Friday, March 28, 2008

Community On A Continuous Loop

Or, If It Seems Like You've Heard This All Before, YOU HAVE!

Last night this blogger attended a civic meeting. It was in West Hempstead, if that matters. May as well have been in Bosnia, for all the sniper fire over head (as in, "Will we be inconvenienced if Hempstead Avenue is reconstructed?" DUH! As if constant flooding and crevices the size of Moon craters haven't been inconveniences lo these many years. Maybe we just ought to scrap the whole project, it being so inconvenient and all).

And if bickering from the peanut gallery wasn't enough, those in attendance had to duck and run for cover lest we be hit by the barrage of rhetorical bullets that flew out of the mouths of elected officials.

What galls me most -- though few others seem to really take notice -- is that we can be told the same thing, year after year, decade after decade, be made the same promises and shown the same drawings, mostly by the same people, and not even bat an eyelash although absolutely nothing -- other than that constant background noise and the always-reinventing of the wheel -- ever happens.

"The Hempstead Avenue Project is in the budget and out for bids."

Hmmm. I recall, sometime in the early 90s, attending a Nassau County scoping session on this project, and then being told, and told again and again, as if an annual rite, "the reconstruction will soon be underway." [Yes, and the Messiah is coming. The only questions being, will He/She be able to make it down Hempstead Avenue? And why the heck would the Messiah want to come to West Hempstead in the first place? Personally, my pick would be West Palm Beach, but that's me. LOL]

But I -- much like the politicos -- digress.

If the Avenue was the only cause for concern; the sole obsession of our dismay.

Consider that pesky Hall's Pond Park restoration. You remember, the repairs and upgrades that were to come -- having long ago been approved -- out of the 2004 Environmental Bond Act.

Oh yeah. That, too, has been sent out to bid (obviously, the County's own Parks Department is incapable of restoring a gazebo to specs, fixing broken railings, and upgrading a million dollar boondoggle of a filtration system that, literally, hasn't worked since the Gulotta administration).

And this bid isn't for actual work, mind you. Its for DESIGN.

Sure, more artists renderings for us to ponder, comment upon, and hold up to the light, as Hall's Pond Park falls further into disrepair.

But look, they're working on it.

From County Execs on magical, mystery economic development bus tours (only the fares have changed), to Town Supervisors' photo-laden mailings attesting to the benefits of sunscreen, the talk, if not cheap (we have the tax bills to prove it), is, at least plentiful.

As for the substantive stuff -- the nuts and bolts of what it takes to actually take a project from drawing board to the street -- well, what can we say? They're working on it!

Never seems to bother us -- or enough of us -- that they've been "working on it" (whatever that "it" may be -- in West Hempstead, its reconstructing the Avenue; restoring Hall's Pond Park; closing the infamous Courtesy) since time immemorial (or since Magellan first set out to circumvent the globe. You choose). Good government takes time. [So what's these guys' excuse?]

Sure, they have to study it, think about it, prepare an RFP, convert it to a PDF, obtain the opinion of counsel, create a special taxing district, and then add a pinch of community dissent to give these seemingly simple projects an air of "local control." And then, well, "We had no money, have no money, don't plan on seeing any money. Now, about those raises..."

Build roads and bridges in Baghdad? Sure, no problem. Nary a brownfield left for Al-Sadr's army to destroy.

Fix those roads and bridges in Nassau? "Ah, we're working on it." Shades of Coxey's Army when it comes to getting things done in these parts.

My God. if Thomas Edison's inventions had to pass muster of any legislative body -- whether County Legislature or Town Board -- we'd all still be sitting in the dark.

I did like the comments of County Legislator Dave Denenberg, who was gracious enough to speak at the West Hempstead gathering as Chair of this legislative committee or that, to the effect that Code enforcement is everything.

From illegal accessory apartments to filthy sidewalks, oversized signs to entire buildings that stand in defiance of code, how difficult is it to actually enforce the law, rather than to turn the other cheek?

Dave, you could have been shouting from the rooftops of Basra rather than speaking to the converted at West Hempstead Middle School. You're one hunderd percent correct. Its Code enforcement, stupid. They hear you. We hear you. Trouble is, no one -- either the elected or the electorate -- is listening.

But hey, give 'em credit. They're working on it.

After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. And word on the street has it that our local elected officials will be rolling out the artist's renderings of the Coliseum (Rome's, not Nassau's) any day now.

Cue the balloons, and alert the Zoning Board.
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So, what are they "working on" in your community? Write us at We'd all like to know.

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