Oyster Bay Land Vote Linked to Mall Debate Tuesday

This billboard near the Cerro Wire property has been advertising the anti-mall crowd's message.
This billboard near the Cerro Wire property has been advertising the anti-mall crowd’s message.

Town of Oyster Bay voters will decide in a referendum Tuesday whether the township should sell a piece of property in Syosset tied to the decades-long debate over building a mall nearby.

Proponents say that voting yes will help kill plans nearly 20 years in the works to build a mall on an adjacent vacant 39-acre plot where a Cerro Wire factory once stood. Taubman Centers, Inc., the Michigan-based firm trying to build the mall, is campaigning for a no vote because it wanted to buy the land.

“In an attempt to block the sale to another entity, Taubman has made every effort to deceive the residents,” Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said on the town’s website, but Taubman says it’s the town that’s being deceptive.

Oyster Bay Realty LLC offered to buy the 54-acre town public works facility where Robins Lane meets the Long Island Expressway for $32.5 million—25 percent above its appraised value—which was accepted by the town board, but requires voter approval.

Mall or Nothing: The Battle Over Syosset Shopping Center

Though financed by Simon Property Group, the developers of the Walt Whitman and Roosevelt Field malls, the real estate company has agreed not to build a mall on the property, according to the town.

Long Island Jobs Now, a group backed by Taubman and countering the anti-mall Cerro Wire Coalition, contends that the town sold the property in a “back room deal” for less than it’s worth to Venditto’s friends, which will force a tax increase and cuts in town services.

Venditto maintains that the sale, if approved, will help the town fill its budget gap and that the property was shopped around, but Taubman required the town to approve the mall if they bought it.

Millions have been spent on both sides for and against the proposed Mall at Oyster Bay in litigation and in public relations campaigns since Taubman bought the Cerro property. And regardless of the result of the vote, the sale will reportedly be challenged in court.

Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. For more information on where and how to vote, call the Nassau County Board of Elections at 516-571-8683.