Continuing his efforts on behalf of Kings Park residents, Senator John J. Flanagan (R,C-East Northport) today sent a letter to Governor George E. Pataki requesting the postponement of the sale of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center (KPPC) until several critically important issues are resolved concerning the property.
"The redevelopment of the KPPC property represents a valuable opportunity to return idle property to productive use," Senator Flanagan said. "But as the closing date for the sale of the property approaches, there are still unresolved issues that need to be addressed by the State, the Town of Smithtown, and the people of Kings Park. It is imperative that the Governor postpone the sale to allow for a more thorough examination of the sale’s impact on the community, and additional time for community input on the future redevelopment of this property."
Over the last several weeks, Senator Flanagan has had numerous discussions with the Governor’s Office and Empire State Development (ESD) regarding the sale of KPPC. Citing public concern over the future redevelopment of the property and its impact on school district enrollment, traffic congestion and overall quality of life, Senator Flanagan has asked Governor Pataki to postpone the sale of the property until the following issues have been resolved:
1) The Town of Smithtown’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) is amended to clarify appropriate zoning and planning of the area to be developed at KPPC;
2) Consideration of the potential loss of annual tax payments by the State of New York to the Kings Park School District in the amount of $845,000, and how to mitigate or eliminate the shift of that revenue loss to the local property taxpayer;
3) The costs for remediating KPPC are accurately assessed and all available funding sources for environmental clean-up are identified and actively pursued; and
4) The community and local town officials are actively engaged in an effort to achieve a project that is complementary of the surrounding community and is acceptable to all affected parties.
"It is clear from the invitation to bid that Empire State Development has the option of delaying the sale indefinitely, if not the sole authority to withdraw the offer on this property altogether," said Flanagan. "Delaying the sale allows my office to work with the Town in securing state approval for the amended LWRP, resolve the annual tax payment to the Kings Park school district, actively pursue additional dollars for the environmental cleanup, and allow for additional time to develop specific development proposals."
Senator Flangan noted that amending the Town of Smithtown’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program is a critical component of the redevelopment process and still remains unresolved. An LWRP, which must be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State, is used by a municipality to protect and develop a community’s waterfront property, and provides clear direction and specificity as to how land may be developed. The Town’s original LWRP was filed with the Department of State in 1989, but lacks clarity with respect to the appropriate zoning and planning of the area to be developed at KPPC. While an application has been submitted to amend the 1989 plan, the Department of State has notified the Town that the application needs further clarification before it can be approved. With the approved amendment in place, the Town can better control the planning process, provide a blueprint for redevelopment and allay public concerns as to the future of this property. The delay of the sale of KPPC will give the Town of Smithtown more time to properly amend its LWRP.
"It is important to understand that the LWRP is essential in helping the Town of Smithtown control its zoning options over the KPPC property," said Senator Flanagan. "Delaying the sale allows my office to work with the Town in securing state approval for the amended LWRP."
Flanagan noted that earlier this year he passed a bill in the State Senate (S.5878) that would postpone the sale of KPPC property for eighteen months, and create a special Task Force specifically designed to give the Kings Park community greater input as to how the site is eventually developed. The legislation, unanimously passed by the Senate, is awaiting action in the Assembly.
Under the provisions of the bill, the sale of the 368-acre site would be postponed until December 15, 2006 for the purpose of constituting the Kings Park Land Redevelopment Task Force, a nine-member panel comprised of representatives of the Town of Smithtown, the Kings Park school district, local civic associations, local chambers of commerce, and an environmental expert. Members would be selected for their expertise in land use and redevelopment strategies, economic development knowledge, and/or involvement in local community issues for the purpose of developing specific recommendations as to the best possible reuse of the KPPC land and buildings.