Readers Write: GN should stick to its suburban roots as it grows

Readers Write: GN should stick to its suburban roots as it grows

Great Neck’s elected officials are united in a vision for how to improve Great Neck: transform it into a high-density urban area to create strong foot traffic for local struggling businesses.

It’s questionable if those who moved to Great Neck because of good public schools will be willing to risk school overcrowding for the sake of more good restaurants on MNR. It’s questionable if those who bought single-family houses in a quiet suburb will be welcoming apartment houses next door just to have a shopping center on the corner.

We have a couple of excellent restaurants in Great Neck and we can drive 10 minutes down to Northern Boulevard in Manhasset or Little Neck to get more. We also can order DoorDash. We live only 15 minutes away from Americana Manhasset. And Amazon deliveries are working well, too.

I understand that it’s a problem for owners of commercial real estate on Middle Neck Road and I wish them good, but not that I’m ready to pay the price for it in high taxes, overcrowded schools, traffic, etc.

While tax-exempt apartment buildings are a profitable solution for poor commercial real estate investments, they are also a very heavy burden for the community that sits on a peninsula with only two narrow roads connecting it with the highway. It’s a heavy burden for a community that drinks water from underground wells. It’s a heavy burden for a community with a suburban sewage system and a limited stormwater capacity.

Are we ready to build new schools, connect our water supply to NYC pipes, invest in urban sewage and wastewater management and widen our streets — all extremely expensive projects? I hear people complaining about high taxes, but suddenly we want to pay even more just to get new restaurants in town. Are we really ready to sacrifice the quality of suburban life, including award-winning schools, for the sake of a shopping spree not farther away than a five-minute drive? Or are these developers and commercial property owners who push for it?

Saying this, I agree that Great Neck needs transformation, a push to move forward, to attract youth, to shine. But I disagree that shine comes from restaurants or shopping malls.

We need to think about how to make the town more attractive for youth, how to make it more affordable, how to ease traffic jams, and how to bring more foot traffic to the businesses. The answer to all these questions is in making the town more bike-friendly with protected bike lanes. More and more bikers park at the train station and many school children bike, too. Families could bike to ice cream shops and to the playgrounds. But only if they feel safe on the streets. Protected bike lanes would be an excellent solution for the peninsula one can cross on a bike in 20 minutes.

We need to think about how to bring businesses that are needed to the diverse town population and are not limited to shops and restaurants that are suffering from online competition and from the local segmented food market. Our town is very much education and family-centered. We need child care, both daycare and after-school center. Parents drive kids to Little Neck and Roslyn for after-school and enrichment. We maybe need more sports clubs and entertainment, and I think the STEM center would be great. (If nothing works, I’m happier with status quo than with a ruined town. Great Neck is desirable and homestead values are up thanks to the No. 1 school district.)

Most of all we don’t need nine villages with nine town halls, nine mayors, nine sets of trustees, nine village clerks, nine building inspectors, nine secretaries, and nine tax entities. Especially not if all nine of them start building apartment houses.

Kate Goldberg

Great Neck

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