GLEN COVE, N.Y. -- A nearly 2-year-old U.S.-Soviet dispute has been settled by a City Council vote to allow members of the Soviets' U.N. mission to again use the city's beaches, golf courses and tennis courts.
Following two hours of public debate Tuesday night, the City Council lifted the May 1982 ban on a 5-2 vote. Two Republicans joined the council's three Democrats in voting to rescind the ban.
The two Republicans who voted to keep the ban, Tip Henderson and Ann Gold, argued that the Soviets should have to pay taxes like private residents to use the city's recreational facilities.
The ban sparked an international confrontation when it was imposed in May 1982 by Mayor Alan Parente, and the Soviet Union responded by refusing to allow personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to use a beach outside that city.
A federal court suit filed by the State Department to force Glen Cove to lift the ban and a countersuit by the city were later withdrawn under a court agreement, but the mini-cold war continued.
Mayor Vicent Suozzi, Parente's successor, said Tuesday the agreement means the city's recreational facilities can be used by the seven or eight full-time residents of the Glen Cove mansion -- but not by Soviet guests nor Soviet delegates living in Manhattan or Riverdale.
Last week, Suozzi cited 'friendly and rational' talks between city and Soviet officials as a reason to lift the ban.
Suozzi and Councilman Vincent Taranto said the Soviets 'acted in good faith, have shown a constructive interest in our city, and have indicated by word and deed that they want to be good neighbors.'
They pointed to participation in a city 'cleanup and beautification' program as evidence of the Soviets' good will.
Parente told about 150 people at the meeting Tuesday he imposed the ban in reaction to reports that Killenworth, the Soviets' 37-acre estate in Glen Cove, was being used to spy on Long Island's defense industry.
The former mayor also complained the Russians were not required to pay taxes on the 49-room mansion and the city was not reimbursed for police protection it provides Killenworth, which has been the stage for numerous demonstrations.
Opponents of the ban argued it had overshadowed more important issues such as city finances and drug abuse. Some said it was illegal from the start and rescinding it would be a better good-neighbor policy.
Parente, however, said such arguments had 'lost sight of the basic issue, which was spying.'
'This estate is a listening post for the Soviet Union but our government is aware of that fact and chooses to ignore it,' he said. 'If it is used for spying, this residence is not entitled to tax exemption.'