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Hempstead mayor calls for downtown redevelopment, job creation

Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr.

Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. presides over a commission meeting on Nov. 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. outlined his plans for Hempstead Village’s future — including a controversial downtown redevelopment project — during his annual State of the Village address Thursday night.

Hall, who is running for a fourth term, said the village’s finances have improved since he was first elected in 2005, and plans are in the works to hire more police officers and install stationary license-plate readers as a crime-fighting tool.

“The village is in better shape than it was 12 years ago,” he told a largely supportive crowd of about 200 people in Kennedy Memorial Park’s gymnasium. Hall’s hourlong speech was themed “Hempstead Always Evolving.”

But Hall’s critics — including trustee Don Ryan, who is challenging him for mayor in the March 21 election — have questioned his handling of the redevelopment project, which involved controversial tax breaks. The project broke ground last month.

“Can he do in the next four years what he didn’t do in the first 12?” said Ryan, who attended the speech. “His credibility is in question.”

Henry Salgado, who is also running for mayor, said redevelopment so far has consisted only of photo ops.

“This village needs real leadership,” Salgado said after Hall’s address.

Hall said he wants a $1.5 million state anti-poverty grant to focus on job training, especially for students graduating from high school and people moving to the community after spending time in jail or prison.

“We’re going to give them hope,” he said.

Twenty percent of village residents live below the poverty line, he said.

The mayor said the redevelopment project will create roughly 18,000 jobs — 25 percent of which are guaranteed for Hempstead residents — and become an economic boon for the village, generating $70 million over 10 years.

Hall said his goal is to attract young residents who can’t afford to live in Manhattan but want easy access to the city via the village’s train station, such as his two sons.

“I know a lot of people say a lot of things about me,” Hall said. “Whatever you may think about me ..., what I do is for all of you.”

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