Hempstead Village approves contract for jobs center
The Hempstead Village Board has approved a $107,000 contract with a local nonprofit to establish a jobs and business referral center -- as part of the village's $2 billion downtown redevelopment project.
The board voted 4-1 Tuesday to accept a consulting agreement that calls for Hempstead-based ABBA Leadership Center, led by Evangelist Reginald Benjamin, to receive a $25,000 advance and $6,818 a month to fund the startup.
The contract requires ABBA to work with Crescent Consulting, a Peekskill-based minority-owned management consulting services firm that would run a separate local contracting referral center.
"We are ready to go to work," said Benjamin, who was accompanied at Village Hall by about 60 men, some with criminal records, whom he is preparing to fill some of the 10,000 construction jobs expected to be created by the revitalization project.
"You work very hard in the community, reverend," trustee Perry Pettus told Benjamin at the meeting. "I know you are going to get a lot of jobs for the people in the community, and I am going to vote yes because of that."
Trustee Donald Ryan voted against approving the contract, citing concerns about the contract's short one-year term and its mandate that the village Community Development Agency oversee ABBA's performance.
"The CDA at this time is in disarray," Ryan said. "By that alone, I am not comfortable . . . as much as I know that jobs are needed."
Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., who chairs the CDA, said it "is in transition, but I assure you we would be able to handle it."
The revitalization project's master developer, Renaissance Downtowns UrbanAmerica, will contribute $140,000 a year for three years for each of the two centers, along with $18.5 million in zoning fees over an eight-year period, officials have said.
At the meeting, Donald Monti, chief executive of Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns, presented the village with a check for $100,000, which he said represents the startup for the job and business center.
But village resident Caprice Rines criticized Monti's move as a bribe and said the developer should not have been tied to the job and business center.