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North Hempstead's building commissioner calling it quits

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March 5, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

North Hempstead's building commissioner, who took office six years ago after a department scandal, has announced plans to resign in May.

Kevin Cronin, 62, commissioner of the Department of Building, Safety Inspection and Enforcement since February 2008, said Friday his resignation is effective May 23.

Cronin said leaving was his choice and that he plans to pursue "other interests," but declined to offer specifics.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, a Democrat, promised changes in the department during her campaign last year and in several speeches when she took office.

In her State of the Town address in January, Bosworth vowed to make the department more "user-friendly" and to focus on "customer service."

Town officials plan to launch a search for Cronin's replacement, town spokesman Ryan Mulholland said.

Cronin was appointed by the town board following a corruption scandal that rocked the town in 2007. The Nassau County district attorney indicted five building department officials; and officials including former Commissioner David Wasserman were sentenced to jail. Prosecutors said the scandal involved employees granting permits without required inspections.

Bosworth earlier this year appointed Lauren Summa as the department's first-ever applicant advocate, to help residents navigate the permit process and trim red tape. Summa previously was director of constituent affairs in the supervisor's office.

Residents had complained in recent years that permits were taking too long to process.

"Because of the scandal, a paralysis had developed; it was very difficult to get things out," Cronin said. "Permits were taking over a year to get out -- permits that had basically everything done correctly on them. We were able to cut through that to get it to a more manageable number."

Cronin, who received about $127,371 in total compensation in 2013, according to town payroll data, was formerly town public safety commissioner in Brookhaven.

Cronin said the department is on its way to becoming more accommodating to residents. "With increased staffing, once budget constraints are eased, and economic conditions are improved, staffing increases will only help to achieve that goal of a consumer friendly department," Cronin said.

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