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Future of Freeport Armory transfer remains uncertain

Freeport Armory in Freeport on June 1, 2013.

Freeport Armory in Freeport on June 1, 2013. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The State Assembly has approved the transfer of the Freeport Armory to a local nonprofit group, but the future of the measure remained uncertain as lawmakers prepared to adjourn for the legislative session Thursday.

The bill, sponsored in the Assembly by Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) but opposed by Freeport's mayor, does not yet have a sponsor in the GOP-controlled Senate. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a nearly identical bill last year.

If the legislation passes this week, "the governor will examine the bill in light of the concerns raised in his veto message last year," an administration official said.

The bill, approved by the Assembly 101-33 on Monday, would transfer control of the state-owned 3-acre armory property for $1 to the Cedarmore Corp., a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth.

A Quonset hut on the property would be used by the Freeport police department.Reached in Albany, Hooper said the bill "would be a great help in the community."

But Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy wants to relocate the village's Department of Public Works, located in a flood zone, to the armory.

"That is the only possible location for DPW without spending $10 million," Kennedy said.In a letter to Cuomo last week, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he supported Hooper's armory bill because it would give residents access to programs "needed in the community."

Mangano's support came after Hooper agreed to sponsor a bill to give state approval for the county executive's plan to overhaul Nassau's commercial property tax reimbursement system.

Kennedy called Mangano's support "absolutely" a quid pro quo with Hooper.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin dismissed the assertion as "nonsense" and said the fate of the armory bill will not affect the tax plan's passage.

Hooper said she "could not comment" on whether she would continue to support Mangano's tax plan if the armory bill fails.

The armory, located on Babylon Turnpike, formerly housed a National Guard unit. The state Division of Military and Naval Affairs vacated the building in 2011, and it now is leased to Nassau County to store highway equipment.

With Sid Cassese

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