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2012: Year In Review

Sandy, Nor’easter Sweep Through Westbury, CP

As the sun faded in the late afternoon sky on Monday, Oct. 29, local residents braced themselves for a storm unlike any other in recent memory.

When the howling wind gusts and steady rainfall subsided the next day, community members took to the streets to survey the damage of Superstorm Sandy, which upended hundreds of trees and numerous power lines in the area and left nearly all of the homes and businesses within the Village of Westbury and Town of North Hempstead without electricity.

“Prior to the nor’easter, we had approximately 700 houses in the village still without power. Unfortunately, as a result of the storm, many houses, including mine, lost power again, and we are now at about 2,300 homes with no power,” said Mayor Peter Cavallaro.

Precinct Shrink

Supervisor Jon Kaiman invited Nassau County officials to North Hempstead Town Hall in February to present the county plan to close four police precincts.

The plan called for the following four precincts to remain: the Seventh in Massapequa/Massapequa Park, the Second in Woodbury, the Third in Williston Park and the Fourth in Hewlett.  The remaining four locations, the Fourth in Baldwin, the Fifth in Elmont, the Eighth in North Massapequa, and the Sixth Precinct in Great Neck/Manhasset, would operate as community policing centers.

“It’s not about closing precincts,” said Commissioner Krumpter. “We have 177 cars on the street today and we will have 177 cars on the street tomorrow.”

Isn’t She Lovely  

The third time wasn’t the charm for W.T. Clarke grad Jessica Ricco, but four recently proved to be her lucky number. On Sunday, Aug. 12, Ricco was named Miss Long Island 2013 at the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts.

The community activist, who has been participating in pageants since she was 16, has taught in the Westbury School District and made advocacy for the prevention of child abuse one of her main focal points during her time on the pageant scene.

In With The New

Westbury Superintendent Dr. Constance Clark-Snead announced her retirement, at a Jan. 19 board of education meeting.

Dr. Clark-Snead, who wanted to “take charge of her well-being” after serving as superintendent since September 1999, said she faced some hostility from residents during her 13 years as superintendent but noted hoped to remain in the community. Assistant Superintendent Mary Lagnado was named interim superintendent several months later.

Carle Place High School Principal Neil Connolly retired after having worked at CPHS for 37 years in a variety of positions including math teacher, coach, supervisor of the math department, assistant principal and principal. Thomas DePaola, former vice principal at Long Beach High, replaced Connolly this past September.

 The Show Must Go On

Originally built in the 1920s, the Post Avenue movie house was a main attraction in the village for several decades until its closure in July 2001.

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro previously called the theater renovation project the “final piece to the puzzle” in the village’s downtown revitalization effort.

Through the construction and renovation process, Hakakian said that the creation of jobs yielded nearly $3 million toward the village’s economy. An estimated 28 full-time equivalent jobs will be created at the theater and Hakakian believes that the nearly 500,000 expected visitors would generate an additional $4.8 million in revenue for village restaurants and merchants.

The theater is slated to open in early 2013.

Athletes In Action

Many local athletes shined through sports this past year, including two world-class Olympians.  

Holy Trinity High School alum and Westbury resident Shana Cox competed for Great Britain, the birthplace of her parents, in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in London. The sprinter helped her team finish fifth in the 4 x 400-meter relay.

Carle Place graduate (class of 2005) and Westbury resident Steve Serio was a member of the United States men’s wheelchair basketball team, which earned a bronze medal at the Paralympic Games. Most recently, Serio was playing wheelchair basketball professionally in Germany.

“Representing the U.S. has been my single greatest accomplishment in my career. Nothing compares to wearing the ‘USA’ letters across your chest, knowing that your friends, family and other players across the country have your back,” Serio explained.

Ellison Avenue Bridge Project

An ongoing issue for residents and village officials for many years, the Ellison Avenue Bridge in Westbury will be demolished and rebuilt as part of the MTA’s Capital Plan. The bridge, built in 1941, will be environmentally reviewed this year with contracts tentatively to be awarded in 2013 and completion set for the end 2014.

“The Village of Westbury deserves to have this bridge rebuilt and we will hold the railroad to its commitment,” NYS Senator Jack Martins said.

Yes We Can

The grand opening on Sept. 8 of the 60,000-square-foot Yes We Can Community Center – perhaps the most environmentally advanced community center in the region – capped New Cassel’s model ongoing revitalization effort.

The center features a massive gymnasium with two NBA-sized courts, a dance studio, TV/recording studios, a fitness center, an Internet café, a computer center, teen and senior lounges and multipurpose rental space.

 “This story is about the triumph of a community,” said Troiano, a longtime local resident and former North Hempstead town councilman. “As a son of this community, I truly understand how people in this community are feeling today after waiting so long to have a place where we can come together. We kept our eyes on the prize and now we have this magnificent, multipurpose, multigenerational building.”

Islanders Shoot To Brooklyn

On Monday, Oct. 22, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano tweeted that he would hold a press conference in the coming days to announce his “plans to generate jobs at the Hub and keep the Islanders.”  

A press conference was held two days later, except Mangano wasn’t there; the New York Islanders organized a press conference at 620 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, the franchise’s new rink as of 2015.

“We have come up with a solution that really benefits the Islander fans and what we are trying to do. We are staying in New York and are very happy with the decision we made,” Wang said.

Over the past several years, elected officials in Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead, the Islanders ownership and local residents failed to reach a compromise on possible renovations to the Nassau Coliseum or methods to fund a new complex.  

“This is a sad day for Nassau County and unfortunately another crippling hit to our local economy. We must immediately start working on new ideas for the Hub so that the Coliseum does not sit as a crumbling eyesore for generations,” said Nassau County Democratic Leader Kevan Abrahams, who called the 2015 relocation “an epic failure of leadership at all levels.”

PILOT Grounded

Numerous local elected and appointed officials flanked Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro on Wednesday, Nov. 14 as he asked residents to express disapproval for The Bristal Assisted Living facility’s tax abatement application, which Cavallaro said could cost Westbury, Old Westbury and New Cassel taxpayers and municipalities an estimated $7 million over the next 10 years if approved.

“This is why we have a unanimous group of all of your elected officials and all of your appointed officials who are saying that this is not right, it’s really abusive and it’s really not the intent of what an IDA program was really meant to do,” Cavallaro added.

On Dec. 13, the IDA was no longer considering The Bristal’s PILOT application – and the mayor cited resident’s “strength in numbers” as the main factor in the decision.