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Kessel secures nicer digs for Nassau County IDA

The new chairman of the Industrial Development Agency returns to a familiar location.

New Nassau County Industrial Development Agency chairman Richard Kessel is returning to the fourth floor of 1 West St., where he once sparred with county executives as something of a gadfly.

Kessel, the former LIPA chief whom County Executive Laura Curran nominated to the board in January, has moved the IDA staff of about six up one floor in the Mineola building.

Kessel said he walked onto the third floor to discover the “hideous” digs the agency had been using since January. Before that, the IDA had been housed in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, he said.

“Basically, it was pretty run down, not painted, falling apart — it was pretty hideous space,” Kessel said. “The offices that we were in were — let me say politely — not accommodating. The idea is supposed to be attracting businesses, and you want to have CEOs in.”

Kessel said he worked with Curran’s administration to secure the new space on the fourth floor. Before the move upstairs, Kessel sometimes met with business leaders in the county executive’s conference room because it was nicer.

Kessel, who ran an unsuccessful race for county executive in 1993, called it “an amazing irony” that “where I started my career in politics, I’ll probably be ending it — on 1 West St. on the fourth floor.”

In the old days, he said, he spent a lot of time there “dealing and dueling with prior county executives.”

He ticked off some of the county executives with whom he had combative and energetic exchanges, from Republican Ralph G. Caso in the 1970s to Democrat Thomas Suozzi in the early 2000s.

Caso, he once recalled, told him: “Young man, you’re through.”

Kessel recalled that as vice chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, he once used a credit card to “break into” County Executive Thomas Gulotta’s office to “get him to make a deal on the budget.” Kessel had been knocking on a side door; Gulotta, who was inside, was surprised, but the parties ultimately came to terms.

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