Written by Katherine M. Trager Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
The ongoing New Cassel revitalization effort celebrated a triumph on Oct. 27. As part of an economic redevelopment plan for the area, two new projects consisting of rental apartments and a retail division have just been completed on Prospect Avenue.
The soaring structures on New Cassel’s main street will contain 50 affordable units in total with about 16,000 square feet of retail space, which will be occupied through a lottery that gives preference to New Cassel residents.
Political representatives joined with members of the media and an enthusiastic group of community members in an outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony for the event. The section of Prospect Avenue bordering the buildings had been temporarily closed for the occasion, with tents set up to shelter the crowd from rain.
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman explained how the project was made possible, at the same time introducing governmental guest speakers.
“This is about a community coming together, this is about a government finding the partners,” he began.
“This is about leadership at the federal level with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, at the county level with Legislator Robert Troiano, with Town Councilwoman Viviana Russell, with our banking and construction industries and our community leaders,” continued Kaiman.
Kaiman especially thanked Congresswoman McCarthy for bringing in the necessary funding and support needed for the project, before introducing her to the audience.
“Is everybody happy?” McCarthy asked the crowd, which responded with applause and a resounding “Yes!”
“If the community hadn’t worked together, this would have never happened, because it’s the community that has to make sure that all levels of government work together,” stated McCarthy.
McCarthy was also animated about the quality of the new apartment units. “They’re gorgeous, with the newest technology. I’m ready to move in,” she told a smiling audience.
McCarthy continued, “Many years ago, I remember saying, ‘I want this place to look like Franklin Avenue in Garden City,’ and you know what? That’s the way it’s going to look. And you should all be proud of the work that you have done, because this is a dream that’s come true. It doesn’t matter that it’s raining, the sun is shining in here.”
Councilwoman Russell and Legislator Troiano, who are local residents in the area as well as elected officials, also shared their thoughts on the project.
Stated Russell said, “It’s very emotional for me, being a resident of this community for the past 11 years. When I first moved here, Prospect Avenue was a place that had abandoned buildings, crumbling shops … but thanks to the work of our community and our government coming together, we now have an investment of over $80 million along Prospect Avenue.”
Troiano also reiterated the importance of community involvement.
“I have a New Cassel newsletter from back in 1985 that heralds the coming of the Prospect Avenue revitalization,” said Troiano.
“Decades went by, and now we’re seeing it actually happen. But this didn’t happen solely because of the work of elected officials. This could not have happened without New Cassel saying, ‘Let’s hold the town accountable for its promise in 1985 to revitalize Prospect Avenue and the New Cassel community,’” Troiano said.
Adding spiritual and musical elements to the event were Bishop Lionel Harvey of First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury and the Westbury High School Select Choir. Bishop Harvey, who is also the president of the local organization U.N.C.C.R.C. (Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corp.), gave his benedictions to the project as well as to the people involved. The Select Choir gave a joyous rendition of the National Anthem and entertained the audience with gospel selections.
Apartment lottery winners Mitch and Sherri-Ann Innis, who were very excited to move into their new apartment with their young daughter Melanie, were also invited to the event and participated in the ribbon-cutting.
Upcoming developments in the New Cassel revitalization effort will include a bank, a pharmacy and a supermarket. Prospect Avenue will also be repaved and is currently undergoing reconstruction “to make it more pedestrian-friendly and less congested. A community center in New Cassel with multiple levels and functions is also expected to open within the next few years.