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Return armory to Freeport Village

Sen.-elect Michael Venditto has joined a list of

Sen.-elect Michael Venditto has joined a list of those opposing the idea of giving the Freeport Armory, seen here on Nov. 3, 2012, to a church-affiliated nonprofit for $1. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Another year, another rendition of Freeport Armory tug-of-war.

The Village of Freeport sorely needs the facility to house its Department of Public Works. The village once owned the armory, but donated it to the state in 1949. Getting it back would let the village sell its current DPW location and put that property back on the tax rolls. That matters because the land is both valuable and susceptible to flooding. If Freeport keeps its equipment there, it will have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for flood insurance annually.

At a news conference Monday, Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy called on the state to give the armory back to the village. State and county legislators attended to show support. State Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) pointed out that a bill to give the armory to the village passed in the Senate last year, but not in the Assembly.

The problem is Hempstead Democrat Earlene Hooper, deputy speaker of the State Assembly, known best as the State Legislature’s perennial champion at claiming travel money and per diems from the taxpayers.

Hooper supported giving the armory to the village when her ally, Andrew Hardwick, was mayor. But when Kennedy beat Hardwick, she demanded it be given to a community group run by another crony. Giving these armories back to local municipalities is the norm. It’s what the state did with armories in Riverhead, Huntington and Brookhaven. It’s what has to happen here.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver let Hooper block the village on this. New Speaker Carle Heastie should point out that she’s lost this fight and persuade her to do what’s best for her constituents.