Blighted motel won't reopen, county says

For years, the Long Beach Motor Inn in For years, the Long Beach Motor Inn in Island Park has housed transient tenants, including criminals and sex offenders, elected officials said at an event Sunday in a parking lot next door. (Nov. 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Nassau County will buy or condemn the Long Beach Motor Inn to prevent the motel from reopening in Island Park, County Executive Edward Mangano said Sunday.

For years, the motel has housed transient tenants, including criminals and sex offenders, elected officials said at an event Sunday in a parking lot next door.

"Do we want this eyesore?" Mangano asked the crowd of about 75 residents, joined by town, state and local officials, as well as former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. "We're going to take it down."

The county is in negotiations with the motel's owner, which Mangano described as productive. But if necessary, Mangano said the county would condemn the building. The property has been closed since it was damaged in superstorm Sandy last year.

"We're going to build smarter, we're going to build stronger," he said.

The motel has been the site of numerous protests in recent years, with residents opposing the county's use of it to house both homeless people and sex offenders. Last year Alphonso Barnes, 57, was convicted of raping a woman in Long Beach while living in the motel in 2009.

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"The people that have been staying there are definitely not beneficial to the surrounding area," Theresa Balsamo of the Island Park Civic Association said.

She said her organization's members are "happy" that the county is on board with making changes to the location. "They would love to get rid of it."

Mangano has directed the county attorney to negotiate with the Town of Hempstead on an "agreement" to redevelop the site, possibly as senior housing, according to his office.

D'Amato, whose grandchildren live near the motel, said, "this has been a plague on our community." He said tearing down the motel may end up causing a renaissance in the area.

Rich Caputo, 53, who lives nearby, said, "it's been a long time coming." He said the motel and those staying there have been bad for the area.

County Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said she believed it should be turned into senior housing, though whether it is torn down or refurbished has yet to be determined.

She called the closure of the motel a year ago, "the one good thing to come from Sandy."

With Alfonso A. Castillo

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