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Q&A with Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray talks to

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray talks to editors at Newsday in Melville. (June 6, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Part of an occasional series of interviews with Long Island's town and municipal leaders
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray recently visited Newsday to talk to reporters Aisha Al-Muslim and Patrick Whittle and a group of editors about issues and developments in the town. Here are excerpts.

On the town's finances:

"I'm very proud that the Town of Hempstead has a AAA bond rating. We don't need to resort to one-shot revenues, fiscal gimmicks or layoffs that unfortunately other municipalities need to do in order to stay afloat . . . We are also in the middle of a tax freeze . . . We borrow $50 million a year and we pay off $50 million a year. By keeping that balanced structure, we have been able to stay afloat and to do well . . . For every three people who retire, we hire two and that has gone a long way in keeping our budget straight."

On the town's renewable energy park in Point Lookout:

"It's the first of its kind on Long Island and a tremendous victory in a green sense . . . The wind turbine has produced about 120,000 kilowatt-hours so far . . . We have a 60-kilowatt solar field . . . and a solar house . . . We also have a shellfish nursery that is completely solar- and wind-powered, where we are able to produce 9 million sea clams a year that are deposited into the bays. We are looking into geothermal energy and . . . putting solar panels on all senior centers."

On the failed Lighthouse Project:

The project "was not sustainable -- that's the reason why we could not go with the [New York Islanders owner Charles] Wang plan . . . The roadways and the infrastructure just would not support 10 to 11 million square feet of development there. Wang's plan had the density of the Upper West Side . . . His concessions were that, 'We are hoping to get funds from the feds, we are hoping to get funds from the state.' The problem from a zoning authority standpoint is that we can't approve plans or developments based on wish lists."

On the future of the Nassau Coliseum property:

"In June 2011, the town board took the extraordinary step of creating a zone that was sustainable and that we could all live with . . . We tried to create as flexible of a plan that we could so that the landowner, Nassau County, could then work with a developer with creating a new development on the property. We basically want to be flexible and get out of the way . . . I'm very hopeful that a developer or developers are going to step up because it is just too much of an important piece of property."

On a casino at Belmont Park and Elmont's Hempstead Turnpike rezoning:

"The stakeholders would ultimately make the decision whether there would be a casino or not. They are just going to have to do their due diligence with the community . . . Obviously if a casino would be on the property, that would flow into our new zone in Elmont for the Hempstead Turnpike corridor and hopefully help our zone . . . It called for the first time for mixed-use -- residences above commercial structures."

On the state comptroller conducting an audit of the town's animal shelter budget:

"I have no concerns about our budgeting practices in our animal shelter . . . I do believe the comptroller might have been pressured into calling for the audit, and that's fine. I don't care what the motivations are . . . I view some of the concerns from the animal shelter people as opportunities to improve our shelter . . . We have two full-time veterinarians, we conducted a national search for an animal shelter director, we have a new assistant director, we will have central air conditioning, we are creating beautiful walking trails, we have a TNR program and a volunteer program."

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