The two sides to the March 20 referendum on the Number 6 School property sale could not be clearer: Voting “No” is to oppose a terrible idea that will forever destroy the nature of a pleasant, suburban community we love and chose as a place to live and raise our families. Voting “Yes” is to support building a mammoth medical center in a small, suburban community causing crime, traffic, and pollution to rise, while permanently reducing our personal safety, home values, and quality-of-life.
But from the junk mail Simone is sending out, and the newspaper ads they place, it is clear they and those who stand to gain from this disastrous proposal are trying very hard to confuse the issue.
They want to change the subject by trying to “educate” us about how wonderful a medical center is. But we’re a pretty well educated community already, and I think we’re all smart enough to know the benefits of a “state-of-the-art” medical center and that the “benefits” are NOT the issue.
There is simply no room for Simone’s WestMed medical center on the #6 School property. The amount of traffic it will bring, the amount of parking it will require, and the number of people it will bring each day is far too great for this property to contain. It is too much for this neighborhood to accommodate.
Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean we need it. Think of it like this. An airport is an absolutely marvelous concept. It holds enormous airplanes, which land and take off, and give people the ability to travel anywhere in the world at a reasonably low cost, in relative safety and comfort. But as wonderful as an airport is, do you want an airport in the middle of the Five Towns? I doubt it. We already have one nearby, and it’s already too close.
Sports arenas like Madison Square Garden are wonderful. You go there for basketball and hockey games, concerts, or the circus. Does it make sense to build an arena like Madison Square Garden in the center of the Five Towns? Definitely not. What about one half the size? Still, no.
South Nassau Hospital is right in the middle of what used to be a quiet residential part of Oceanside. It has beautiful landscaping, by the way. It’s also a gigantic presence that draws thousands of cars, trucks, and people a day. It started small, but over the years became an 800 lb. gorilla that crowds out the quiet, suburban peace and quiet that attracted the same people who can’t sell their homes for anywhere near what they’d be worth if they weren’t in the shadow of a huge medical center.
The ads and mailers try to distract you with lower taxes. I know we all want our taxes to go down, but when you review the math, you can see that Simone’s numbers are baloney. The fact is, if the Simone WestMed Medical Center is built (even if they don’t apply for New York State economic development tax rebates), even the rosiest estimates of how much money District 15 families stand to save annually is close to $35.
And we won’t even get that. Just the added cost of upgrading and maintaining sewers and water to maintain the new facility will require an increase in your Nassau County and Town of Hempstead taxes. And just wait until Simone files for a tax refund. Every penny of the promised “tax revenue” will be lost, and then some.
Talk to any independent tax professional, or call the Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes yourself. Expect your blood will boil when you realize that Simone’s proposal, even if it slightly lowers school taxes, will quickly INCREASE Nassau County and Town of Hempstead taxes.
What about local jobs? The WestMed ads promise that the center will bring more jobs to the community. Don’t count on it. When WestMed talks about employment, they mean employing efficient staff solutions that place most of its reception, secretarial, and scheduling personnel in remote service centers. Don’t count on it being anywhere near the Five Towns. In fact, when you call WestMed’s 800-number required to schedule an appointment, the representative who answers most likely will be in another state, and most definitely will have no idea who you are.
Meanwhile, building a large corporate-backed medical center in the middle of a community that currently has hundreds of medical practices, will almost surely put many existing practices out of business. Nearly all the people they employ living in this community and nearby will be out of work.
The medical center will kill the local job market.
When all these medical practices go under, the local commercial real estate market will be soon to follow. Right now, there are dozens of medical buildings in the area, with more being built. They line Central Avenue, Rockaway Turnpike, Broadway, and other parts of this community. Without private medical practices and diagnostic centers as tenants, they will be empty. Less commercial rental income will cause property taxes to rise even higher.
There is virtually no upside to allowing Simone to build a WestMed center in the heart of our community. If we allow it, they will drastically lower our property values, jeopardize our safety, increase pollution, cause heavy traffic, and ruin our roads.
Contrary to everything Simone claims, if we let them build this medical center, our taxes will increase, scores of local jobs will be lost, and the level of choice and access to local, high-quality medical care that we now enjoy will most definitely be lost.
The damage will reach far beyond Peninsula Blvd and Rockaway Turnpike. It will have a detrimental effect in all parts of the Five Towns—from Inwood to Hewlett, back Lawrence to Hewlett Neck, and everywhere between.
We must prevent this. The only way is for every eligible voter living in District 15 to vote NO on March 20.
P.S. A candidate for NYC Council, who would have been especially beneficial for our neighbors in Far Rockaway, just lost a special election by just 79 votes. It’s another hard lesson that every vote counts. The Number 6 School referendum is far from decided—the same way we can win, we can just as easily lose. But the risk of losing is irreparable damage to our community. Please vote, bring your friends and family to vote, and urge everyone you can to vote No on March 20.