Members of Deepdale Golf Club in North Hills, N.Y., have acquired an important new ally in their battle against the town’s mayor, who wants to seize the exclusive retreat through eminent domain. The latest to join the fight is the New York Senate, which passed a bill June 5 that would prohibit municipalities within the town of North Hempstead, North Hills among them, from taking private recreational facilities in order to use the facility for the same purpose as the private owner.
The legislation carried 56-2, and the sponsor, Sen. Michael Balboni, a Republican who represents the Seventh District on Long Island, said one of the dissenters felt the bill was not strong enough.
It now goes to the New York Assembly for consideration, and that body likely will take action before the session ends June 22. If it gets through the Assembly, it would go to Gov. George Pataki, who would need to sign the bill into law.
The impetus for the action by Balboni, whose district encompasses an area that includes Deepdale, came primarily from a desire to protect private property owners from having land arbitrarily seized by government authorities. But his move also stemmed from a wish to protect the Great Neck School District from losing $350,000 that would disappear if the golf club came off the tax rolls. In addition, Deepdale sits on a groundwater protection area, and Balboni, 47, asserts that North Hills mayor Marvin Natiss wants to build condominiums along one portion of the course.
Balboni, an occasional duffer who once played Deepdale in a charity outing, says he put the bill together after hearing repeatedly from concerned constituents in his golf-rich district once the desires of Natiss to seize Deepdale became known this spring.
“The mayor told me that all he was doing was what the law permitted him to,” he says. “So we are trying to change the law to make sure something like that cannot – and does not – happen.”