The transition of East Garden City is taking shape -- too slowly for some Uniondale residents.

The Town of Hempstead this month officially changed the name of the East Garden City Fire Protection District to the Uniondale Fire Protection District-Town of Hempstead.

That action on Oct. 1 came after Hempstead Town officials agreed with Uniondale residents that the town should acknowledge several entities in the hamlet as being inside Uniondale, not East Garden City, as they had been for decades in some cases.

"Not to do so is disrespectful," said Pearl Jacobs, president of the hamlet's Nostrand Garden Civic Association.

Uniondale residents had protested for years against places in the hamlet being designated elsewhere. Some Uniondale businesses and residents -- including Roosevelt Field mall and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum -- have claimed East Garden City as home.

Media references to the misnomer can be found as far back as the 1940s. And Westbury historian Gary Monti said the 1919 incorporation document for Garden City "clearly delineates the boundaries of East Garden City."

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In 2000, it became a federal issue when the U.S. Census Bureau made the 3-square-mile area an official census tract.

Opponents of the designation began protesting anew after seeing references in March to East Garden City on plans for a new medical site. They feared East Garden City was created to discriminate against minorities and less affluent residents, and maybe even to reduce the school district's tax base by incorporating.

"We saw East Garden City as threatening the Uniondale community's identity, cohesion and financial future," said Greg Maney, a Hofstra University sociology professor and co-facilitator of the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition.

In May, the controversy led to a meeting involving Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and federal census officials, who, while agreeing to drop the name, indicated it might take 18 months to become official.

At the end of the meeting, Murray repeated a resolution from the previous month that the town would "refer to the disputed area as 'Uniondale' in town correspondence, statements, maps and websites."

Residents continue to complain that the former designation is used by Nassau police and local media.

Jeannine Maynard, another co-facilitator of the coalition, said the fire district designation "is a follow up on Murray's promise."

Uniondale Fire District Commissioner Noel Thomas said the department has "worked hard in collaboration with our civic partners to address what has been an attack on the identification, boarders and boundaries of Uniondale."

He said the department has not covered the area for 25 years, "because it was improperly designated . . . without notice to . . . [our] department," but officials are working to rectify the situation.For the time being, the Westbury Fire Department is protecting the area under a $140,000-a-year contract, town officials said.END