Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If The Town Can Raise A Wall In Elmont. . .

Why Can't They Raze A Blighted Movie Theater Or A Hotsheet Hotel?

Kudos to the Town of Hempstead for lending a hand to Habitat of Humanity here in Nassau County, raising a wall on a new home being built in Elmont.

The more affordable housing starts, the better, for Hempstead Town, Nassau County, and Long Island.

We applaud Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Town Councilmen Ed Ambrosino and Jim Darcy, and Nassau County Legislator John Ciotti, for rolling up their sleeves on this important initiative.

When the reporters and the photographers (hope Kate wore her hardhat) have cleared, however, and the sheetrock has covered the 2x4s, the question remains, "Why can't the Town of Hempstead move with at least as much determination as it does to raise a wall, in razing the blighted brownfields that dot and detract from the landscape (not to mention property values and our communities quality of life) here in western Nassau?"

What of Elmont's Argo, or West Hempstead's Courtesy? Monuments to blight, decay, and neglect that stand in contravention to everything we cherish in suburbia.

What of Baldwin's Grand Avenue?

What of the promises made, but not kept, to revitalize Main Street, to improve the business districts of the town's unincorporated areas, to give residents that entire "package" which Supervisor Murray, upon her victory at the polls on November 3rd, called her "mandate?"

It is not only the property tax that is doing us in here on Long Island. No, we must add to our burden the neglect -- benign and otherwise -- of Town Hall in reviving our downtowns, in embracing smart growth, and in reinventing the suburban dream in ways that are so much more than brick pavers and Victorian-style street lamps.

Not only has the Town of Hempstead lost sight of the big picture -- ala figuring out how to move forward with mega-projects such as the Lighthouse. It's the little things along Main Street that the Town seems incapable of accomplishing as well, like tearing down what once was a movie theater for a much-needed supermarket; applying the principles of smart growth anywhere along the 20 miles of ugly that is Hempstead Turnpike; or razing a no-tell hotel in favor of a beneficial mix of housing units, retail stores, and recreational space.

As per the Town's press release, West Hempstead, Franklin Square, and Elmont are "among the communities where revitalization activities are taking place."

Are they? Really? Is there a cloak of invisibility hiding these activities? Can redevelopment and revitalization be had in absentia?

We will believe it when we see it!

Know when to raise 'em, Madam Supervisor, and know when to raze 'em!
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From The Town of Hempstead:

Supervisor Murray And Habitat For Humanity Raise Wall For New Elmont Home

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilmen Ed Ambrosino and James Darcy joined Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County, Inc., President Lee Hymowitz and a host of volunteers to celebrate the wall raising of a new affordable home that is now under construction at 25 Louis Avenue in Elmont. Also present at the ceremony were local community leaders and Nassau County Legislator John Ciotti.

The wall raising event celebrates a significant step in the construction of the single-family home and marks the beginning of construction. The project is the result of close cooperation between the Town of Hempstead and Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County, Inc. The home is being built by volunteer construction workers on a parcel of property that the town conveyed to Habitat for Humanity for $1.

"It is gratifying to see so many volunteers working to transform this property into a wonderful new home. Working with Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County has assisted us to meet our goal of providing more affordable housing for local residents. Now that this project is under way, it won't be long before one family's dream of owning a home will come true," said Supervisor Murray.

"Our mission at Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County is to provide affordable homes for families in need. We had the support of Supervisor Murray necessary to acquire the property for this home last June. It has been important for Habitat for the Humanity to work with town government and volunteers to make this project possible," said Lee Hymowitz, President of Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County, Inc.

"I am pleased that Hempstead Town has been able to play an important role in building this affordable home by contributing the property that is being built upon for only $1," said Ambrosino.

"This project will complement the affordable senior homes that the town has just completed in Elmont along with the downtown beautification work we have performed," added Darcy."

Working together, various levels of government, Habitat for Humanity and local neighbors are undertaking meaningful community enhancement projects, and Elmont residents can be proud of the improvements that are taking place," observed Ciotti.

In an agreement between Hempstead Town and Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County, Inc., the home must be built using sustainable building practices and materials as well as the installation of energy-saving appliances. When completed, the home will be United States Green Building Counsel LEED-certified.

This commitment to the environment only enhances the priority of affordability shared by the town and Habitat for Humanity. Low cost home ownership will be provided to the new homeowner as a result of a unique collaboration between several parties. The town's provided the property for the project at a $1 fee while a no-interest thirty-year mortgage will be held by Habitat for Humanity. Volunteer labor and donated materials will also help to facilitate a home purchase price that is projected to be less than half of the market value of $300,000. In fact, the property alone has an appraised value of approximately $75,000.

Town officials also recognized the assistance and participation of National Grid, LIPA and the United States Green Building Council in making the construction of this affordable and green home possible.

Federal and New York State funds secured by the Town of Hempstead Department of Planning and Economic Development are utilized to develop plans for projects that will positively impact residential and commercial environments. The goal is to generate economic vitality and improve the quality of life of those who live, work or play in communities within the town. Roosevelt, Inwood, Oceanside, West Hempstead, Franklin Square, Levittown and Elmont are among the communities where revitalization activities are taking place.

The Town of Hempstead offers a variety of economic development opportunities for businesses and residents that include affordable housing, loan and grants for senior citizens and physically challenged individuals, streetscapes and facade improvements and more. For information about these programs, visit the Town of Hempstead's website at www.toh.li or call (516) 538-7100.

About Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County: Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County, established in 1990, is a local nonprofit 501(c)3 affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County is an ecumenical organization that seeks to address affordable housing needs by providing homes for deserving families in Nassau County. Persons of all beliefs are encouraged to join its efforts. The organization is committed to the development of local communities and the empowerment of families through its housing ministry. The organization relies on individuals, corporations and foundations for financial support and accepts government assistance. For more information, visit www.hfhnc.org.

1 comment:

  1. While a Habitat house is a good project, what about the other lots the Town took by eminent domain within a stone's throw of this project?

    Those properties along Hempstead Turnpike were taken 15 years ago under the assumption that affordable housing would be built there. So far the lots remain empty with no plan in sight.

    After reading the number of people on the Town's payroll in a prior post on this blog, I can't believe there's no one working for the Town capable of coming up with a plan for those lots. 15 years is enough time!