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Election Issues

With Election Day around the corner, voters going to the polls are looking for candidates that will follow through on campaign pledges to fix problems and admit accountability when situations go south. Among the myriad taxpayer problems are the continuing soap opera that developing the Nassau Coliseum has become, the lack of governmental transparency that became evident in recent events including a lawsuit filed by banned workers at the animal shelter and ongoing aircraft noise that has been severely affecting quality of life.

Now that Forest City Ratner Cos., (the organization that wound up moving the Islanders to the Barclays Center), has won the redevelopment sweepstakes, one of the questions being asked is where all these people are going to park once construction is done on whatever destinations wind up being constructed be it a technology park or entertainment venue. The Town of Hempstead got the process started by issuing a 2011 town zoning change that would allow the constructing of multi-tiered parking facilities that would hold more than 6,000 vehicles. Subsequently, the county is requesting $10 million from Albany to steer towards the overall $150 million cost of these garages estimated by Renaissance Downtowns of Plainview, the master developer for the site picked by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. At the August press conference where the announcement was made that Forest City Ratner had been picked to oversee all of the Hub’s redevelopmnet, Mangano said, “Today marks a historic public-private partnership in Nassau County history as I announce the construction of a 100% privately financed Coliseum that will share revenue with the County at zero expense to the taxpayer.” Further more, this shared revenue would run for the duration of the 34-year lease. And while town residents can look forward to no new taxes and future profits for Nassau County, there is a distinct possibility that once the Islanders leave in 2015, this sprawling site will lay fallow for an undetermined amount of time given how slowly the wheels of government turn on projects of this magnitude.

A 2010 suit filed by three volunteer animal shelter workers who claimed they were banned by the Town of Hempstead was settled for $150,000 earlier this year. During village board meetings held during this time, Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Town Attorney Joseph Ra refused to answer questions about the animal shelter citing the pending lawsuit. And according to Felix Procacci, who is running for Murray’s seat this fall, an audit conducted by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found roughly 40 percent of the shelter’s budget unaccounted for.

The Town-Village Safety & Noise Abatement Committee (TVASNAC) is a coalition of 13 communities that has been fighting the problem of low-flying planes, a problem that has plagued the town for decades. With Kendall Lampkin, executive assistant to the town supervisor, chairing the committee, the Town of Hempstead is and continues to be fully committed to dealing with these noise issues. Unfortunately, forward progress continues to be elusive, especially given the sporadic attendance at meetings of FAA and various federal officials promising to answer questions posed by constituents and their representatives. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.