Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall traded barbs this week over plans for a $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment project.
Goosby led a gathering of residents at Tuesday's Village Board meeting to protest the development and plans for two five-story apartment buildings. The downtown development was not on this week's agenda.
The village has contracted with Plainview-based developer Renaissance Downtowns to build apartments, shops, restaurants, an entertainment complex and a hotel in the next 10 years. The project is being fully funded by Renaissance on vacant and privately owned property at no expense to the village, Hall said. There has been a series of protests before work is expected to begin this summer.
The village planning board approved the two apartment complexes by a 3-2 vote this year. The proposed 336 apartments and a three-story parking garage are set to be built on the site of two parking lots at Washington and Front Streets. Goosby and other residents were not permitted to speak during the planning board meeting.
"The main reason we're protesting is that we don't have the infrastructure for those buildings," Goosby said Wednesday. "We're the most densely populated village in New York. We don't need any more people. We need good economic development and jobs for our young people."
Goosby said no public funding should go toward the project and she would lobby against it with federal elected officials.
Hall said the project is designed to bring jobs and economic revitalization to the village where a third of the downtown properties are either vacant or tax-exempt.
Nassau County is giving the village a $20 million grant to replace its aging sewer system to prepare for the project. The village is also receiving an additional $8.5 million in other state infrastructure grants.Hall said he has not spoken to Goosby outside of meetings, and he said she is spreading incorrect information."I'm disappointed how she went about this thing, having never called to have a meeting," Hall said. "She should know we can't do anything in secret. I think people will support this when they realize the potential for local jobs."
Renaissance officials said the project will not include eminent domain or displace residents and is offering extensive community development benefits. "We're excited to put the men and women of Hempstead to work this summer," said Brandon Palanker, Renaissance vice president for marketing.