Living In: Massapequa Park, N.Y.: A Homey Village Amid Suburban Sprawl

Living in

Massapequa Park, N.Y.: A Homey Village Amid Suburban Sprawl

Buyers will find a range of options in this village on the South Shore of Long Island, from modest starter homes to large waterfront houses with docks.

By Marcelle Sussman Fischler

A decade ago, Matt and Mary Vetro moved from Long Beach, N.Y., to Massapequa Park, on the South Shore of Long Island, where they paid $390,000 for a 1,500-square-foot Cape Cod-style house, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, on a 60-by-100-foot lot.

“It was a perfect starter house for us,” said Mr. Vetro, now 39, who works in information technology sales. He and Ms. Vetro, 40, a high school teacher, both grew up in Merrick, N.Y., about five miles west, and they were determined to stay on the South Shore. They looked at homes from Merrick to Massapequa. Ultimately, lower taxes in Massapequa Park, a village of 17,000 in the town of Oyster Bay, clinched the deal.

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By The New York Times

Since then, they have had three children — now 9, 6 and 2 — and finished the basement. Recently, however, they decided they needed “a bigger house to spread out a little,” but they wanted to stay in the village.

“Quite honestly, we love it here,” Mr. Vetro said. The neighborhood and McKenna Elementary School, which two of their children attend, “made it hard to leave.”

In December, the Vetros went into contract on a fully renovated, 3,000-square-foot colonial house, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms, less than half a mile away, for about $800,000. Then they listed their Cape Cod for $489,000, and were in contract for $479,000 within three weeks.

“The town is perfect, a great socioeconomic community for my socioeconomic status,” Mr. Vetro said, though he lamented the lack of diversity. “There are a ton of parks, which make it very appealing.”

The Vetros’ new house is a block from the Massapequa Preserve, a 432-acre park with walking, running and biking trails, and Mansfield Park, where there are trails, soccer fields and baseball diamonds. In Massapequa Park, Mr. Vetro said, sports — from Little League to the Police Activity League and Massapequa Mustangs youth football — are taken “very seriously.”

A public boat ramp at John J. Burns Park provides access to Great South Bay.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Add to that a downtown with a burgeoning restaurant and bar scene that appeals to a younger crowd that lives within walking distance, and there is much to recommend this amenity-rich, homey village in the midst of suburban sprawl.

“There really is a ‘village’ feel, a real community,” said Dina Santorelli, a 20-year resident, who raised three children in Massapequa Park with her husband, Thomas Rhein, a former captain with Rescue Company 3 of the Massapequa Fire District. “From the Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving to the Christmas tree lighting to the annual fireworks at Walker Park every Fourth of July, there really is that old-time, best-of-Long-Island-days-gone-by sense here. Friendly people, good neighbors.”

Driving around the village, “it’s not uncommon to see people renovating their homes, putting on extensions, new roofs, new siding and new fences,” said Ms. Santorelli, 50, a novelist whose “Baby Grand” trilogy includes a scene in Brady Park, which has a tournament-grade Little League field, a trio of picnic areas overlooking a trout-stocked lake and a community center.

Patricia Birney, 61, downsized from a five-bedroom house in neighboring Massapequa, which she sold for $565,000, to a three-bedroom home in the village that she bought for $505,000 last summer. The upkeep is less expensive and the taxes are lower, but also, “in this neighborhood there are kids playing all the time,” said Ms. Birney, whose children are grown and out of the house. “It’s like a small town. It was a good move.”

The village of Massapequa Park is 2.2 square miles, on the southeastern edge of Nassau County. Bordered by the Southern State Parkway to the north and South Oyster Bay to the south, the village cuts a rectangular swath through the unincorporated areas of the Massapequas.

Sunrise Highway plows a four-lane, east-west path through the village, bracketed on the north by the elevated Long Island Rail Road tracks and commercial ventures to the south.


6 SKYLARK ROAD | A five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1968 on a 0.23-acre waterfront lot, listed for $1.199 million. 516-795-3456CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

The village center runs north from the train station along Park Boulevard, with a pocket-size village square and a stretch of blocks lined with shops and restaurants. Village Hall is around the corner on Front Street.

Merrick Road, the other main east-west artery, is home to Massapequa High School’s main campus, the Southgate shopping center, churches, stores, restaurants and the 52-acre John J. Burns Park, with its tennis courts, playing fields and summer concert series.

A branch of the Massapequa library is at the corner of Harbor Lane. Across the road are the Southgate condominiums, one of the village’s few condo complexes.

Homes between the two thoroughfares include Cape Cods, ranch houses, English Tudors, colonials and craftsman-style dwellings with porches, most on 60-by-100-foot lots. There are also “dozens of knockdowns,” said Elaine Patterson, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, many of them replaced by two-story houses in the last six years. Builders have targeted the area because homes there aren’t subject to the restrictions that were placed on property below Merrick Road after Hurricane Sandy, Ms. Patterson said.


58 WHITE COVE WALK | A five-bedroom, three-bathroom split-level house, built in 1956 on a 0.25-acre lot, listed for $839,990. 516-546-6300CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

South of Merrick Road, in Bar Harbor, waterfront homes sit high on quarter-acre lots with direct views of South Oyster Bay. Some have docks; others have canals with bulkheads running along the edge of their backyards, where boats are kept.

At the end of Whitewood Drive, Colleran Park, a quiet green space with a playground, also overlooks the bay.

As of Jan. 24, there were 52 houses on the market, from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1961 ranch house for $339,900 to a renovated 2004 house with five bedrooms, four full and two half bathrooms, and a dock on South Oyster Bay, for $2.499 million.

Starter homes — expanded Capes priced from $450,000 to $600,000 — “fly off the shelf,” Ms. Patterson said, with multiple bids on homes up to $700,000. North of Merrick Road, new homes replacing knockdowns can fetch over $800,000.


402 VIOLET STREET | A three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom house, built in 1960 on a 0.16-acre lot, listed for $450,000. 516-678-1510CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

About a quarter of buyers are downsizing; the rest are first-time homeowners or locals who want larger homes or to be on the water, she said.

Last year, 185 properties sold, at an average price of $534,517; the average time on the market was 59 days. Sales prices increased 21 percent from 2017 to 2018, said John Succoso, manager of the Douglas Elliman office in Massapequa.

Jeffrey Bigay, an associate broker at Signature Premier Properties, said buyers have a wide range of options, from pricey waterfront homes in the Bar Harbor enclave to more moderately priced Cameo townhouses near the Southern State Parkway. “If someone is not looking to spend $830,000, they can spend $450,00 to $500,000,” Mr. Bigay said, adding that there is a “nice diversity” among the residents. “They could be police officers, they could work on Wall Street.”

Along Park Boulevard, in the heart of the village, residents can visit the dry cleaners, the post office, the hardware store, nail salons, the Bestever Bakery and doctors in the medical building, stopping for lunch at the Good Life, an English-style pub, or Umberto’s pizza.

“We are seeing more and more restaurants coming in,” said Jamie E. Bogenshutz, president of the Massapequa Chamber of Commerce. “For a downtown kind of feeling, that is the place to go.”


CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

On weekdays, locals savor cinnamon-bun French toast for breakfast at Jam; Brie blueberry thyme pancakes and champagne also entice weekend brunchers. For dinner, they walk to Bacaro for Italian fare, and the Tap Room or Johnny McGorey’s Pub for food and musical entertainment.

“They really revitalized that area,” said Rebecca Berna, a 15-year resident. “You can hang out at night. You don’t need to leave Massapequa if you don’t want to.”

Around the corner on Front Street, near the train station, Massapequa Perk is a popular coffee spot. Come warmer weather, the line for Ralph’s Italian Ices stretches out the door, with children perched on benches or their bikes.

About 7,400 students are enrolled in the Massapequa Union Free School District. Six elementary schools — Unqua, McKenna, Lockhart, Fairfield, East Lake and Birch Lane — serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade. McKenna serves students in sixth grade as well.

Berner Middle School covers sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Massapequa High School’s main campus has about 1,700 students in grades 10 through 12. About 575 ninth graders study at Massapequa High School’s Ames campus.


Park Boulevard looking toward the Long Island Rail Road trestle.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Mean SAT scores for the class of 2018 were 567 in reading and writing and 571 in math; statewide equivalents were 534 and 534.

Some students who live in the northern part of Massapequa Park attend schools in the neighboring Farmingdale district.

Rush-hour trains from the Massapequa Park station on the Babylon Branch of the Long Island Rail Road take 54 to 59 minutes, some requiring a transfer at Jamaica. A monthly pass is $297.

The drive along the Southern State Parkway and the Long Island Expressway to Midtown Manhattan takes about an hour and 10 minutes, depending on traffic.


Colleran Park, at the southern tip of Bar Harbour, has sweeping views of Great South Bay.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

In the 1920s, real estate developers Michael J. Brady, Peter F. Colleran and Frank Cryan bought land in Massapequa, expecting Robert Moses to build a road to a beach on a barrier island off Long Island. When the stock-market crash nixed those plans, they began to build, using Sears kit houses, said William Colfer, first vice president of the Historical Society of the Massapequas. “For the most part, they advertised English Tudor homes,” he said, but they also built colonials, Capes and ranches.

In 1931, to keep local control of building lots and zoning laws, the village of Massapequa Park was incorporated. Mr. Colleran became the first mayor; Mr. Cryan and Mr. Brady were the first two judges.

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Published at Wed, 30 Jan 2019 10:01:23 +0000