Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams at the Theodore Roosevelt...

Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Legislative Building on Feb. 7, 2019. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Daily Point

Taking a rain check

When Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams showed up to a scheduled Freeport village planning board public hearing Tuesday evening, he was greeted by a sign on the door.

“The Site Plan Review Board Public Hearing scheduled for July 9, 2019 at 7 pm has been adjourned,” the sign read.

The meeting was scheduled to allow public comment on the controversial plan to demolish Freeport’s historic Plaza West bank building and replace it with a Lexus dealership.

Village officials declined to comment on the reasons for the adjournment.

A source with knowledge of the situation told The Point Wednesday that the meeting was canceled after a request by the village and the applicant, Atlantic Auto Group. The request came in late Tuesday afternoon, and the adjournment was posted in compliance with state open meetings law, the source added. 

Still, more than 40 people showed up to find the notice on the door, and Abrahams outside. Abrahams said he stuck around until about 8:30 p.m., talked with residents about the project and gathered names of those who had wished to speak.

“I was surprised that they wouldn’t even allow the public to speak,” Abrahams told The Point. "They just shut down the whole hearing process.”

Sources told The Point that the plans for the site likely will go back to the village’s zoning board for another vote. The planning board also is expected to reschedule its public hearing before the end of the month. 

Abrahams said he plans to attend future meetings on the property, adding that he is advocating for the zoning board to hold a public comment session separate from whatever vote it will take.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

New and improved

If you get emails from Rep. Lee Zeldin, you might have noticed a newly jazzy format. 

News release emails from the Shirley Republican now feature a bright lighthouse-and-seagulls logo up top. 

Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said the shift happened last month, along with the launch of a new website and e-newsletter format. The theme across all Zeldin communication platforms “highlights the beauty of NY-1,” Vincentz wrote in an email, pointing to a video on the new website featuring Zeldin at events on some of the district’s many beaches. 

It’s a seasonally appropriate shift for summer and maybe can help Zeldin highlight conservation in the district going into campaign season while Democrats point to his spotty record on climate issues. But The Point couldn’t help but remember a little snafu from the 2018 midterms when an online Zeldin campaign ad featured what appeared to be an Estonian lighthouse in place of the Montauk one. 

Vincentz confirms that this time, yes, the graphic designer based the image off the local lighthouse. 

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

A different kind of monster

Michael P. Ramirez

Michael P. Ramirez

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Reference Point

Making history

Credit: Newsday

As Wimbledon steams toward this weekend’s finals, it’s worth noting that 62 years ago this week marked the return to New York of the fabled tennis tournament’s newest champion.

Althea Gibson, a Harlem resident, was greeted with great fanfare after becoming the first black player to win a singles title at Wimbledon. Among the highlights: a ticker tape parade in Manhattan, like the one Wednesday honoring the U.S. women’s World Cup champs. Gibson’s victories in England back in 1957, in both singles and doubles, were two of the 11 Grand Slam titles won by Gibson in her path-breaking career.

“Miss Gibson is a good deal more than the new Wimbledon champion,” Newsday’s editorial board wrote on July 10, 1957.

The board recounted part of Gibson’s story as the daughter of a garage mechanic (and former sharecropper) and one of the players of the time who learned the game on public neighborhood courts instead of private clubs. The board lauded her for achieving “the topmost rungs of tournament play.” But it reserved its strongest praise for her as a racial pioneer, calling her “a very special case” — a reference to the role she played in the civil rights struggle.

“But no one can ignore the fact that in her quiet way she has broken another barrier standing in the way of full participation of Negroes in every form of American life,” the board wrote. “At a time when many states are fighting against the Supreme Court desegregation decision and when Southern Senators are filibustering against Negroes’ right to vote, it is good to have Miss Gibson representing the best the U.S. has to offer in the world of women’s tennis.”

That Wimbledon victory wasn’t the last first for Gibson. Later that year, she became the first black woman to appear on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine. She was regularly lauded by those who followed her, including American tennis greats Arthur Ashe and Venus and Serena Williams, the latter of whom has reached the semifinals at this year’s Wimbledon tourney.

If Williams does win, it would be her eighth Wimbledon title. But even though she has long since eclipsed Gibson in victories, Gibson still is singular in being the only tennis player feted with ticker tape in the Canyon of Heroes.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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