State legislation that would return the Freeport Armory back to village control now awaits the governor’s signature after nearly a decade of struggling for control.
The New York State Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday on a bill sponsored by Rep. Taylor Raynor (D-Hempstead) to transfer the armory on state land back to the village of Freeport.
The vote follows a unanimous Senate vote last month on a companion bill by Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford).
The armory property was decommissioned and vacated by the National Guard’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs in 2011.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said, pending the governor’s signature, the village will conduct an environmental review of the property that sits on Babylon Turnpike and review architectural plans to consider what can be done with the building or the property.
“After sitting vacant all these years, it belonged to Freeport at one time and the village was glad to surrender to the federal government,” Kennedy said. “It should have been returned a long time ago. It needs to be maintained for the aesthetics of the community and think of the best options.”
Former Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper had repeatedly attempted to transfer control of the armory to Cedarmore Corp., a nonprofit that shares space with Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ, across the street from the former armory, for $1. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed the bill in 2013 and 2014, citing strong opposition in the community. The bill was pulled from an Assembly vote in 2015 and 2017.
Raynor (D-Hempstead) said settling the status of the armory issue was one of her top two priorities along with helping Hempstead schools when she arrived in Albany in January as a newly elected legislator.
She said the three-acre parcel “was not being utilized” for years, a situation she called “just wasteful.”
“The property really wasn’t being maintained and for the most part was abandoned,” she said.
The property transfer, if approved by Cuomo, will “give the village an opportunity to work with the whole community” to determine how best to use it, Raynor said.
Cuomo's office did not respond to comment Wednesday on whether he planned to sign the bill.