Village to vote on community benefits deal
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The community benefits agreement for Hempstead Village's $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment plan has been completed, but some community activists say they are not happy with the negotiated deal between village officials and the developers.
The village board will vote Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to consider entering into the CBA with the project's master developer, Renaissance Downtowns UrbanAmerica. The plan includes a combination of housing options, a hotel, shops, open spaces, parking and entertainment.
"It is an important step to turning things around in the community," Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. said.
The agreement calls for "good-faith efforts" to give 25 percent of construction and permanent jobs first to village residents, 25 percent of contracts first to village contractors and provide a minimum of 10 percent of units for affordable housing. The project is expected to create about 3,500 permanent and 10,000 construction jobs.
"It is not a good CBA," said village resident Diane Goins, a member of New York Communities for Change, which wrote to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice about the project possibly having a discriminatory impact on African-Americans and Hispanics, and failing to translate documents into Spanish. "It doesn't meet the communities' need and nothing is guaranteed."
The agreement also outlines plans to establish local contracting, jobs and business referral centers. The developer would also assist the village in possibly establishing community-serving facilities, such as a small-business incubator. It also said the developer and village agree not to seek eminent domain.
"While today they say it is not the 'intent' to use eminent domain, what will happen tomorrow when they want the property?" said Katherine Garry, of the Committee to Save Hempstead, which will hold a demonstration Tuesday against the project outside village hall at 6 p.m. "They can easily modify the CBA . . . We're concerned about the gentrification that would force the residents and the businesses out of the community."
A five-member oversight committee would also be created. Noncompliance could result in monetary penalties, stop-work orders or even imprisonment, the agreement said.
Hall said Tuesday night's meeting is not expected to have a public comment period, but he might consider one. George Siberon, of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, said, "The community is upset that they don't have an opportunity to respond."