Hempstead State of the Village touts crime decrease
Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. touted an 8 percent decrease in crime, the implementation of new crime-fighting tools and progress on the $2 billion downtown revitalization project during his annual State of the Village address.
More than 100 people turned out Wednesday night at the Hempstead Public Library to listen to Hall outline his vision and accomplishments, including what he called a turnaround in village finances. Hall said village officials plan to adopt a budget that is at or below the state tax cap for the 2013-14 fiscal year. "I will continue to manage our fiscal house using all methods at my disposal including expense cuts, debt refinancing, hiring freezes, restructuring and resource reallocation," he said.
Hall said officials have increased nontax revenue, such as $300,000 from cellular towers and parking field leases. They have also renegotiated contracts with the Police Benevolent Association and Civil Service Employees Association that resulted in saving millions of dollars, he said.
ShotSpotter gunshot detection technology has been fully installed and operational since the start of the month, Hall said. The new computerized system -- whose sensors allow police to pinpoint where gunshots are fired -- and the addition of 20 officers in the past three years will help target crime, he said.
"There is a lot that has to be done as far as lowering the crime," said Reginal Lucas, president of the Hempstead Coordination Council of Civic Associations. "I prayed for that ShotSpotter."
Hall also discussed the 10-year downtown redevelopment plan, with an anticipated summer groundbreaking, which will include infrastructure improvements, new housing and businesses, public open spaces, parking and entertainment. He said he is committed to ensuring that the goals in the community benefits agreement negotiated with the master developer are met: that village residents get 25 percent of jobs, and women and minority contractors get 25 percent of contracts.
"Controlling the violence is number one, but guaranteeing jobs is important too to ensure that our youth have an opportunity," said community activist Max Rodriguez, a village trustee from 1995 to 1999.
A 311-like system called HempStat, to allow residents to lodge complaints and get information, will be operational on March 1, Hall said. He said the village continues a court battle with landlords over a rental registration law that would require apartments to be inspected every two years. He also mentioned his efforts to block new bars or establishments that sell liquor.