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Great Neck Arts Center gets $150G boost

Ballet Instructor Nichole Piacenza teaches at the Great

Ballet Instructor Nichole Piacenza teaches at the Great Neck Arts Center. (Oct. 18, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

The Great Neck Arts Center will get $150,000 more from the Town of North Hempstead to beef up its arts programming.

The funding was approved at a North Hempstead Town Board meeting last week, amending a January pact authorizing acquisition of the nonprofit.

Town officials in January agreed to pay $850,000 for the center, freeing it of its mortgage and debt service obligations. Under the deal, Kaiman said, the 18-year-old center can add to its programming and rebrand itself -- with a "greater townwide focus" -- and a new name: the Gold Coast Arts Center.

The vote was 7-0.

Before voting for the amended contract, Dina De Giorgio, the GOP councilwoman from Port Washington who is running for supervisor, acknowledged her past opposition. "It's no secret that I didn't support the acquisition of the Great Neck Arts Center." However, she said, she supported more money set aside "outright" for the arts.

"I just don't think as a policy, the town should be acquiring additional buildings when we do own a lot of buildings ourselves . . . ," she said.

Tom Dwyer, a Democratic councilman from Roslyn Heights, said the deal, which evolved from an earlier plan, averted "the loss of an economic driver in Great Neck."

In October, town officials said the Business and Tourism Development Corp., a quasi-development agency, would acquire the center for about $800,000, taking out $3 million in bonds. But Kaiman said having that agency acquire the center was undesirable, because it could not be set up as tax-exempt.

Kaiman said the rebranding would kick off officially next month.

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