New York state legislation to transfer ownership of the Freeport Armory to the non-profit Cedarmore Corporation to be used as a center for at-risk youth passed the Assembly and Senate last week. The bill now sits on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk and is awaiting his signature.
The bill, sponsored by Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Earlene Hooper, has a controversial history and has pitted Hooper and supporters of the Cedarmore programs against the Village of Freeport, other Freeport residents and as well as neighbors in Merrick.
The Village of Freeport would like to use the Armory property to move its Department of Public Works, now in the Industrial Park to the site because it is in a flood zone.
The original bill died on the Governor’s desk last year but was resurrected by Hooper and in a surprise move garnered support from County Executive Edward Mangano who wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo. “I support Earlene Hooper’s vision to utilize the facility for civic, social, economic, environmental and community sue of the facility.” He also said that his staff has been in “contact with the Village and has offered to assist the Village ... in repairing their existing DPW facility.”
Newsday reported that Hooper got Mangano’s support in return for state approval for the county executive’s plan to overhaul Nassau’s commercial property tax reimbursement program.
“That is absolute nonsense,” said county spokesperson Katie Grille-Robles.
But Mayor Kennedy had a different take on the matter. “Mangano's support for the Freeport Armory is absolutely a quid pro quo with Deputy Speaker Hooper. The failure of the County Executive to even discuss the needs of the municipality with the Board of Trustees and or Mayor is outrageous,” he said.
“Nassau County Village Officials, consisting of 64 local Mayors, Assemblyman Brian Curran, George Coleman ( owner of Colemen Camp), Legislator Dave Denenberg, Freeport-Roosevelt NAACP President Douglas Mayers, Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Freeport School District, Village of Freeport Board of Trustees, Mayor, and thousands of local residents are all in opposition to bill A-8821-A,” said Mayor Kennedy.