You are a tourist driving through Syosset on Robbins Lane. You pass by the five star Robbins Lane Elementary School, a pizza store, AMF bowling, and a bagel shop. After all, what street in Long Island, let alone New York, doesn’t have bagels? You notice that nothing there is very exciting – a bunch of stores and a few small restaurants. As you continue your commute towards the entrance of the LIE, you get stuck behind a railroad. While waiting for the train to pass, you notice a massive sign that reads “Smart Growth in Syosset!” You think to yourself “That sounds like a great idea, this town definitely needs some growth.” The train passes by and you are immersed by a massive plot of land consisting of dirt and uncut grass. You think back to the sign and remember that it reads “Learn more at,” and wonder it has anything to do with the huge plot of land to your left. A park sounds like such a simple solution, but adding some life back to Syosset, specifically Robbins Lane, wasn’t always so easy.

Sign right before landfill cite

In the mid-late 1990’s, Taubman Centers had a plan to build a massive “mega-mall” at the site of the former Cerro-wire/Syosset landfill. After almost two decades (about 18 years), and years of opposition from homeowners in Syosset, the plan to build a luxury mall has changed to a park. After Taubman Centers sold the land to Simon Property Group (the same company that owns Roosevelt Field Mall) in 2014, there has been a change of plans. Simon Property Group has brought along Castagna Realty, the same developer that owns Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza. The developers have hopes of building a beautiful 30-acre park, including 625 houses, two hotels, and 350,000 square feet of shops, services, space for offices, restaurants, and even a movie theater.

Panorama of gated site

Residents in Syosset absolutely love the idea of the proposed park, and the project has received positive feedback from residents in public meetings. A major concern includes the rainwater runoff, especially when thinking back to when Cerro Wire used the land as a landfill. The developers, on the other hand, say that the re-purposing of the land is actually beneficial. In addition to the landfill issue, another problem the developers addressed are the traffic impacts. Instead of just drawing a plan and posting it online, the developers are taking the concerns of the people and making it work in their plans. They are working with the people.

In communities such as Syosset in Nassau County, most of the residents are wealthy, with a median household income of over $150,000. However, in communities with lesser incomes, the developers usually hold control over what happens. This is where the question of power arises – who has more power, the people or the developers?

About one month ago, I had the pleasure to meet and speak with both Mr. Frank Castagna, owner of Castagna Realty, as well as one of his associates. Although Mr. Castagna is not directly involved with the building of Syosset Park, he explained the history of his company and how they strive to work with the community. In fact, developers state that the park will generate about $20 million in new property tax revenue and $12 million which will be available to the Syosset Central School District. I live next to one of Castagna’s projects, and I can proudly say that Mr. Castagna and his team have worked with the community throughout the years.

On the other side, I spoke with a resident of Syosset – my coworker. I was able to ask her a series of questions to see how she felt about the proposed mall, and what she knew about the opposition in the past years. She told me she thinks the park is a better idea than the mall because of the elementary school nearby (where her daughter attended), where the children can go play on their free time, but she is worried about the runoff water from the landfill. I explained that Castagna Realty and Simon Property Group have and will work with the people, and that they are aware of the runoff problem. She also mentioned that there is a gym across the street from the park, and that it would be nice to get a workout in and then sit outside and enjoy the weather afterwards. When asking about the history and opposition people had to the mall, she explained that the same sign that now reads “Smart Growth In Syosset” used to say things such as “Shut Down The Mall!” We see a clear power struggle – the same sign the developers use to promote their ideas has been used to shut them down in the past. In the end, the Syosset community seems content with the park, and the developers know they need to hold up their end because the people of Syosset can and will fight back.

Works Cited

NO MALL HERE! — Official Website of the Cerro Wire Coalition — Syosset, NY,

Murdocco, Rich. “Syosset Park Is Going to Be a Great Place-Someday, Maybe.” Long Island News from the Long Island Press, 5 Apr. 2016,

Longislandpress. “New Syosset Park Proposal Buries The Mall Once And For All, But Does It Go Far Enough?” Long Island News from the Long Island Press, 14 Apr. 2015,

Olson, David. “Developers Unveil Drawings of Syosset Project.” Newsday, Newsday, 26 Mar. 2018,

Saslow, Linda. “Plan for Luxury Mall In Syosset Advances.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Feb. 1996,

“Sign the Petition.”,

“Sign the Petition.”,

“Syosset Park.” Syosset Park,

Winzelberg, David. “Public Meeting on Syosset Mega-Project.” Long Island Business News,

Winzelberg, David. “Court Overturns Decision on Taubman Mall.” Long Island Business News,


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