After years of planning and construction, Village of Valley Stream officials celebrated the grand opening of the new courthouse on May 16. Elected leaders from Valley Stream, Nassau County and neighboring communities attended, as well as Valley Stream community members who piled through the door to see the art deco interior.
“Today is a day of community,” Mayor Ed Fare said in his speech. “We have many friends from around the block and around the state who have taken the time to be with us, and we thank you all. Today I consider you all proud honorary Valley Streamers.”
The celebration began with the Valley Stream Fire Department’s Color Guard entering the building and playing taps, while Valley Stream village officials, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and village guests followed. After the Pledge of Allegiance and Heather Barbera’s rendition of the national anthem, Fare spoke about the importance of the new building, and Geoffrey O’Connell talked about former Village Justice Robert Bogle, in whose honor the courtroom was named.
“Judge Bogle has been a worker and a leader in our community,” O’Connell, a retired New York State Supreme Court judge, said.
Bogle is a lifelong Valley Stream resident, who went to elementary school at Shaw Avenue School. He studied law at Hofstra University before serving as acting Long Beach City Court judge, president of the New York State Magistrates Association and president of the Nassau County Magistrates Association. He now is a Nassau County Court judge and an acting New York State Supreme Court justice. Bogle also serves as the supervising judge for the Nassau County Village Courts and is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University.
Bogle was appointed Valley Stream village justice in 1986, when he was 28. During his tenure as the longest-serving village justice, he established a driver-education class and community-service program for repeat offenders. He also invited Boy and Girl Scout troops to assist on court nights.
“This village has always been good to me over the years,” Bogle said, adding that although his father died 50 years ago, his family’s involvement in village activities kept them in the area. “This is a great honor that will always be a part of my life.”
Transforming 195 Rockaway Avenue
The structure on 195 Rockaway Ave. was originally built as a bank in 1925 and has been a village hall, synagogue and advertising agency. By 2011, according to Fare, the building had foreclosure
notices taped to the door. His friend, former Valley Stream Trustee John Mastromarino, suggested that the village
buy back the building it had owned in the 1940s.
“His idea fit perfectly with our vision of breathing life into the heart of our business district, having employees
and court operations functioning here
on a day-to-day basis,” Fare said at the ceremony.
After he was elected mayor in 2011, the village bought the building for $880,000 through eminent domain. The village immediately moved Code Enforcement, Public Safety and the Auxiliary Police into the second-floor. The first floor was reserved for the new Robert G. Bogle courtroom, and the old courthouse in the village hall was slated to become a multipurpose theater.
But the new courthouse needed modernization, and village contractors worked for years to renovate the building to modern standards, removing all traces of lead and asbestos. New plumbing, heating, air conditioning, lighting, sprinkler systems, backup generators, an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant wheelchair lift and security cameras were also installed.
The village decided to keep the art deco feel of the building, though, and hid the original bank vault behind a closet. The original bronze grillwork on the front door was restored and is now hanging on permanent display at the top of the second-floor stairs. The work took longer than originally anticipated and, finally, after five years, the entire project was finished.
“The transformation from a vacant building to a vibrant center of activity has already proven to be a shot in the arm for Rockaway Avenue,” Fare said
at the grand opening. “I know that this magnificent structure will remain
part of the fabric of the Incorporated Village of Valley Stream for generations to come.”