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Legislature approves controversial transfer of Freeport Armory

State senators gave final approval to a bill

State senators gave final approval to a bill early Friday that would transfer the old Freeport Armory, seen here on Nov. 3, 2012, to a church-affiliated nonprofit group backed by Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead). (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

State senators gave final approval to a bill early Friday that would transfer the old Freeport Armory to a church-affiliated nonprofit group backed by Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead).

And in a related bill, legislative officials said a proposal to overhaul Nassau County’s commercial property tax grievance system was expected to be approved before lawmakers adjourned for the summer on Friday.

The Freeport bill, sponsored by Hooper, would transfer the armory to the Cedarmore Corp., a nonprofit that shares space with Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ, across the street from the former National Guard facility for $1.

The bill largely mirrors one Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a year ago, citing a lack of community consensus about the future of the site. Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy vocally opposed the transfer to Cedarmore, preferring to use the site for a public works facility.

But this year, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano wrote a letter supporting the transfer. Mangano's support came after Hooper agreed to sponsor a bill to give state approval for the county executive's plan to change Nassau’s property-tax reimbursement system.

It would require commercial property owners who contest their assessments to place up to 10 percent of the assessed value of their property in an escrow account. Money from the escrow account would be used to pay commercial property tax refunds, ending the county's practice of borrowing $80 million a year to fund them, Mangano has said.

That bill hadn’t been acted on by 1 a.m. Friday. But officials said they expected it to be approved. The state Assembly planned to work through the night. The Senate, however, scheduled a 10 a.m. Friday session to act on the final bills of the year.

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