Lot on Udall’s Park might be developed 1

The Parks Department might accept the donation of a parcel of land next to Udall’s Park Preserve from a group of investors who would like the tax liens on the property to be bought and the back taxes on it to be forgiven.

A quarter acre of land that could be built upon next to the ravine part of Udall’s Park Preserve will instead be donated to the Parks Department if a tax lien issue is resolved.

The parcel is Block 8112, Lot 70, and faces 247th Street.

Jonathan Marcus, one of several people who owns the land, said they will donate it if they do not have to pay arrears on it afterward.

If the tax liens are not paid for and the taxes are not forgiven, Marcus says that they plan on developing the land.

“If this doesn’t work out then we have every intention of developing it,” Marcus said. “I don’t even want to the think of the consequences on that park. We don’t want to go down that path.”

If it were developed, he added, condos might be built there. Utilities to the area would need to be made available and a road would have to be built to make the parcel, which is landlocked, accessible.

The tax liens and back taxes are worth around $24,000. The investors would also get tax write-offs from the donation.

According to land use expert Paul Graziano, it is not likely that the land could be developed.

“The basic issue is whether they’d even be able to get road access,” Graziano said. “If the city doesn’t want to build a road, they don’t have to. ... They could probably go to court to demand that the city has to give them access but the city could say, ‘We don’t have the resources to do it.’”

The Parks Department recently sent a letter about the parcel to Marcus that he said addressed other issues surrounding the parcel, but not the tax liens.

“It was favorable in the sense that they said yes we want this land and we want to successfully navigate the procedure with you,” Marcus said. According to the investor, the agency also indicated that it would undertake the Phase 1 environmental analysis.

“This is such a small amount of money,” he said.

“The property donation would be an important addition to the existing limits of Udall’s Park Preserve, and we look forward to working with Mr. Marcus to complete the City’s donation and due diligence process,” Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said in an emailed statement.

“The City is prepared to complete certain requirements as part of the process, specifically the Title Report and Phase I Environmental Site Assessment to determine if there are any recognized environmental conditions,” the department said. “As part of the process moving forward, the land owner must provide Parks with a survey of the property.”

Udall’s Park Preservation Committee President Walter Mugdan is confident that the donation will happen.

“Everybody agrees it’s good thing and they want to make it happen, but it takes a while for these steps to be gone through,” he said, adding that his organization is in contact with the Parks Department and that it has offered its assistance.

There are other plots of land nearby that could be donated, he added. The ravine portion of the park that Block 8112, Lot 70 is in is mostly public land, though about four and a half acres of it is private, according to Mugdan.

“Everyone’s preferred solution is that the city just take the donation and write off the tax lien,” Trust for Public Land Project Manager Ben Weiland said. “We’re trying to help the Udall’s Preservation Committee to make sure this property gets protected.”

Weiland added that the Trust for Public Land — which helps communities acquire land for public use — could play a role in the city’s acceptance of the donation.

“We’re just trying to see if there’s a place for us to help,” he said. “If there’s something that they can’t get done or don’t have the contacts to get done, we’re trying to assist.”

Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said his office is also working to speed up the donation.

“Our office is working with the Parks Department, Law Department and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee to address the tax issue and expedite the acquisition of this parcel,” Vallone said in an emailed statement.

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