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New mayor of Hempstead Village must lead on development

Hempstead Mayor-elect Don Ryan celebrates his victory outside

Hempstead Mayor-elect Don Ryan celebrates his victory outside Village Hall on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Residents of the Village of Hempstead chose change last week when they elected Republican Don Ryan as their next mayor.

But now, Ryan has to go beyond saying no to the policies of outgoing Mayor Wayne Hall, a Democrat, and go beyond saying no to the massive redevelopment efforts in the village. Now, Ryan has to lead.

Ryan ran against development, but that’s easy when you’re the challenger. Once in office, Ryan might have a fuller understanding of the village’s needs and be open to new perspectives. Ryan should see whether he can blend his vision with those of developers Don Monti and Scott Rechler, rather than waste years of planning by walking away.

The Monti-Rechler project includes apartments, a hotel, movie theater, retail and more. Ryan said he’d consider commercial and “light industrial” development, but wants “little to no” residential construction, and has little appetite for tax breaks on the housing. He’s still thinking small.

The $2.5 billion project includes housing because a mix of uses would add to the village’s vitality and tax base, and because it could provide homes for those who attend nearby universities or work at the Nassau Hub. Some housing is a critical component of development in the troubled village, and the tax breaks are necessary to spur investment, lending and revenue for property that’s not on the tax rolls now. But there’s room to improve the plan — if everyone’s willing to listen.

“There’s always room for middle ground,” Ryan told us. Now, he has to try to find it. And so do the developers.

Ryan needs a transformative project to lead Hempstead Village into a more prosperous era. But first, he has to think big, and dream bigger. — The editorial board


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