Lacking votes, Hooper pulls Freeport Armory bill for now
ALBANY — A Long Island assemblywoman halted a vote on a controversial bill to transfer the Freeport Armory to a church-affiliated nonprofit when it became clear the measure wouldn’t get the votes to pass.
Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) withdrew her bill — which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has vetoed twice previously — from the Assembly floor late Tuesday when a running tally showed she had 77 of the necessary 100 votes needed to approve the transfer. A two-thirds majority of the 150-member chamber is necessary to make such transfers of state land.
Her decision came after Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook), who said he represents the land where the armory sits, spoke against the measure and noted that village officials oppose it as well.
Nonetheless, Hooper was trying to resuscitate the bill on Wednesday — the final scheduled day of the 2017 state legislative session — other legislators said.
The measure would transfer the armory to Cedarmore Corp., a nonprofit that shares space with Zion Cathedral Church of God in Christ for $1. The bill largely mirrors similar ones the governor vetoed in 2013 and 2014, citing a lack of community consensus about the future of the site.
Curran sponsors a competing bill that would return the armory to the village. It had owned the parcel, located on Babylon Turnpike, until donating it to the state in 1949 to house a National Guard unit.
The state Division of Military and Naval Affairs vacated the building in 2011, and it has been leased to Nassau County to store highway equipment.
Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy has campaigned to return the parcel to the village to store public works equipment that otherwise is kept in a facility within the local flood zone.
“The Village of Freeport has presented a compelling argument that the public good is served by the transfer of the armory back to the village and not to a private entity,” Curran said during the debate on the Assembly floor.
In previous years, Hooper has argued that Cedarmore could use the facility to offer programs for at-risk youth and operating space to other nonprofit organizations.
On Tuesday, she said that transferring it to the church affiliate would be preferable because public works equipment contaminates the site.
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