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Public SpacePrivate Benefit

Public Space Private Benefit

Nassau taxpayers spent millions to preserve open space, but much of the land is not easy to find – and some well-connected insiders were big winners.

This Glen Cove preserve is among 18 sites the county bought using $100 million in borrowed money.

While taxpayers spent nearly $5 million for the land, they might not even know it exists.

Ringed by houses, the property was one of the first targeted by the Nassau program that ultimately protected roughly 300 acres from development.

Then, a county political appointee sold a portion of his family’s land to extend the preserve.

He and his two siblings, through their family trust, got $600,000 in the deal.

In all, people with ties to county officials or those involved in selecting properties sold their land for about $30 million.

At some of those sites and others, the county never followed through on plans to truly open these spaces to the public.

The county did not promote them, build trails or install benches.

At a few of the spots, there’s no access at all. How did this happen?

Read the full Newsday investigation

This project was written and reported by Paul LaRocco

Production: James Stewart, Will Welch, Pradeep Bhatee, Tara Conry, Tim Healy, Matthew Cassella

Photo Credits: Raychel Brightman, John Paraskevas, Jeffrey Basinger