On Tuesday, Suffolk County legislators gave a nonprofit organization approval to use the vacant Long Island Beagle Club on Edwards Avenue, which the county purchased in 2012 for nearly $9 million. At first glance, it It seems to be a logical, mutually beneficial agreement — making use of vacant buildings and giving space to a nonprofit that needs it.
Questions remain, however, about whether it’s the best deal for the county and community.
Long Island ABATE — American Bikers for Awareness, Training & Education — approached the county directly for permission to operate at the property. And under the agreement, the property will be improved and maintained by the nonprofit, and be made open to the public. While members of the county and ABATE are both on board, it’s hard to tell if anyone else is.
Nobody else was ever brought into the loop.
Motorcycle noise can be a serious quality-of-life problem. And although Edwards Avenue is well-known as a busy road, the fact that no one reached out to the Greater Calverton Civic Association indicates a lack of consideration for the nearby Village Green neighborhoods, which will be affected. The fact that environmental groups that lobbied the county to preserve the parcel — using reserved Drinking Water Protection Program money — were not informed doesn’t seem right either. If they hadn’t banged the drum to buy the land in the first place, it wouldn’t be available today for anyone to lease. And while it’s nearly impossible to make everyone aware of everything that’s going on at the county level, the courtesy of a simple phone call or email to individuals who are sure to have a vested interest in certain matters should be expected.
It appears that ABATE has done everything by the book in getting the proper approvals to lease the former Beagle Club property. It’s the book itself — or the lack thereof — that’s troubling.
Nothing appears to have been done behind closed doors; the Suffolk County Parks Board of Trustees, the Legislature’s parks and recreation committee and the Legislature itself all voted on the measure, and the county executive still must sign it. But why wasn’t there some sort of request for proposals or bidding process? The county studies enough concepts to determine what is best for taxpayers. It should examine more thoroughly the question of whether a certain organization looking to lease county lands or buildings is best suited for the space.
If an open RFP to lease the former Beagle Club had been advertised, any number of other worthy organizations looking for space might at least have known the property was available.