Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meet the Neighbors

On the US Merchant Marine Academy’s Campus, there are several houses which are not part of the Academy. Two of these, at the top of the hill at 8 and 8A Elmridge Road, are occupied by the Alumni Association. Another house, 305 Steamboat Road, was a recent acquisition. According to, the house was bought in March 2006 for $1.5 million, and has been stricken off the Nassau County’s tax roster. It is now known as “Quarters P”, and is used for senior staff housing. What I found interesting was that the house was built in 1952, after the Academy was founded, but before the property east of Steamboat Road- including what is now the Merchant Marine Museum- became part of the Academy. (It is known as the McNulty Campus, for the name of the Superintendent who worked to acquire the property). These two roads, Steamboat and Eldridge, are still maintained by the Town of Kings Point. That also means an occasional police patrol by the local police department. Their intersection bears a distinctive road sign unique to Kings Point- a green, hanging plaque with an ornamental holder. The final house of note is at 307 Steamboat Road. What this homeowner has in common with the midshipmen of the Academy, well, is a taste for a waterfront view. Perhaps the property will become part of the Academy in the future, and end the idiosyncrasy. One thing going for Mr. Waterfront View is his home value- $5.85 million dollars that the Academy would rather spend on other capital improvements. But the waterfront view comes with a cost. Property tax? $78,221 per year, or $1.33 per $100 assessed: cash that Nassau County would loathe to lose. Back to the pros- in addition to the town cops, and Federal police patrols, there is a 24-hour, year-round security guard at the Academy’s front gate. Drawbacks? Guests need photo ID to visit without an escort. You also need to make sure that your domestic help, and any contractors, are authorized to work in the US. One idea that has come up occasionally is the creation of guest lodging on campus. Until the Maritime Administration closed the Academy’s Continuing Education program (GMATS) in 2012, one wing of the barracks was sectioned off for transient learners. Because of reduced midshipman enrollment, it became feasible in the 1990’s to take one of the seven barracks and turn it into a full-service hotel. This idea never came to pass. Today, with faculty members and adjuncts living hours from their homes- whether it be in New Jersey or Connecticut or West Virginia, the concept of a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) is being floated in casual conversation. With 6 bedrooms, isolation from NIMBY-ist neighbors, and an acre of land, 307 Steamboat is better situated than most other homes in town to become a B&B.