Voters Kill Lafazan Sport MegaPlex Plan


by Maureen Daly Syosset voters killed a scheme, developed by Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D-Syosset) and his allies on the Syosset School Board, to purchase and develop 35 acres of the pristine 270 acre Stillwell Woods Preserve into a sports mega-complex with a concert arena. The referendum revealed the backroom land deals that politicians often broker and conceal from the public, and has prompted demands for Lafazan to resign. Last month, Syosset school voters were presented a question on whether to approve the School Board's purchase of 35 acres of the Stillwell Woods Preserve from Nassau County, which owns the park. They rejected the deal 1,526 to 1,437. Lafazan had announced earlier this year that he had brokered a deal with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) to build a sports complex in the Stillwell Woods Preserve and for the Syosset School District to purchase the 35 acres from the county for the complex. Lafazan also met with Syosset School officials to broker their end of the deal. According to Nassau Legislature staff, the county was to pay the Syosset school district $3 million toward “improving” a portion of the 270-acre North Shore preserve. The school district was then going to pay $7.5 million, taking $2 million from reserve funds and borrowing $5.5 million, to purchase the land, cut-down the woods, and build a new sports complex. The referendum would have approved the transfer of 35 acres from Nassau County to the Syosset School District, but the deal would still have required the approval of the Nassau and NYS Legislatures, which never happened. The outgoing, Lafazan-dominated, Syosset School Board endorsed and urged voters to approve the referendum. Lafazan was elected to the Syosset School Board in 2012 and served until 2018. He was elected to the Nassau County Legislature in 2017. During the nine years since Lafazan was first elected, he has run and backed favored candidates for the Syosset School Board, who have taken control. Lafazan sat on the Board that hired the current Superintendent, Thomas Rogers, and current School Board President Tracy Frankel has been described as “a creature” of Lafazan. The referendum dominated the recent school elections in Syosset. Senior citizens complained that they received no notice, and other area residents were upset about the cost to local property owners and the loss of 35 acres of natural woodlands. Still others opposed the erection of a potentially noisy sports complex. Nassau County would have retained a right-of-usage over the sports amphitheatre, and residents expressed their concern that the arena could become a music concert venue. In addition to losing the land purchase referendum, the Lafazan insider school board candidates lost to insurgents: The “outsiders” Shany Park, 1,704 votes; Brian Grieco, 1,664 votes; Lisa Coscia, 1,391 votes, all won, defeating the “insiders” Lynn Abramson, 957 votes; Mitchell Lieberman, 910 votes; and Rob Sharma, 899 votes, who all lost. Folllowing the referendum defeat, over 100 local residents staged a protest in Syosset to demand that Lafazan resign. “Lafazan was trying to sell our natural woodlands to his crony land developers to aggrandize himself,” stated Paolo Pironi, Lafazan’s Republican opponent. “He was willing to damage our quality of life, to advance his own political career.”