ALBANY – After nearly a decade, the fight over the Freeport Armory is over.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday that will turn over the former National Guard site to the Freeport village government, aides said.
The property, a 3-acre parcel off Babylon Turnpike, has been the subject of political wrangling and gubernatorial vetoes since the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs abandoned it in 2011.
“This land has been vacant for nearly a decade, after suffering extensive damage from natural disasters, and we cannot allow it to continue to deteriorate and have a detrimental effect on the village,” Cuomo said. “This bill allows the state to transfer ownership to the village of Freeport, which will now be able to transform the property from a blight into an asset for the community."
Typically, the state has handed over such sites to local governments, as was the case with National Guard property in Riverhead and Huntington.
But Earlene Hooper, who represented Freeport in the Assembly until this year, repeatedly sought legislation to hand over the property to a church group. Twice, Cuomo vetoed bills to do so, citing strong opposition from village officials. Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy himself once drove to Albany to deliver a 1,000-signature petition urging Cuomo to veto Hooper’s bill.
Two other times, Hooper withdrew her bill amid a vote of the full Assembly when it became clear it would be voted down – a feat so rare it happens maybe once a decade in the state Legislature.
Last fall, Hooper lost to Assemb. Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead), who, in one of her first actions in office, proposed a bill to transfer ownership to the village government. (Elected as Taylor Raynor, she changed her surname last summer).
The Assembly and State Senate each approved the bill before the legislature adjourned in June.