Letter to the Editor :

Regina Bykov, Patchogue

A public outreach meeting was scheduled and subsequently canceled by the developer Terwilliger & Bartone Properties to discuss concerns regarding its proposed Cornerstone Waterfront at Patchogue for Feb. 7.

I read the Letter to the Editor by Matthew Ambrosio that was published on the GreaterPatchogue website earlier that same day.

The intent of the letter was to provide the Patchogue community with an apology for canceling a meeting, which was to be held at the Oar Restaurant.

The letter stated that the proposed developer, Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, invited select residents who took the time out of their busy schedules to express their opinions and ask questions at the recent public hearing concerning the proposal for a luxury rental community at Mulford Street and West Avenue in the Village of Patchogue.

The article goes on to explain that there was a scheduling conflict with the restaurant, prompting the meeting’s cancelation.

Finally, the letter invited readers to view their new website  www.cornerstonepatchogue.com to learn more about the proposed project.

I visited the website as directed. The website indicates that the proposal includes a 50-unit luxury apartment building, including rooftop patio with fireplace and fitness area.

Plans also include upgrading the property’s marina building into a modern clubhouse for marina patrons with showers, rooftop deck and amenities.

Future residents at the Cornerstone Waterfront will have the right of first refusal for rental of the marina’s 55 boat slips. The website also indicates that working with the community to ensure the proposal fits the neighborhood and community at-large is a core tenant of what the developer does.

It goes on to indicate that this proposal will transform a former industrial site to residential use to match the surrounding residential area and add public access to proposed green space.

Currently the privately owned properties, which are located on either side of the end of Mulford Street and are not connected to each other, includes parking lots, a marina building and a dock along the river.

Lastly, the website indicated that a letter from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was issued to confirm the site is clean, as it was formally used to store petroleum products.

I am a resident who lives on Mulford Street and who has enjoyed living here for five years. I have witnessed this village grow and thrive. As a resident that lives on Mulford Street, I am proud to be a part of this family-oriented neighborhood, a neighborhood which is comprised of predominantly single- and two-family homes, filled with history and charming characteristic.

One thing that I have noticed in the past two to three years is that homes that have been run down are being renovated, inviting an influx of young professionals and families eager to be part of this wonderful neighborhood.

This is certainly not the same neighborhood it was five years ago, as it continues to change in this way for the better. Since becoming aware of the Cornerstone proposal, residents in our neighborhood have expressed extreme concern and opposition to the project in its current form.

There was a strong showing at the Jan. 22 Planning Board meeting where residents, including myself, were given the opportunity to voice these concerns.

The following are only some of the significant and strong concerns that have been expressed regarding crucial elements of the planned development:

• The proposed development does not fit into this predominantly residential (single- and two-family homes) neighborhood. While it may be true that the west side of Patchogue River is occupied by various commercial and industrial uses and condo/apartment developments, ours is a neighborhood predominately comprised of homes as opposed to these types of developments.

I believe many would like to keep it this way, and think that smart development should allow for this. This planned development does not conform to other properties in our neighborhood, and contrary to what the developer has stated on its website, I do not believe that consideration to ensure this proposal fits into the neighborhood was applied.

• Additional Traffic Congestion. There is an existing traffic problem in our neighborhood. Cars routinely speed through the neighborhood and do not stop at stop signs. Mulford Street is used as a “cut-though” between South Ocean Avenue and West Avenue, bringing through additional traffic from outside of this neighborhood.

There is traffic that becomes backed up at the railroad crossings and Waverly Avenue leaving the village. A large development like the one being proposed will inevitably lead to increased traffic on a road where a traffic problem already exists.

This will not only affect Mulford Street but will also affect our neighbors on surrounding side streets

• Parking concerns. Parking in our neighborhood is inadequate for the current residents as-is, and is only compounded during the summer when The Oar restaurant is operating at its peak.

A large development like the one being proposed will inevitably lead to additional people and visitors seeking alternate parking that simply does not exist and again, this will not only affect Mulford Street but will also affect our neighbors on surrounding side streets.

Additionally, review of the proposal indicates that that the project is seeking a parking variance for a reduction of 16 parking spaces required by village code.

• Environmental concerns. Although the developer has indicated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provided a letter stating that the site was confirm cleaned, no record of this has been provided.

Based upon the site’s prior use, it is reasonable to assume that there may be contamination impacting the soil and/or groundwater at this site.

Additionally, since attending the Village Planning Board Hearing on Jan. 22, it is my understanding that only a Short Environmental Assessment Form, has been completed. This is the “bare-minimum” requirement for environmental assessment.

I do not believe that preparation of an SEAF is an adequate environmental assessment for this location or proposal considering that this site has historically been used for petroleum storage, there is significant potential for negative impacts to soil and groundwater quality, and there is significant potential for negative impacts to the surrounding community.

Instead, a full complete environmental impact statement should be prepared to evaluate significant adverse environmental impacts and include alternatives to the proposed project to be considered.

• Village code compliance. At the Planning Board hearing it was stated that building construction is proposed on property that is zoned C Residence, not Industrial, and that a zoning change would not be requested.

The village code provides that height restriction of C Residence District shall be the same as in the A Residence District and requires Planning Board approval.

While I have requested the building and site plans through a F.O.I.L. request, I have not had the opportunity to review these in-depth. It appears from the rendering that I have seen that the proposed building exceeds three stories, and likely also exceeds 35 feet high.

• Finally, and most concerning to me, is proposed river access does not adequately compensate for the substantial drawbacks of this proposal.

Residents already have easy access to the river in short walking distance at the end of Mulford Street, a public right-of-way that I believe is owned by the village.

As I understand, this project is proposing acquisition of the public right of way at the end of Mulford Street.

As proposed, the building will be constructed across this Mulford Street and include an arch tunnel only 10- feet high at the center. The building will significantly block our existing access to the river and will severely limit views to the river that we currently enjoy.

Proposing a green area with benches that residents will be “allowed” access to should not be considered payback to the community for the development.

Additionally, while I have not been able to confirm at this time if it is true that the village is entertaining the sale of the end of Mulford Street, I do not believe that village should have the right or authority to vacate or sell public rights of way for purposes of furthering interests of private parties.

I do believe this site will ultimately be developed.

With that said, there is a significant amount of work that must be done during this initial planning stage to address the community’s concerns and identify a compromised plan that can presented again to the village Planning Board.

It is evident when one takes a trip through Patchogue that developers, and the village, have fared well and been granted many lucrative opportunities.

As this proposed plan stands, it is evident that the property owner and developer stand to gain a significant amount of benefit at the expense of the existing neighborhood and its residents.

Currently, I believe that the project, as proposed, is overwhelmingly detrimental to the existing residents of this neighborhood and to the wellbeing and the character of it.

I think it is time for the Planning Board and Village Board member to put existing residents and community wellbeing ahead of outside, corporate interests.