Thursday, January 14, 2010

Elmont to TOH: The Ire Of Community Is Upon You!

Does Boisterous Civic Meeting Pose Threat To Town Politics As Unusual?

Oh, they get it in Elmont, all right. The blight. The neglect. The Empty promises. The endless array of artists' renderings signifying absolutely nothing.

One question, though. At the recent meeting of the Elmont East Civic Association, where was kate? You remember. Kate Murray, Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead. Surely you've seen her name on those signs posted along the roadways -- and at your local sanitary district.

Oh, we forgot. The election is over. Kate Murray wins yet again, and now retreats into the rabbit hole (gee, how does she fit down there, anyway?), not to be seen again for another two years, and leaving Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino (one of the few in Hempstead Town who actually give a damn about our communities) to take the heat in Elmont.

Ed, let Kate know (not that she really cares) that the rumbling in Elmont is but the undercurrent of unrest flowing east throughout the unincorporated hamlets of America's most blighted township.

No, it's not only the property taxes, the special district fiefdoms, the crumbling infrastructure of Main Street, the moon-like roadscape of local streets, and on and on ad nauseum. It's the devil may care attitude of those who talk a great game of magnificent gain for community, then snub their noses at us all.

Indeed, you can fool some of the people all of the time. Just not in Elmont!
- - -
From the Elmont Herald:

Hostility Toward ToH Evinced at East End Civic Meeting

Guest speaker Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino, always a welcome friendly face at the Elmont East End Civic Club, felt the heat Tuesday evening at its January 5th general meeting. Residents attending the meeting pelted him with complaints about the Town’s lack of response, lack of code enforcement, poor road conditions, lack of snow removal in this last snow storm, general deterioration, and proliferation of store-front churches along Hempstead Turnpike that take properties off the tax roles and therefore negatively impact the economy.

There were some new faces among the almost 50 attending the meeting held at the Elmont Public Library. “We have a new County Executive, Ed Mangano, who wants to re-energize the County,” began Ambrosino. He shared that a new zoning resolution specifically targeting Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont from the Cross Island Parkway to Lucille Avenue has been shared with The Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Growth for its input and that it will be available to the public prior to a Town Board vote. The proposed zoning resolution process will take 4-6 months, and it includes commercial and recreation areas, and is designed to create a uniform esthetics in the commercial property along the Turnpike. If passed, the zoning would affect renovations, remodels and new construction.

When he opened up discussion to the audience, residents were quick to lodge their complaints and dismay. One after another hands went up to complain about illegal apartments, residences being used as commercial auto repair shops, parking in no parking zones, double parking, lack of code enforcement, political signs from the November election still lingering on telephone polls, vacant gas stations, and the very poor snow removal effort during the most recent snow storm. “Three days later they’re coming down our block with the plows,” said one resident.

The discontent was palpable and seemed to grow as the meeting proceeded.

“I put in a complaint to the Town about an illegal basement apartment,” said one resident attending the civic meeting for the first time, “and I got a very nice letter from Kate Murray [Town Supervisor] saying thank you for taking the time to complain, but nothing was done about the illegal apartment.”

“If I call the Building Department,” said another concerned resident, “I get directed to Code Enforcement, or Sanitation or somewhere else.”

“Doesn’t anyone in the Town notice sidewalks that need to be repaired?” demanded another resident. “Why aren’t business owners cleaning up in front of their businesses?” asked another.

“Code Enforcement was unable to gain access to a property I complained about,” said Attorney and Developer Muzzio Tallini. “I was advised that we could file an affidavit with the Town Attorney regarding that property, but the Town Attorney hasn’t called back.”

“How long can a gas station be left vacant?” inquired another visibly annoyed resident who resides near one.

“Don’t call the Hot Line or the Building Department to report illegal housing or illegal rentals, etc.” suggested Ambrosino. “Call my office directly 812-3179 and we’ll try to get it resolved for you.”

The complaints were like complaints of civic meetings past. “Listening to the concerns expressed tonight is like being at a meeting from 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and yes, 20 years ago,” said Elmont Herald Editor Cathy Ferrigno. “Doing the same thing over and over again, (like complaining to the Town) and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity,” she said. “And, there’s something systemically wrong with Town Government when we have to call you, the Councilman whose job it is to write legislation, to get Town departments to do their job.”

“I can’t change the system alone,” Ambrosino said, “but I want to be able to help solve and address residents’ individual problems.”

Ambrosino mentioned that he introduced legislation that would prohibit a gas station from being left vacant for more than 90 days.

Frustration and discontent mounted as one after another residents registered complaints that have negatively impacted their quality of life in Elmont that should have been addressed by the powers that be and the departments within the Town of Hempstead.

1 comment:

  1. The attitude is indeed what gets to me. The unwillingness to acknowledge the real problems that are spreading throughout the Town; the failure to accept responsibility; the sense you get that these guys live in some kind of state of denial - as if somehow you're the one who is wrong for pointing out that Hempstead is far from the kind of suburban Garden of Eden they want you to believe it is. And then to top it off she's too chicken to show up and be the leader she's supposed to be.

    Kate, clearly you don't want to do the right thing by attending meetings such as this and being held accountable, so let me make another suggestion that might help you understand what's going on. Take a walk one day. You don't have to go far. Easily less than two hundred yards from Town Hall are neighborhoods with boarded up houses, crumbling roads, vacant business districts, and plenty of illegal dwellings. Been this way for years, and it's not getting any better.

    I know because this is where I grew up, during a time when the kind of rosy, idyllic suburban life you like to describe was actually an accurate depiction of reality. This was when the village of Hempstead was known as "the hub of Nassau County." Those who would be inclined to extend that metaphor might be tempted to now describe this area as having been relegated to some kind of economic junkyard.

    How Hempstead got to its current state is a story of neglect, bad policy and a horrifying lack of leadership. How it gets out of this mess is less certain.

    I want to believe places like Elmont, and the village of Hempstead, Roosevelt and downtown Baldwin, and all the other blighted communities in this town, can all rise again and be the the kind of thriving prosperous communities I can remember from my boyhood. But it won't happen without leadership and a willingness to accept responsibility - particularly from the Town of Hempstead. Clearly, people are looking for signs that somebody in Hempstead's town government "gets it." Unfortunately, episodes such as what happened at this most recent meeting do little to satisfy that desire.