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Uniondale residents demand East Garden City designation be repealed

James B. Jacobs along with other Uniondale residents

James B. Jacobs along with other Uniondale residents protest to the Town of Hempstead town board asking for Uniondale to stay whole and a portion not separated to East Garden City on March 10, 2015 in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A cadre of Uniondale residents are asking elected officials to help repeal the designation of East Garden City and restore the community as part of the neighboring hamlet of Uniondale.

The 3-square-mile stretch that includes Roosevelt Field mall, the Nassau Coliseum and some of Hofstra University has been designated East Garden City in census records since 2000.

In a statement, U.S. Census Bureau officials said the designation could be changed through local input prior to the 2020 census. "Census designated places are created to help present statistics but do not serve as surveyed or legal boundaries," the statement says.

There have been references to East Garden City since the 1940s, and the East Garden City Fire Protection District was created in 1941, but the hamlet had no specific boundaries until 2000.

Uniondale residents said they recently noticed changes in signage.

About 100 residents and members of the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition picketed Tuesday morning outside Hempstead Town Hall and during the town board meeting. Protesters said the designation would lead to higher taxes in Uniondale and increased competition for federal grants.

Residents fear the move was made to redistrict and discriminate against minorities and less wealthy residents in Uniondale.

Greg Maney, a sociology professor at Hofstra and a coordinator of the demonstration outside town hall, asked the town board to pass a resolution proclaiming that East Garden City does not exist.

"East Garden City is a fiction," he said. "It's northern Uniondale. There are no demographics -- like a significant change in population -- to support the redistricting of that area by the town."

Opponents say the region was redistricted away from Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby's district in 2013 into Councilman Edward Ambrosino's district, which includes Garden City.

Town officials said the region was redrawn because Goosby's district, which includes Uniondale, had reached its maximum population density; and the boundaries were not intended to single out East Garden City or Uniondale.

Town officials said they have no jurisdiction in the region's name. But Town Supervisor Kate Murray said town officials support having the hamlet of about 6,200 included as part of Uniondale.

Goosby said she would meet this month with New York Sens. Charles Schumerand Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Kathleen Rice to advocate changing the name.

Town officials sent a letter to the congressional delegation in 2012 -- before Rice was in Congress -- and another letter this week asking to change the designation on the next census. It's unclear if the representatives have jurisdiction over the census.

"We will get to the bottom of this," Murray said. "We're with you in Uniondale, and we intend to convince the feds to change this."

The 2000 census showed East Garden City with 979 residents, which grew to 6,208 residents by the 2010 census.

Town spokesman Mike Deery said East Garden City's designation will have no impact on sales tax, property tax or federal funding.

Because Uniondale and East Garden City are both unincorporated, taxes in the hamlets go to the town's general fund. East Garden City is part of the Uniondale school district, and those taxes go to Uniondale schools.

The hamlet has no legal standing for funding or a different tax base, unless it is incorporated. Neither area would qualify for community development block grants, Deery said.

With Sid Cassese


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