Hempstead trustees replace development board
The Village of Hempstead board temporarily appointed all of the village trustees as members of the cash-strapped Hempstead Community Development Agency.
Trustees Waylyn Hobbs, Perry Pettus, Don Ryan and Luis Figueroa join Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., who also is the CDA chairman, on the agency's five-member board. The move was made to help stabilize the CDA's finances, Hall said.
Terms for the former CDA members -- Hempstead residents appointed by the mayor -- ended in December, Hall said.
"Given the fact that the Village of Hempstead is financially responsible for the state-issued grants, I believe that it is in the best interest of the community to have the Village Board of Trustees serve as Community Development Agency board members until the Community Development Agency is financially sound," Hall said in a statement read at the Tuesday board meeting.
The CDA has been paying $588,000 annually for the past 10 years, nearly half its annual funding, to cover a $10 million mortgage it backed on behalf of the now-defunct 100 Black Men of Long Island Development Group that was unable to cover mortgage payments, taxes and operational expenses.
The agency still owes the county $6 million on the loan, which it used to acquire the block-long former bus terminal at 100 Main St. The village board has also approved more than $260,000 in loans to help cover the agency's payroll.
Community activist Katherine Garry cautioned that "by keeping the trustees on the CDA board, it makes it a more secretive board." She said Hall should have selected new board members from the community.
But Hall said the trustee appointments will help the village downtown revitalization project and establish accountability of disbursed money. Other municipalities appoint trustees to development agency boards, Hall said.
Former CDA board member Dan Oppenheimer said in an email Thursday that Hall's decision made for "an orderly transition," but he would like to see other village residents serve.
The agency is among the public authorities that have failed to file budgets, and annual and audit reports with the state's Authorities Budget Office. Not filing the reports on time can lead to censure, dismissal of officers, or dissolution of the agency.
Hall attributed the missed deadlines to former Commissioner Claude Gooding's resignation in May. The village is looking for a replacement, Hall said.