BY URI KAUFMAN
This Wednesday, Public School District 15 will hold a referendum to determine whether or not to sell the Number 6 School to Simone Development and see it turned into a mega-medical center. If you live in District 15 and you have decided to vote in just one election this year, then this is the one to cast your ballot.
You read that right. This election will have a greater impact on your quality of life than any other election. The founding fathers created a wonderful system of checks and balances (“limit the damage a fool can cause, because eventually one will be elected”). They also created short terms in office. If you don’t like the person in office, you can always bounce them out the next time around.
Candidates come and candidates go, but mega-medical centers are forever. That is why it is so important this Wednesday to come out and vote “NO.”
You probably already know that Simone plans to pave over five acres of heavily used ball fields and turn them into a parking lot. You probably also know that Simone’s center will add hundreds of cars to our streets every working hour of every day (it’ll be open seven days a week). You probably know that the $2 million that it bid more than the next bidder–a bidder that would have preserved the ball fields–amounts to a one-time payment of just $150 per taxpaying family. And, you probably know that Simone’s center will treat patients from a large catchment area and change the character of the neighborhood forever.
So let me focus on a few things that you might not know.
First of all, the much-touted economic benefits of the Simone offer are actually even less than what has been advertised. Simone claims that it will pay “$1 million a year” in taxes. It might pay that eventually–assuming the property receives a sky-high assessment. But the contract conditions Simone’s bid on its obtaining an agreement from the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency to pay far less than that for the first ten years of its operation. Don’t go spending any of that “$1 million a year,” it’ll be at least a decade before you see it. And if you’re keeping track, when it arrives, it’ll save you about $35 a year on your taxes. The Indians did better when they sold Manhattan. At least they got paid up front.
Second, the center is likely to have a very damaging effect on local doctors. I must confess that my knowledge of health care economics is very basic. I am the last person qualified to speak on the business of treating patients. What I can report to you is that of all the people I have spoken to, it is local doctors that have expressed the greatest alarm. They think the center will drive them out of business.
Finally, I just want to point out the importance of coming out to the polls and making your voice heard. As a School Board Trustee, I ran unopposed in my most recent election. But in the two elections before that, I never won by more than 180 votes. That margin is fairly typical. But there was once a school board election in our district that was decided by seven votes!
Let’s make sure our voices are heard. Let’s make sure that we preserve open space for our children and their children. Let’s preserve the quality of life, for ourselves, and for our friends and neighbors that live near Peninsula Boulevard. And let’s fight for the livelihoods of our friends and relatives that are doctors or nurses.
In short, let’s vote “NO” this Wednesday. v