by Simon, says that a "yes" vote will improve finances for Oyster Bay town, and increase the chance that mixed-use development will occur there, rather than a luxury amll.
Polls will be open in Oyster Bay until 9 PM tonight. Voters should go to the polls they normally use for political elections.
Photo: D. Singer