Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Road To Redemption. . .

. . .Begins In West Hempstead

Photo courtesy of Ed Schnapp, Newsday
Perhaps not since God handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai has there been such a gathering of the powerful, the faithful and the huddled masses now, at long last, free.

Okay. The demolition of West Hempstead's notorious Courtesy Hotel might not have been the momentous occasion witnessed back in Biblical days -- when the community's efforts to shutter and raze the infamous no-tell hotel first began -- but don't tell that to the nearly 300 West Hempstead residents who showed up this day to see their hamlet bask in the warm, cleansing sunlight, finally out of the shadow of the discourteous Courtesy. Why, even Newsday was all a Twitter!

Dignitaries on hand included Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Council Members Ed Ambrosino, Jim Darcy and Dorothy Goosby, Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin (who was lovingly booed by the adoring taxpayers in attendance ;-), State Assemblyman Ed Ra and County Legislator and West Hempstead resident Vin Muscarella.

Also present were civic and community leaders, clergy, firefighters, and auxiliary Police officers who stood shoulder to shoulder with the masses to usher in a new day for West Hempstead.

Yes, there were speeches and pats-on-the-back amidst the cheers from the crowd. All well-deserved considering the long, hard battle, fought, over nearly 15 years, to close the Courtesy.

Truth be told, this coming together of the community, and those who so doggedly and fiercely represent it, would not have happened today had it not been for the joinder of hearts and minds, from the man on the street along Hempstead Avenue to (you heard it here first) Supervisor Kate Murray at Town Hall.

The atmosphere was festive. There were speeches. There were photo ops. There was Kate Murray and Rosalie Norton, President of the West Hempstead Community Support and Civic Associations, donning hard hats, climbing aboard heavy construction equipment, and taking their respective whacks at the backside of the Courtesy, the crowd cheering them on as if gladiators in the arena. [No, not the Coliseum. Another story for a different blogpost...]

Good for them. Kudos. [Yes, we said kudos!] to Kate Murray, Rosalie Norton, Ed Ambrosino and the legion of elected officials and community stalwarts who worked tirelessly to see this new day dawn upon West Hempstead.

All right. So we threw everything we had at Kate Murray over the years, on this and other issues -- even as late as this morning. And who knows, we may do so again tomorrow. But, for the moment, the Supervisor of America's largest (and soon to be not as blighted) township deserves much credit for closing the book on what was a sordid and all too lengthy chapter in this hamlet's history. The closure and demolition of the Courtesy Hotel would not have taken place today without Kate Murray. Period!

On this, the 12th day of May, 2011, if but for a few glorious hours, we were all West Hempsteaders, and each of us, from those on the front lines since time immemorial, to the onlookers who just came by to see what was happening along this heretofore forgotten milepost on the Avenue, could stand tall.

Yes, Kate Murray was all smiles as the wrecking ball (actually, to our disappointment, there was no wrecking ball, just a huge dozer leaking hydraulic fluid) chewed into the Courtesy's facade. And so were we all!

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