Friday, May 9, 2008

A Hotel Only A Mother Could Love. . .

. . .Or Town Supervisor Kate Murray

Mother's Day gift idea: Shut Hempstead's seedy Courtesy Hotel
Friday, May 9th 2008, 4:00 AM

The Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead will be the site of a protest on Mothers' Day

Before heading to Mother's Day brunches Sunday, outraged moms said they will rally against an alleged hot-sheet hotel they say makes West Hempstead unsafe for kids.
For the second year in a row, scores of carnation-wearing mothers plan to lash out at Hempstead Town officials who broke promises to close the Courtesy Hotel, which locals have blasted for being a haven for drug addicts and prostitutes.
"We want to recapture what had been a very vibrant part of our town, where you sent your children without any supervision," said rally leader Rosalie Norton, 73, who has three adult children.
The moms support a deal the hotel's owners inked in 2006 to sell the land to a developer as long as the town changed the zoning to accommodate a high-density apartment complex.
But the town instead opted for a controversial urban-renewal plan for the area in January, stalling the closure of the hotel.
Norton's daughter, Susan DeFilippis, 46, said she always warns her teenage sons, Mike and Mark, not to walk past the Courtesy because "they run the risk of being mugged."
Others said they didn't mind sacrificing part of their Mother's Day to attend the half-hour protest - as long as it gets results.
"It's better than sleeping in and getting breakfast in bed," said Barbara Ejnes, 43, who said she worries about her son, Jake, 13, and daughter, Kelly, 14, riding their bikes past the hotel.
At last year's Mother's Day protest, Town Supervisor Kate Murray vowed to help close the hotel by the end of 2007 - a broken pledge that angered this year's attending moms. Murray won't go to this year's rally, town spokesman Mike Deery said.
But Deery said the supervisor "did expect and hope" the Courtesy would have been demolished by now, and still wants the seedy inn to be shuttered soon.
"We're working as hard as possible to end the hotel's reign of terror," Murray said in a statement.
The Courtesy's demise can't come quickly enough for Karen Crowley, 37, of West Hempstead, who has a 6-year-old son and 2-1/2-year-old daughter - and another child on the way.
"The Courtesy Hotel limits the potential of West Hempstead," Crowley said. "As hard as we fight and as long as we scream, nobody seems to be responding."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Will This Become An Annual Event?

2nd "Mother's Day Rally" Planned At Courtesy (Continental Breakfast Not Included)
from 10:45 AM to 11:15 AM

at the parking field across from the Courtesy Hotel
Hempstead Avenue, east of Woodfield Road
West Hempstead
Yet another Mother's Day, another year, another opportunity for Kate Murray & Kompany to hang that MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner from the facade of the Courtesy Hotel.
Will our community be "celebrating" Mother's Day across from the Courtesy in 2009, 2010, or beyond?
Only Kate Murray knows, and she's not telling anyone!
Send an e-mail to Kate at and tell her you want the Courtesy sold to Trammel-Crow and closed NOW.
West Hempstead has waited long enough!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kate Can You Hear Me?

Civic Prez Keeps Pressure On Kate


To Supervisor Murray

(The following is a letter written by West Hempstead Civic Association President Rosalie Norton to Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray in regard to the Courtesy Hotel. It is being printed at the author's request.)

It has been three months since the adoption of the Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead. The following information is important for you to know. It brings to your attention the number of police calls and arrests, which have been made at the Courtesy and at the Capri Motel. It clearly shows the real and present dangers the Courtesy, as well as the Capri Motel, are to the residents of West Hempstead and all of the communities surrounding the area. To better grasp the extent of the problems, I am providing a report for each month since the year 2008 began.

Please share the following police activity information with the Hempstead Town Board members.

Police calls during the month of January 2008 at the Courtesy:
• 17 calls for service
• 8 arrests (drugs, prostitution, weapons, robbery)
•18 case reports
• 2 field interviews

Police calls during the month of February 2008 at the Courtesy Hotel:
• 21 calls for service
• 4 arrests
• 4 case reports
• 2 field investigations

Police calls during the month of March 2008 at the Courtesy Hotel:
• 8 calls for service
• 2 arrests
• 6 case reports

Police calls during the month of January 2008 at the Capri:
• 8 calls for service
• 1 arrest
• 3 case reports
• 1 field interview

Police calls during the month of February 2008 at the Capri:
• 4 calls for service
• 2 arrests
• 2 case reports
• 0 field investigations

Police calls during the month of March 2008 at the Capri:
• 4 arrests
• 3 case reports
• 0 field investigations

Since the beginning of 2008, in just three months, the total between the two hotels:
• 58 calls for service
• 21 arrests
• 36 case reports
• 5 field reports

How much longer do we have to wait to have the Courtesy sold and closed? The Capri is no better and can't be overlooked. Is this what West Hempstead deserves? Would you want this in your community? Unfortunately, it is my community and only we feel the pain.

Rosalie Norton
President, West Hempstead Civic Association
- - -
Meanwhile, the "STAY ALL NIGHT" rate of $49.77 + tax (arrive after Midnight) is still in effect, and this includes FREE Continental Breakfast!

Clearly, the BEST bargain in West Hempstead.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Civic Presidents, Past And Present, Blast Murray, Town Board

Courtesy Saga Far From Over, Community's Crusade For Closure Continues

The voices of the West Hempstead community may have fallen upon deaf ears as the Hempstead Town Board adopted the much maligned Urban Renewal Plan, but clearly, the voices of community will not be silenced.

For the latest on the Courtesy hotel, and other matters of community concern, check in regularly with the West Hempstead Civic Association.

Read on, as Seth Bykofsky, past president of the WHCA, and Rosalie Norton, the organization's current chief executive, lament the Town's verdict, and vow to fight on for the benefit of our West Hempstead.

Kudos, and our sincere thanks, to these courageous stalwarts of community!
- - -
From The Three Village Times:

We Shall Not Stand Idly By

The longstanding sentiment in the West Hempstead community has been to permit the forces of private enterprise and the marketplace to prevail, while keeping the intervention of government at a minimum.

At the same time, the Long Island Index released a study that revealed a majority of Long Islanders in favor of increased housing density in and around "downtown" business districts, as well as the creation of additional rental units, thus easing the affordable housing crunch.

Unfortunately, the voices of reason, smart-growth advocates, and community collectively fell upon deaf ears at Hempstead Town Hall, as members of the Town Board, blindly following the lead of Supervisor Kate Murray as she meanders down that road of suburban blight, voted to adopt the ill-conceived and community-opposed Urban Renewal Plan.

In so doing, the town nixed the Trammell-Crow proposal to build upscale rental apartments on the Courtesy Hotel site, citing its objection to density, and rebuffed the pleas of a community to boldly move forward, not only with the revitalization of its eastern gateway, but with a smart growth initiative that could well serve as a model for the new - and sustainable - suburbia.

In taking a staunch and unyielding position, contrary to both the conventional wisdom on fashioning livable suburbs, and to the will of the community they were elected to serve, Kate Murray and the Hempstead Town Board stood modern precepts of suburban revitalization on head, and negated the very hallmark of representative government - a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The latest skirmish before the Town Board may have dealt a blow to our hamlet's, if not the township's, efforts to rebuild and rejuvenate, but as anyone who has been joined in this battle to take back our town (now going on 13 long years) will tell you, we, as a community, and as the guardians of this hamlet's tomorrows, shall not stand idly by as Kate Murray and company hold hostage our town's future.

The fight will go on, in the trenches along the avenue, at Town Hall, and in the press, for we dare not surrender to those who would usurp local control and undermine the wishes of the governed, under the guise of telling us what is best for our own community.

Seth D. Bykofsky

(The writer is the former president of the West Hempstead Civic Association.)
- - -
Town Ignores Residents' Wishes

The Town of Hempstead voted on Jan. 22, 2008 to adopt an Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead which promotes sprawl, prohibits needed density, doesn't provide the greatest tax benefits, embraces the status quo, and deprives our community of promises made to facilitate the closing of the Courtesy Hotel as quickly as possible.

The town board has completely ignored thousands of West Hempstead residents, our religious leaders, and the members of the West Hempstead Civic Association who opposed the town's Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead. Six out of the seven members on the town board chose to adopt a plan, which is flawed and provides little relief from the most important problems facing our community, which are, the Courtesy Hotel, lack of housing for our young people, seniors looking to downsize, revitalization of our business area, and some relief from our high taxes.

Terrible messages were sent by the town to the residents of West Hempstead and to other unincorporated communities - don't give us the benefit of your ideas, knowledge and thoughts for what is best for your community, because we won't listen and we will do what we want whether you like it or not. What a sad commentary on representative government and a perfect example of poor government.

If the town thought they could bully the residents of West Hempstead into becoming submissive lambs or silence our voices, they are very much mistaken. They have only succeeded in provoking us into taking more action and making us more determined to be treated fairly and with dignity. The West Hempstead community is not going to be silenced or discouraged.

Can we influence the town board to do what our residents want? I don't know. What I do know is that we will make sure that the entire Town of Hempstead will know that what is happening in West Hempstead could happen in their community. We want to alert everyone that if the town continues on its path to obstruct the private sale of the Courtesy Hotel, every unincorporated community in the Town of Hempstead had better beware.

The Courtesy Hotel and all its problems can come to your community or one near you, and this could happen with the town's help. Under the Urban Renewal Plan adopted by the town, they are obligated to help the owners of the Courtesy find a different location within the town. Will the town or perhaps the owners choose your community?

Something else happened on Jan 22, 2008. The town board broke its promises to the residents of West Hempstead. One promise was made in May of 2007 that they would close the Courtesy by the end of 2007. The other was made back in 2005 when they told the attorney for the Courtesy Hotel that they would gladly work with any reputable developer to facilitate a private sale. As the old saying goes, "Promises are made to be broken and a promise is only as good as the person making it."

Many have likened the plight of the residents of West Hempstead to watching a match between people and the government, between right and wrong. Government won this round, but at the expense of losing the faith and confidence of the people. When good people continue to stand up for what is right they expose the shortcomings of a government, which tramples on the basic premise of our constitution. Government should rule by the people, for the people and of the people. It would do well for the town board to remember that arrogance always comes before a fall and to totally disregard the West Hempstead community is wrong, unconscionable and could become their Achilles Heel.

Rosalie Norton
President, West Hempstead Civic Association

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Community Denied!

Town Board Snubs West Hempstead; Adopts Urban Renewal Plan Over Community Opposition
Hempstead town board move blocks sale of hotel


Dozens of West Hempstead residents left yesterday's town board meeting shocked and angry at a decision they say will delay for years the closing of the drug- and crime-ridden Courtesy Hotel.

"When will this end?" civic leader Rosalie Norton asked the board, to thunderous applause from the audience. "This board has subverted what is supposed to be a democracy. The plan is not in the community's best interest."

Town board members voted to adopt an urban renewal plan that would see the redevelopment of 10 acres, including the 2.7-acre Courtesy, after it takes the hotel and adjacent properties through condemnation. The plan includes part of a parking lot across the street owned by National Wholesale Liquidators.

By agreeing to pursue the more time-consuming urban renewal plan, the board essentially blocked a private sale between the hotel owner and a developer that could have shut down the hotel quicker.

Town officials said they considered residents' concerns in reaching its decision.

"We believe this is a more cohesive plan to beautify and revitalize 10 acres as opposed to just focusing on 2.7 acres," said Town Supervisor Kate Murray, a member of the board.

The owners of both the hotel and parking lot have already indicated they would sue the town to block the condemnation. The hotel owners say they have a contract with Texas-based Trammell Crow Residential to buy the hotel for $11 million to $13 million and build a four-story, 176-rental unit complex with underground parking. That would require zoning of 65 units per acre.

Town officials say that proposal is too dense. Their plan seeks 45 units per acre zoning.

Norton said that more than 2,100 residents have signed petitions urging the town board to accept Trammell Crow's plan.

A Trammel Crow representative said they were disappointed with the decision."Our proposal has consistently been the fastest way to rid the community of the woes associated with the Courtesy," said Maria Rigopoulos.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It All Comes Down To A Vote


The Town of Hempstead at their Town Board meeting on January 22, 2008 has on the decision calendar: The Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead -- a vote will be taken to determine if they will Adopt the plan.

If adopted, it will be ignoring thousands of West Hempstead residents.

The meeting will be held in the Bennett Pavilion, 1 Washington St., Hempstead, and starts at 10:30 AM. PLEASE TRY TO ATTEND....



Rosalie Norton
West Hempstead Civic Association

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hundreds Rally At Town Hall In Favor Of Trammell-Crow Plan

Town Of Hempstead Says, "Not So Fast!"

From the Three Village Times:

No Decision Yet on Courtesy Hotel
But Neighbors Support Trammell Crow Project
By Joe Rizza

Practically all the seats were filled, with some standing in the Nathan L. H. Bennett Pavilion at Hempstead Town Hall as the town board was scheduled to discuss the proposed Urban Renewal Plan (URP) for the area in West Hempstead that includes the controversial Courtesy Hotel.

Before the town board considered the URP, the board held a hearing a proposed zoning change as requested by Trammell Crow Residential, which would purchase the hotel property, demolish the hotel and build a luxury apartment community on the site.

The Trammell Crow plan is the one that is favored by many community leaders, including members of the West Hempstead Civic Association, since many feel it represents the surest and most expedient way to close the hotel. However, the Trammell Crow plan has been met with resistance by some town officials since it is feared that the Trammell Crow proposed apartment complex is too dense for the area and would create an adverse precedent in the town, opening the way for large developments that would threaten a suburban way of life.

Proponents of the Trammell Crow plan, however, argue that the complex isn't too dense for the commercial area that also includes such structures as a storage facility and National Wholesale Liquidators, would create much-needed housing and would expand the tax base to give the community much-needed tax relief. But perhaps the biggest upside to the plan is the elimination of the hotel.

While it has been reported that Trammell Crowe has an agreement to purchase the hotel, in order for the project to move forward, the Town of Hempstead would have to rezone the area from a business district to a residential district.

At Tuesday's hearing many community members voiced their support for Trammell Crowe's plan after the developer's associate Maria Rigopoulos made a presentation on the proposed redevelopment of the Courtesy Hotel site.

The Trammell Crow plan called for a 176-unit complex on the 2.71-acre site that would be built as a condominium complex but the units would be rented for prices ranging from $1,950 to $2,700 per month.

Although Rigopoulos said that density, which for the proposed plan calls for 65 units per acre, is a hot topic, density is not a bad thing if the building is properly designed and Trammell Crow has a wealth of experience is building complexes such as the one planned for West Hempstead.

Although representatives said their proposed building would be four stories high, according to the rendering that was shown at Tuesday's hearing, the building would have parking on the ground floor and four stories of apartment units above the parking for a total of five stories.
Currently, the highest density residential housing in the unincorporated areas of the Town of Hempstead is 45 units per acre of housing for the elderly and handicapped in Inwood.

However, representatives for Trammell Crow and some community members feel the Courtesy Hotel site presents a unique opportunity since it's near the West Hempstead train station and would not impact negatively on the entire town but positively on West Hempstead.

Resident Walter Enjes said he was initially concerned about the density of the Trammell Crow project but said he supports the project because it presents solutions to many problems.

Some community members also feel that if the town board elects to go the route of an urban renewal plan for the area, it may take years to close the Courtesy Hotel and cost the town thousands of dollars in eminent domain proceedings.

"Something needs to be done quickly," said one resident.

Scott Jablow of the Cathedral Gardens Civic Association brought up a rally to close the hotel on Mother's Day during which Town Supervisor Kate Murray promised to have the hotel closed by year's end. Jablow said that now is the opportunity for the supervisor to follow through on her promise.

"The only way you can keep your promise is to stop wasting our time and work with Trammell Crow," Jablow told Murray during the hearing.

West Hempstead School Superintendent John Hogan said that the board of education supports the Trammell Crow project and added that having the Courtesy Hotel, which has been the site of numerous police arrests, in the community could present a safety hazard to the children of the community.

Still, some believe the Trammell Crow proposal could negatively affect other parts of the town.

In a letter to Supervisor Murray and the Hempstead Town Board, Robert J. Zafonte, president of the East Meadow Civic Association, stated he is opposed to the Trammell Crow project. "The structure is overwhelming in nature. Just to be clear, height and density are enemies of suburbia. Approving the Trammell Crow proposal would lead to similar proposals to build in our township," he stated in the letter.

However, there are other municipalities that are considering housing units. The Village of Mineola, for instance, is considering a 285-unit condominium complex that is nine stories high for Old Country Road. The reason the village is considering it is because it is proposed for an area that is not expected to impact the residential community and would expand the community's tax base. The Mineola plan includes condominium units that would be purchased by the buyer as opposed to rented.

Some in West Hempstead would argue that the Trammell Crow proposal would have more of a positive impact on the neighborhood than the Courtesy Hotel.

The Hempstead Town Board reserved decisions on whether to rezone the area to residential to accommodate the Trammell Crow project and whether to adopt the urban renewal plan. If the town rejects the rezoning bid by Trammell Crow, that would pave the way for the adoption of the urban renewal plan.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

After 7 1/2 Hours At Town Hall. . .

Town Board Reserves Decision On Fate Of The Courtesy

Stay tuned. . .

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mark Your Calendars ~ Tuesday, December 11, 10:30 AM

Town Of Hempstead Board Meeting
Meeting Pavilion
1 Washington Street
Hempstead, New York
- - -
27327 Petition of WEST HEMPSTEAD DEVELOPMENT, LLC, to rezonefrom "Business X" District to "Residence [CA-S]" District - WEST HEMPSTEAD - s/si Hempstead Ave., e/of Woodfield Rd.

18675 ADJOURNED PUBLIC HEARING: Proposed Adoption of theUrban Renewal Plan for the West Hempstead Study Area - WEST HEMPSTEAD - TOWN OF HEMPSTEAD (Pursuant to Sec. 505 ofthe General Municipal Law)

Item 27327 is the Trammell-Crow proposal.

Item 18675 is the Town's proposed Urban Renewal Plan.


IN FAVOR OF 27327 (Trammell-Crow); OPPOSED TO 18675 (Urban Renewal Plan)

Please alert your friends and neighbors, and come on down to Town Hall! [If you wish to be heard by the Town Board, please note that each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes.]

Questions? Call the West Hempstead Civic Association: 516-733-0879

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December 11th Is D-Day At Town Hall

Will Supervisor Murray And The Town Board Vote In Favor Of Community?

Come out and see for yourself!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 10:30 AM
Town Meeting Pavilion
1 Washington Street
Hempstead, New York

Exactly what is at stake, and what proposals are on the table?

Read on:

From the West Hempstead Civic Association:

On December 11 at 10:30 a.m., at the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion at One Washington Street,
Hempstead, the Town of Hempstead Town Board will hold a public hearing on the fate of the Courtesy Hotel site and the surrounding area and then vote to approve or disapprove the proposed Urban Renewal Plan developed by the Town’s Department of Planning and Economic Development.

Virtually every West Hempstead organization is publicly supporting the Trammell Crow Residential Apartment Complex and the 65 units per acre – and are opposing the Town of Hempstead’s Urban Renewal Plan for our community. This includes: WH Board of Education • WH Education Association (teachers union) • WH Chamber of Commerce • Cathedral Gardens Civic Association • Friends of the Library • WH Lions Club • WH Kiwanis Club • WH Soccer chiefs • WH Historical Society • WH Community Scholarship Fund • WH Civic Association

The URP includes the development of the Courtesy Hotel and a number of surrounding properties. These additional parcels include the OK Deli/Petroleum property, a strip of National Wholesale Liquidator’s (NWL) parking lot, a portion of the NWL parking lot across from the LIRR Station (East of Broad St.), and the AVF Carting property on the East side of the LIRR station. As part of the URP, the Town will seize these properties through eminent domain.

The URP is lacking in many key specifics including the following:
1) The plan was created with almost no input from West Hempstead residents and businesses
and does not address the needs of the West Hempstead community and is short sighted.
2) The Town’s plan has been full of misrepresentations and blunders. The Town continually
promotes the URP to the public as a 10 acre project. However, only about 6.19 acres will be
available for development due to the following:
a. The LIRR right of way just west of the Courtesy Hotel cannot be developed.
b. The original plan called for the use of a substantial portion of Wholesale Liquidators’ parking
lot and the “municipal” parking lot east of Broad Street. However, during the final stage of the
plan’s development, the Town realized that seizure of the lot would place Liquidators in violation of the current zoning requirements for parking. The Town also discovered that the “municipal” parking lot is not Town property but that it is privately owned. The current owner has allowed LIRR commuters to utilize the lot. The three parties who own or lease the parking fields have publicly stated on the record that they will sue if the Town attempts to take any of the parking fields away through eminent domain.
3) Of the 6.19 acres available for development, 4.23 acres are currently under contract for private sale and include the properties below:
a. This includes the Courtesy Hotel, which is in contract to Trammel Crow Residential, who is proposing to build a market rate apartments targeted to young professionals and “empty nesters”.
b. A second parcel, the AVF Carting property on Hempstead Garden’s Drive on the east side of
the LIRR station, has been sold to a developer who plans to build senior citizen housing. These private sales would eliminate the two largest problems in the area and would render the need for the URP useless. If the Town Board votes “No” on the URP and allows for the necessary rezoning, the Courtesy and AVF Carting would close immediately. If the URP goes forward, the owners of these properties have promised to sue, which will likely enable them to remain open for years.
4) The Town has identified four potential developers to bid on this project if the URP is approved. These developers have submitted preliminary plans for a ten acre development, even though the actual size of the site will be close to forty percent less. These proposals, outlined in the URP, were used to determine density options as well as other important factors in the URP.
If the URP is approved, the actual projects will likely be considerably different than what the developers initially submitted based on the reduced size of the property (approx. 6.19 acres). As a result, the community has little specifics as to what the actual development might be.
5) The URP calls for the development of mixed use retail and housing. However, it fails to provide an adequate solution for all of the existing empty buildings or failing retail businesses in
the area.
6) Of the four developers being considered by the Town, only one, Trammell Crow, has met with the community and their plan most accurately reflects the community’s desires. The remaining three developers submitted plans that will provide a mixed use of retail and residential, including housing above stores, and multifamily homes. These proposals do not improve our community. Local real estate professionals have expressed concern that homes will be difficult to sell at this location. None of the three developers have given specifics as to density, square footage or estimates as to the cost of the land.
7) The environmental impact assessment, conducted by the Town, considered a range of housing densities, including up to eighty units per acre. According to the environmental impact
assessment, a density of eighty units per acre would result in greater positive impacts on tax revenues, additional housing opportunities and job opportunities. The URP states that the following:
a. Eighty units per acre would give our school district up to $280,000 more than the Town’s preferred density of 45 units/acre.
b. Eighty units per acre would have NO negative environmental impacts or traffic impacts. The environmental impact assessment gave no reason for the Town to reject the higher density option other than to state “at 80 units per acre, the land use policy implications of this density would have to be carefully reviewed for potential Town-wide repercussions.” The Town has made this major determination for West Hempstead without actually conducting the review of potential Town-wide “repercussions” and only recommends a density of 45 units per acre.
8) The URP proposes that the AVF Carting site be converted to a parking lot. As a current business, the property generates tax revenue for our community. If the URP is approved, the likely use of this property would be a parking lot, resulting in a LOSS OF CURRENT TAX REVENUE.
9) Because public money (i.e. taxpayer dollars) was used to develop the Town’s URP, the Town will be responsible for relocating the Courtesy and AVF Carting, likely leading to more lawsuits
and taxpayer costs as other communities fight to prevent these businesses from operating in their neighborhood.
10) The values of the properties have not been publicly disclosed. If the current owners do not accept the appraised values, the issue will go to the courts and could take years to litigate. Without knowledge of the value, it is impossible for developers bidding on the URP to determine
what they need to build in order to generate a profit. Given the low density proposed by the Town of Hempstead, the developer may have to cut quality or possibly walk away from the project.
11) All School, County and Town taxes cease to be paid once the properties are acquired by
the Town under eminent domain.

The goal to redevelop this area of West Hempstead is a good one. However the URP is not the most effective or beneficial way to accomplish this.

In early 2006, Trammel Crow Residential (TCR), one of the country’s largest and most reputable developers of residential housing, entered into a contract with the owner of the Courtesy Hotel to purchase the property. The original plan proposed a mix of 220 one, two and three bedroom luxury apartments. In order to build the apartments, TCR filed the required paperwork with the Town to obtain the proper zoning variances in December 2006. The Town has yet to take any action on TCR’s application.

Local municipalities in “first ring” suburbs throughout the country have begun to embrace the idea of transit oriented development, which places higher density housing near public transportation hubs. This has resulted in local revitalization, increased tax revenue generation, and managed population growth with little environmental impact.

TCR selected the site due to its proximity to the LIRR station and the many bus routes located directly in front of the Courtesy Hotel. TCR has extensively researched the site as well as the market for rental housing on Long Island in general.

After TCR announced their planned purchase, they immediately reached out to community groups, including the WH Civic Association, Cathedral Gardens Civic Association and the WH Chamber of Commerce. They also attended community meetings, solicited feedback from residents on their project, and incorporated some of those elements into their design.

1) This is a private sale that would close the Courtesy Hotel once and for all.
2) TCR will continue to pay all taxes while the property is being developed.
3) The original design proposed 220 units at eighty units per acre. At the Town’s request for a lower density, TCR has compromised with a new proposal based on 176 units total at sixty-five units per acre.
4) TCR will build their development according to the Town’s more stringent code reserved for condominiums. This will allow TCR to convert the apartments into condominiums once market conditions are more favorable.
5) The sale and project development will be completely financed through private funding. No public money (i.e. taxpayer dollars) will be used.
6) TCR will require complete background and credit checks of all renters which will include an income and asset check. This is standard procedure with all TCR rental properties.
7) The sale of the Courtesy to TCR at the proposed density will guarantee a greater tax benefit for West Hempstead and our school district.
8) Although TCR will be offering a limited number of three bedroom apartments (15%), statistics at other TCR rental properties and a study of similar properties in the region recently conducted by Rutgers University show that fewer school aged children reside in these types of rental apartments than those residing in privately owned homes. Tenants will likely be young
professionals, young couples not able to afford a house or ready to buy a house, and “empty nesters”.
9) The TCR proposal calls for a four story building (down from five stories in the original proposal). The development would include underground parking lot for the tenants.
10) As per community requests, the complex will have on open architecture and green space to
beautify the area.

With the Courtesy gone as a result of a private sale to Trammel Crow, the Town of Hempstead should work closely with the community to develop a Vision for the revitalization and beautification of the entire surrounding area including Hempstead Turnpike and continuing south along Hempstead Avenue, areas missing from the Town’s current Urban Renewal Plan. This is considered Smart Growth and should include community input from day one.

Here’s What You Can Do:
􀂾 ATTEND THE MEETING on December 11 at 10:30 a.m
Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion (Adjacent to Town Hall)
One Washington Street, Hempstead

􀂾 Write or call your Councilperson on the Town Board and urge them to
VOTE NO on the URP.

􀂾 Urge them to VOTE YES on the Trammel Crow Residential plan.

Write to the following Town Board members:
Councilman Ed Ambrosino
Hempstead Town Hall
One Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550
(516) 489-5000

Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby
Hempstead Town Hall
One Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550

Councilman Jim Darcy
Hempstead Town Hall
One Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550
(516) 489-5000


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hell No, We Won't Go!

At The Courtesy, Only The Signs Have Changed

It all comes down to the December 11th vote of the Hempstead Town Board. [10:30 AM, Meeting Pavilion, 1 Washington Street, Hempstead.]

If the Town Board votes in favor of the Urban Renewal Plan (we'll call it the Murray Mistake, for lack of a better term), the Courtesy will close, ah, um, NEVER!

If the Town Board votes NO on the Urban Renewal Plan -- as civic groups and community organizations have been demanding -- and instead gives the nod to private developer, Trammell-Crow, the Courtesy will not only be closed within months, it will be razed to the ground and turned into a residential development we can all be proud of.

Let's make sure that what happens in Hempstead Town is in the best interests of the people in West Hempstead town.

Come out to the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, December 11th -- the same day the Town Board plans to vote itself, and Supervisor Murray, hefty pay raises -- and tell them, "Urban Renewal Plan NO ~ YES To Trammell-Crow!"

Can't make it to the December 11th Town Board meeting?

E-mail Kate Murray at and Councilman Ed Ambrosino at

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Welcome To Kate Murray's Hempstead Town!

Blight On Every Corner; A No-Tell Hotel In Every Community

Elmont's Parkway Inn As The New Courtesy?

From Newsday:

Elmont man nabbed after hotel room struggle with cops

A man carrying a loaded handgun tried to evade the police by climbing through an Elmont motel bathroom window, but after a struggle he was arrested Tuesday night on drug and weapons charges, Nassau police said.

The 11:40 p.m. arrest came after police officers noticed a suspicious car in the Parkway Motor Inn lot at 35 Plainfield Ave. in Elmont.

As the officers walked toward the car the driver, David Stanford, 27, of Elmont got out and ran into a motel room, the police said.

When Stanford climbed out the room's bathroom window, Fifth Precinct Police Officers Frank Diconza and Richard Muller were waiting for him.

Stanford fought with the officers when they tried to arrest him, but he was eventually handcuffed and taken into custody. During the struggle, Officer Diconza broke a bone in one of his hands, and he was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital where he was treated and released.

The officers found that Stanford was carrying a loaded 9-mm handgun and several small bags of marijuana, police said.

He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree assault, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and marijuana possession.

Stanford, of 39 Fallon Ave., was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.
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IMPORTANT REMINDER: Town of Hempstead Public Hearing on Tuesday, December 11 at 10:30 AM [Meeting Pavilion, 1 Washington Street, Hempstead].

Tell the Town Board to just say NO to the Urban Renewal Plan!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Mandate For Murray, Says West Hempstead Civic Prez

Norton Negates Murray's Misguided Muzzling Of Community's Will

The Needs of the Many...

After reading your article "Incumbents Win on Election Day," I am totally dismayed at Supervisor Kate Murray's statement saying that "I hope that those few residents that are perhaps skeptical about our plan will come into the fold and get excited as I am about our urban renewal plan."

Virtually every West Hempstead organization has come out to support the Trammell Crow Residential apartment complex and the 65 units per acre and oppose the Urban Renewal Plan. Among those organizations are: West Hempstead Board of Education, WH Education Association (teachers union), WH Chamber of Commerce, Cathedral Gardens Civic Association, WH Soccer Chiefs, WH Lions Club, WH Kiwanis Club, WH Historical Society, WH Community Scholarship Fund and the WH Civic Association. In addition, over 2400 letters and signed petitions have been delivered to Supervisor Murray, all in opposition to the Urban Renewal Plan and in support of the sale of the Courtesy to Trammell Crow and allowing 65 units per acre. In a community the size of West Hempstead, this certainly constitutes a vast majority of residents.

How then can Ms. Murray say only a few are skeptical?

Supervisor Murray constantly keeps saying there are 10 acres designated for redevelopment? This is misleading because 10 acres cannot be used for development. The Urban Renewal Plan clearly states that the full 10 acres cannot be utilized. Yet our supervisor continues to make reference to developing 10 acres in press releases and in quotes to the press.

There are many reasons why so many are opposed to the Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead. First and foremost, there isn't any clear plan. In addition, it effectively kills the private sale of the Courtesy to Trammell Crow Residential as well as the Rockefeller Group's planned senior citizen townhouses on the AVF Carting property; it also creates a situation where National Wholesale Liquidators would be in violation of existing town code resulting in reducing its value and threatening the existence of this business which pays over $1.2 million in taxes.

The owners of the four pieces of property within the plan have all said they would oppose the taking of their property under eminent domain. This will result in years of litigation costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and will result in the Courtesy remaining open for years if not possibly forever. What is downplayed by the town is the requirement under eminent domain to find a location to enable the owner of the Courtesy to relocate his business. In which community does the town intend to relocate the Courtesy?

Yes, Supervisor Murray was returned to office. But, that shouldn't be translated into having received a mandate from West Hempstead to continue to charge full steam ahead with an ill conceived plan for our community. Our politicians would better serve us if they remove their rose colored glasses, walk among us and take a realistic look at the mess the Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead creates.

Rosalie Norton
President, West Hempstead Civic Association

(Note: There is a copy of the Urban Renewal Plan and the Environmental Impact Study in the West Hempstead Public Library)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Town's Delay; Activists' Dismay; Courtesy To Stay?

Town Hearing on Urban Renewal Plan Now On For December 11th. Maybe.

They've rescheduled (again) the public hearing on the Town's Urban Renewal Plan. On again, off again, this time for Tuesday, December 11, 2007 (in case you were wondering which year) at 10:30 AM (when most of us are at work or otherwise unavailable).

Should we tell you to come out to the Bennett Meeting Pavilion behind Town Hall (1 Washington Street, Hempstead), as we've done -- and done, and done -- in the past, only to have you sent away, disappointed?

Or do we dare to not ask you to show up (again) and be heard (again), lest the "hearing" (but who's listening?) go forward without opposition, Murray having her "mandate" to give the thumbs up to a plan that will further delay the closure of the Courtesy (perhaps for years), and forever change (for the worse, we fear) the landscape of West Hempstead's eastern gateway?

Well, mark your calendars accordingly, and be prepared to stand and resist Murray's mauling of our community's plans to revitalize and re-energize a vital part of our hamlet that has been blighted by the Courtesy, and neglected by the Town.

Watch your local newspapers, for e-mails from the West Hempstead Civic Association, and this blog, for the latest on the never-ending saga of the Courtesy Hotel.

And do send an e-mail to the powers-that-be (or pretend to be) at Town Hall -- even if you have done so before -- demanding that the Courtesy be closed and demolished, with the sale of the property to private developer, Trammell-Crow, green-lighted by Hempstead Town.

Hey, it's your community. If you don't fight for it, who will?

Town stalls owners' try to unload seedy hotel
Wednesday, November 14th 2007, 4:00 AM

A seedy West Hempstead hotel seems to have more lives than a cat - even though everyone, including its owners, wants it closed.

A crucial town hearing that many hoped would nail the coffin shut on the Courtesy Hotel on Hempstead Ave. has been postponed until Dec. 11, dragging out an already protracted saga.

The town board may decide that day to delay its vote on the Courtesy's fate until January, and its decision could lead to an extended legal battle.

"The Courtesy should have been closed by the end of the year," said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association. "There's no way of understanding the reluctance to move forward."

The delays are tied to a feud between the town board and the Courtesy's owners, brothers Bruce and Richard Zwelsky.

The Zwelskys want to shutter the hotel, allegedly a hangout for prostitutes, and agreed last year to sell the land to apartment complex developer Trammell Crow Residential.

But the town government is seeking to prevent the sale. The Dec. 11 hearing centers on a plan that would condemn the Courtesy land and sell the property to a developer.

"It's more playing games and it's more delay," said Thomas Levin, a lawyer representing the Zwelsky brothers.

If the board votes to condemn the land - instead of letting the Zwelskys sell it to Trammell Crow - Levin said he expects to wage a legal battle, which some believe could drag on for months, if not years.

Levin said he couldn't predict when the hotel would close, given the town board's sluggish pace.
The hearing yesterday was canceled because two of seven town board members were absent, and the board needs a super-majority - a majority plus one - to approve the plan, said town spokesman Mike Deery.

Marshall Myers, the civic association's vice president, wondered whether the board delayed the vote in the hope that fewer residents would show up to protest.

"Once Thanksgiving hits, people's brains go into holiday mode," Myers said. "They don't want to hear it if it's anything besides being with family and shopping for Christmas."

© Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Murray Calls Victory A "Mandate," Then Adjourns Courtesy Hearing Without Date

West Hempsteaders Give Murray Their Okay, 60% to 40%; Murray Gives WHers The Finger

Oh, she gloated, all right.

As reported in the Three Village Times, Kate Murray sees her victory in Tuesday's election as a mandate for her misguided plans, and a rebuff to "the few" who have dared to criticize the error of her ways.

Of course, West Hempstead residents didn't help their cause, those who voted in numbers so small one could hear a pin drop at the polling place, giving Murray the thumbs up with 60% of the local vote.

Talk about none so blind, or so moved by a pretty smile and a whole mess of self-serving, taxpayer paid literature delivered to the mailbox.

"I'm certainly very grateful to our town residents' mandate. It's very humbling to see the overwhelming numbers that came in for all of us. I'm just delighted that I get a chance to serve the residents for another two years because this is a great job and I've loved every minute of it," the town supervisor said.

Murray also won in the West Hempstead region where she has been criticized for failing to close the controversial Courtesy Hotel. However, an urban renewal plan for the area is in the works.

"Clearly a vast majority thinks we're heading in the right direction and I'm excited about that," she said. "I hope that those few residents that are perhaps skeptical about our plan will come into the fold and get excited as I am about our urban renewal plan because I really think at the end of the day, developing not only the Courtesy site at 2.7 acres but doing those 10 acres in a cohesive fashion will really be the best solution for the West Hempstead community."

Murray then promptly went on to cancel the further hearing on the Town's highly-criticized Urban Renewal Plan, as scheduled for November 13th, setting no new date as the fate of the Courtesy, and a community's future, hangs precariously in the balance.

Ah, we have seen the enemy, and he is us. And Kate. But mainly us...

To badly paraphrase, those who would forsake representative government for a half-baked plan that stands revitalization on its head deserve the half-baked plan.

The rest of us -- even those who stayed at home on Election Day (shame on every one of you) -- deserve better!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

'Round-n-'Round We Go, Where We Stop, Only Kate Murray Knows

From Best Laid Plans To Worst, Town Balks While Community Squawks

The latest from the West Hempstead Civic Association:

Important Meeting of the Hempstead Town Board: Public Hearing on the Future of the Courtesy Hotel

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 10:30 a.m.
Bennett Pavillion, 1 Washington St. Hempstead


The West Hempstead Civic Association is urging all residents to attend this very important meeting. Call 733-0879 for further information.
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Send a Letter to the Town of Hempstead to Close the Courtesy Hotel

The WHCA has developed a letter to send to Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Edward Ambrosino urging them to expedite Trammel Crow's application for zoning variances which will allow them to buy the property and close the Courtesy for good by the end of the year.

Please fill out the form and let our elected officials know that we want action taken now.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

How Many More Photo Ops. . .

. . .Before The Courtesy Is Closed?
This one was taken in 2005.

Any questions?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why Is This Woman Smiling?

Certainly, The Good People Of West Hempstead Are Not!

Kate Murray, back in 2005, told the West Hempstead community that she would not rest until the Courtesy Hotel was closed.

Just last week, at a prayer rally in the wake of the rash of noose sightings, Kate Murray told the gathered that she would not sleep until the perpetrators had been apprehended and brought to justice.

For someone who would not rest and would not sleep, Kate Murray looks pretty darn good, doesn't she? We guess sleep deprivation agrees with her!

Anyway, its back to the drawing board -- or at least to the Town Board -- on Tuesday, November 13th (10:30 AM), when the Town once again takes up the proposed Urban Renewal Plan.

They say that the Town Board will "hear testimony" (which part of "close the Courtesy" don't they understand?) from the community on November 13th. Sure they'll hear, but will they listen?

Here's something Kate Murray and the members of the Hempstead Town Board WILL listen to: The sound of the lever being pulled in the voting booth on Tuesday, November 6th.

On Election Day, tell Kate Murray you've had enough; that we, as a community concerned about our future, will not rest until the Courtesy is closed and the property redeveloped.
- - -
By the way -- the photo appearing in this post was said to have appeared on a now defunct website of Murray supporters, Apparently, even the vagrants have given up on Kate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Storm the Bastille and demand that the Courtesy be sold now!"

Fighting Words From Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino

To my neighbors and friends in West Hempstead:

I am disappointed and disgusted at the lack of progress regarding the elimination of the Courtesy hotel. Never has a community so united been met with so much delay and obfuscation.

I have stood with you and by your side since my election in 2003. I have asked the Supervisor and my fellow town board members to condemn the hotel. I have submitted legislation to expand the town’s nuisance law to shut the doors of the Courtesy hotel. Finally, I introduced the concept of a private sale.

My efforts have not been embraced. Instead the town is trying a global urban renewal plan.

While I support long term planning and a global approach, I want the elimination of the Courtesy to serve as the cornerstone of the revitalization of West Hempstead.

Our vision of community renewal cannot begin while the Courtesy stands. Let's eliminate the Courtesy now, once and forever.

I will not rest until the Courtesy is torn down.

I stand with the community.

Once the Courtesy is torn down renewal will begin. We can then join together with the town and plan for the redevelopment of the region.

Let us come up with a plan that works. Not a plan that delays.

I share your disappointment, but I will not stop fighting.

Keep up the efforts. Don't give up.

Storm the Bastille and demand that the Courtesy be sold now!

I will help lead your charge.

Thank you.

Councilman Ed Ambrosino

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Murray Makes Mockery Of West Hempstead

Mock support by W. Hempstead hotel a slap at supervisor

Here's an endorsement no politician wants.

For the second time in a month, management at a seedy West Hempstead hotel unfurled a banner outside the building telling voters to support the Hempstead town supervisor - since she keeps the sleazy inn open.

"Reelect Kate Murray. We're Still Here Because She's Still There," read the red-white-and-blue sign that reappeared last week on the Courtesy Hotel, allegedly a hotbed of drug use and prostitution.

Richard Zwelsky, who co-owns the Hempstead Ave. hotel with his brother Bruce, said the siblings had no comment on why the banner returned just weeks after it was first hung on the Courtesy, then removed.

Murray also remained mum. "The supervisor isn't going to dignify the folks who put the sign up at the hotel, whoever did it, with any sort of response," said town spokesman Mike Deery.

The banner, while outwardly supportive of Murray, is backhanded praise for the town supervisor, who has been a thorn in the side of the Zwelsky brothers.

The brothers agreed to sell the hotel to an apartment complex developer last year - setting themselves up for a big payday - but the Hempstead town government, led by Murray, intervened and pursued an urban renewal plan for the area.

Murray, a Republican, is widely expected to defeat Democratic challenger Kevin Gorman in the Nov. 6 election, but her role in the Courtesy saga has added a twist to the campaign.

"Any criticism of the current Republican administration helps me out," Gorman said.

Residents argue the urban renewal process delays the hotel's closing. But even Murray's harshest critics feel the entire town board, not just its supervisor, should share in the blame.

"She's just one vote," said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association. "Since she's only one of seven votes, I'd like to say it really comes down to a question of, 'Do all the others agree with her?'"

Councilman Ed Ambrosino of West Hempstead said he hadn't spoken to Murray about the banner, but he doubted the sarcastic sign would affect the race.

"Kate Murray's very popular and she's going to win," he said. "I support the supervisor. I want the supervisor to win."

The town board is expected to discuss the renewal plan on Nov. 13. The developer who entered into a contract with the hotel owners remains in the running for the land.

"We really wish that banners weren't necessary, that we could just move ahead positively with the application," said Joseph Torg, a senior managing director with Trammell Crow Residential.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Former Civic President Blasts Murray On Failure To Close Courtesy Hotel

For a brief time in September, a banner hung from the tower of West Hempstead's notorious Courtesy Hotel. It read: "Re-Elect Kate Murray. We're Still Here Because She's Still There."

How true.

In 2003, an election year, Town Supervisor Kate Murray assured the community that the Courtesy would be closed. It wasn't.

In 2005, an election year, Town Supervisor Kate Murray again proclaimed that the Courtesy would be shuttered, and the property redeveloped. Nothing.

And here we are in October 2007, just weeks away from an election, with Town Supervisor Kate

Murray the only thing standing between the closure of the Courtesy and the revitalization of West Hempstead's eastern gateway.

Will there be an "October Surprise?" It is, after all, an election year.

As the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Fool us three times? Well, you figure it out.

Give the people what they want - high-end rental apartments in close proximity to the railroad, and what would become a re-energized "downtown" business district?

No. That would mean we have representative government at Hempstead Town Hall.

I can only surmise, given the temerity with which the supervisor has resisted the will and disregarded the well-being of this community, as to the ultimate fate of this part of our town.

I will say, with well-founded reason and history as a guide, the Courtesy won't close until Kate Murray goes!

Who are you voting for on November 6?

Seth D. Bykofsky

(The writer is a former president of the West Hempstead Civic Association.)
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We hear tell that the "re-Elect Kate Murray..." banner has once again risen over West Hempstead's Courtesy.
On Tuesday, November 6th, tell Kate Murray you've had enough!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Town Plods On With Pitiful Plans

Town Sets November 13 for Hearing on Urban Renewal Plan

The Town of Hempstead has set Tuesday, November 13 as the date for a hearing on the adoption of the town's urban renewal plan for West Hempstead.

The town's proceedings will begin at 10:30 AM in the Nathan L. H. Bennett Pavilion at Hempstead Town Hall.

The West Hempstead Civic Association and, it would appear, the majority of West Hempstead residents, oppose the Town's Urban Renewal Plan, favoring the Trammell-Crow proposal.

All West Hempstead residents are encouraged to attend the Town's Hearing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"X" Marks The Spot In West Hempstead

The Courtesy As "Business 'X'" In The "X" Zone

Planners back move to X out sleaze hotel

Thursday, October 4th 2007, 4:00 AM

For all the triple-X behavior that allegedly takes place in a seedy West Hempstead hotel, only one X made it into Nassau County documents that outline new ways to condemn and redevelop the area.

In commentary sent in August to Hempstead officials, the Nassau County Planning Department refers to the Courtesy Hotel on Hempstead Avenue as "Business X," and only briefly mentions that the "deteriorating" site has a hotel.

Executive Planning Commissioner Patricia Bourne, whose staff compiled the notes after reviewing the town board's proposed urban renewal plan, said county employees used "X" to stay consistent with Hempstead documents.

"It was a zoning code 'X' for a business category," Bourne said. "Every municipality has its own way of categorizing its codes."

The report marks the latest development in the long-running Courtesy saga.

The hotel's owner agreed to sell to developer Trammell Crow Residential last year, but the Hempstead government intervened and proposed an urban renewal plan for the area.

In its comments, the county Planning Department expressed support for the town's plan to replace the hotel and nearby parking lots - which it deemed "entirely inefficient uses of land" - with a row of townhouses and apartments above retail space.

The 11-page report also offers "refinement" of the town plan, such as creating a Broad St. greenway with wider sidewalks and tree plantings.

The Hempstead town board will discuss the urban renewal plan next month, but may delay a vote so it can better consider the county report and community concerns, said Hempstead Planning Commissioner Charles Theofan.

"We're considering everything, all of their suggestions, very seriously," Theofan said.

Locals are siding with Trammell Crow's proposal to demolish the hotel and put up an apartment complex. But they wonder whether the town is even listening to their plea.

"We feel almost like second-class citizens," said Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association, which opposes plans for a two-level parking garage and more retail in an area already struggling economically.
- - -
The Town of Hempstead not listening? Kate Murray couldn't care less? Nah. Must be our imaginations.

How about some letters to the editors of the local papers from the good people of West Hempstead expressing their concerns about the the Town's tactics?

Remember, the Courtesy is still here, because Kate Murray's still there!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Good Grief, Kate Murray!

Town Supervisor Moved Quickly To Take Down Banner

Not So Fast On Taking Down The Hotel

We have it on good information that when Kate Murray told Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino -- who represents West Hempstead -- to "get that sign down," Ambrosino quipped back words to the effect of, "How about we take down the sign, AND the hotel?"

Way to go, Ed.

Reportedly, Kate was not happy. Well, Kate, neither are we.

As the sign on the Courtesy read, "WE'RE STILL HERE, BECAUSE SHE'S STILL THERE!

Truer words were never spoken.
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From the Three Village Times:

Town Supervisor Takes Shot Over Hotel
Civic Leaders Still Want TownTo Allow Residential Development
By Joe Rizza

This banner found its way on the front of the Courtesy Hotel, but Supervisor Kate Murray has vowed to close the hotel.

A sign recently appeared on the front of the Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead, which read "Re-elect Kate Murray - We're Still Here Because She's Still There."

The sign, which was taken down, may have been a shot directed at the Hempstead Town supervisor who is running for re-election this November but Murray has pledged that she is trying to close the hotel.

The way the hotel will ultimately disappear from the West Hempstead map is what the town supervisor and civic leaders are disagreeing on. Murray prefers that the hotel property be part of the 10-acre urban renewal plan, which calls for the redevelopment of deteriorating and underutilized properties with residential and retail establishments, parking and open spaces.
However, some members of the West Hempstead Civic Association see the urban renewal plan as the town just spinning its wheels as the hotel remains open. Civic leaders prefer that the hotel property be sold to Trammell Crow Residential, which would build a luxury apartment complex on the site.

"This isn't an urban renewal plan. There's no plan there. It was something hastily slapped together," said Rosalie Norton, the president of the West Hempstead Civic Association.

Among some of the problems in the plan, according to Norton, is taking away parking spaces that currently exist on the 10-acre site. Norton also believes putting retail establishments would only add to the problem of empty storefronts in that area.

Some community members would prefer the hotel property be sold to Trammell Crow Residential, which would erect a 176-unit luxury apartment complex on the 2.7-acre site. The density would amount to 65 units per acre. However, some town officials believe that 65 units per acre is too dense. The town has set a precedent of 45 units per acre, which seems to be the limit as far as density of an apartment complex. Under the town's suggestion of 45 units per acre, a developer could build a 122-unit apartment complex on the site whereas Trammell Crow is proposing a 176-unit complex.

Community members such as Norton don't understand why the town would not allow the hotel property to be sold for another 54 units on the site. However, some believe that allowing even 65-units per acre would pave the way for denser residential developments that could threaten the suburban quality of life in the town. But those who are proponents of closing the hotel as soon as possible believe that the hotel threatens suburban quality of life and the town should pursue the quickest possible means to close the hotel.

Norton said she would attend Thursday's meeting of the Nassau County Planning Commission, although on Sept. 6, the planning commission adjourned the West Hempstead plan without a further date. If the planning commission rejects the urban renewal plan, the town board would need a super majority of five votes of the seven members of the board to pass it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Closing The Courtesy: Friend Or Foe

An Up Or Down Vote On Who Stands With The Community

Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray: FOE
Label Kate as "Public Enemy Number 1" on the Courtesy issue. She has fought the community every step of the way, seemingly doing all within her power to see that the Courtesy stays open -- or open long enough for her to hand it all to her favorite developer. The banner hanging on the tower of the Courtesy but for a day had it right: "We're still here because she's still there!"

Town of Hempstead Councilman, Ed Ambrosino: FRIEND
Although chided for playing the "Kate Murray and I" card way too often (the necessary evil of politics), Ed has, from Day One, stood side-by-side with the West Hempstead community on bringing closure to the era of the Courtesy. A supporter of "doing whatever it takes" to close the hotel (what it will take is the ouster of Kate Murray), as well as a proponent of the favored Trammel-Crow redevelopment plan, Ed Ambrosino has -- both behind the scenes and at public forums -- taken Supervisor Murray to task. [Insiders tell us of bitter exchanges between the two, and nearly fisticuffs, from time to time (watch Kate's left hook, Ed. She's said to carry some hefty punch).] Ed even proposed an Amended version of the Town's failed Nuisance Law, which would have enabled the Town to PADLOCK the Courtesy immediately. The legislation has languished for months in the Town Attorney's office. So, blame Kate for the malingering at Town Hall, not Ed Ambrosino. Ed may not have been able to close the doors to the Courtesy -- yet -- but at least he tries.

Nassau County Legislator, Vincent Muscarella: FOE
We suppose Vinnie is too busy "voting against the reassessment" to so much as say anything about the Courtesy. Gosh, you would think Vin would at least offer up some moral support. Nothing. Not even a single photo op (and he has quite a few, doesn't he?).

All those years when the County was placing ex-cons, sex offenders, and the indigent at the Courtesy, and Vin Muscarella not only wasn't doing a darn thing about it, he was steadfastly denying it. Sure, closure of the Courtesy is primarily a Town matter, but Vin, why add fuel to the fire?

You would think, at least a public show of support, a press release, a quote -- other than "Tom Suozzi should do his job" -- something! After all, Vin does still live in West Hempstead -- doesn't he? Well, you wouldn't know it. The silence is killing our community, Vinnie. Don't just sit there like a potted plant, say something!

NYS Assemblyman, Tom Alfano: FRIEND
Tom is easily our community's best friend, and no fairweather friend is he. He's taken the battle with Kate "the Courtesy" Murray to the streets, and into every West Hempstead resident's home, trying to pressure the Town Supervisor to "do the right thing." Kate can't. Kate won't. If only Joe Mondello had given the nod to Tom Alfano back in 2003 when Kate was anointed as Supervisor. How different things would be in the Town of Hempstead.

NYS Senator, Dean Skelos: NEUTRAL
Sorry, Dean. There is no Switzerland in the war against blight. The police booth was an idea [not necessarily a good one, but at least it showed us you cared]. Certainly, the Dean of the New York State Senate, the head of Long Island's Senate Delegation, and, arguably, the 4th most powerful elected leader in New York, can do more than has been done to shutter and demolish the Courtesy. Dean's a good man. He's done quite a bit of good for the West Hempstead community. We need him to choose sides here, get off the fence, and bring out the big guns to end the Courtesy's reign of terror.

West Hempstead Civic Association President, Rosalie Norton: FRIEND
By golly, Rosalie. Where do you find the energy? You put the Energizer Bunny to shame! If only we had ten, twenty, one hundred more like her. Keep on fighting for us, Rosalie, and remember what Gandhi once said: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

So, you've sent e-mails, signed petitions, written letters, attended rallies, testified at Town Hall. Now what?

Like the sign says: WE'RE STILL HERE BECAUSE SHE'S STILL THERE! On November 6th, send a message to Kate Murray that we don't want her THERE anymore. Enough of the broken promises. Enough of the half-truths. Enough of the Courtesy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Courtesy Call For Kate's Campaign

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, How Many Votes Is This One Worth?

Do you think the Town of Hempstead will cite the Courtesy for putting up an "illegal sign?"

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Town Zoning Board To West Hempstead: "DROP DEAD!"

Zoning Board, Over Community Protest, Approves Urban Renewal Plan

The protests of community leaders notwithstanding -- and despite the submission of more than 2000 letters, e-mails, and Petition signatures calling for alternate relief -- the Town of Hempstead's Zoning Board of Appeals approved the much maligned Urban Renewal Plan as promulgated by the Town's Department of Economic Development.

From Newsday:

HEMPSTEAD: Town gets closer to condemning hotel

Today, Hempstead town will be one step closer to condemning the controversial Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead when its planning board adopts an urban renewal plan for the blighted 10-acre area, which includes the hotel, several businesses and their parking lots.

Gerald Wright, the board's chairman, announced last night that the panel would pass a resolution adopting the plan.

The next step for the plan is a Sept. 20 review by the Nassau County Planning Commission.
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"One step closer to condemning the Courtesy?"

Maybe so, but certainly no closer to closing the hotel, tearing it down, and revitalizing the eastern gateway to this suburban community in accord with the wishes of the good people of West Hempstead.

The Town of Hempstead, in effect, has told the citizens it is obligated to serve to "drop dead."

Hopefully, West Hempstead residents will feel similarly inclined to say the same -- politically speaking -- to Town Supervisor, Kate Murray, on November 6th, Election Day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Town Zoning Board/Planning Board Set To Vote September 5th

Expected To Approve Plan No One Wants; County Planning Commish To Take Second Look On September 20th

From the New York Daily News:

Under-fire hotel's fate goes to vote

A Sept. 20 vote by Nassau officials could determine the fate of a seedy West Hempstead hotel that residents have long blasted for allegedly catering to drug addicts and prostitutes.

The owner of the Courtesy Hotel agreed to sell to a developer last year, but the Hempstead Town government intervened and pursued an urban renewal plan for the area.

The plan, which calls for condemning the land so the town can receive profits from a sale, faces review at meetings by the town planning board tomorrow and the Nassau County Planning Commission on Sept. 20.

Members of the West Hempstead Civic Association hope the board and commission reject the plan and honor a contract signed last year by the Courtesy's owners and developer Trammell Crow, which wants to demolish the hotel in favor of an apartment complex.

"Logic and reason is not really being followed," said civic association President Rosalie Norton. "It's not logical to turn away this sort of development when it's so wholeheartedly supported by the community."

The town planning board is expected to approve the urban renewal plan tomorrow. Members may instead give only qualified approval, or outright reject it.

Then, on Sept. 20, the plan goes before the County Planning Commission. If the commission rejects the plan, the town board could adopt it only with a "supermajority" of votes - support from five of seven board members.

Charles Theofan, the Hempstead planning commissioner, said he expects the commission to approve the plan and would be "extremely surprised" if the supermajority scenario plays out. But the possibility remains intriguing.

Councilman Ed Ambrosino, who represents West Hempstead and has expressed support for the Trammell Crow plan, said he had no idea how the board would vote in a supermajority.

He wouldn't discuss his vote, though he stressed he is willing to consider any plan that closes the Courtesy "as soon as possible."

If the board adopts the plan, the town will likely face a courtroom battle with Thomas Levin, the lawyer representing the Courtesy.

"They want to do this their way, even if it takes a lot longer and costs them a lot more money," Levin said, adding the Courtesy would stay open for "quite a while" if the plan is adopted.

Trammell Crow representative Joseph Torg did not return calls seeking comment.

Friday, August 31, 2007

It seemed like a good idea at the time

When a plan is not a plan

From the Three Village Times:

Trammell Crow seems determined to purchase the property the Courtesy Hotel is on so much so that the developer is willing to reduce the number of residential units in the complex it has planned for the site.

The West Hempstead Urban Renewal Plan zone. Key: Parcel A = Courtesy Hotel Property Parcel B = LIRR Right-of-Way Parcel C = Light Industrial Properties, Public/Commuter Parking Parcel D = Portions of Public/Commercial Parking Parcel E = Portions of Public/Commercial Parking

The saga that is the Courtesy Hotel in West Hempstead has elicited passion from the West Hempstead Civic Association, which, for years, has been lobbying the town to close the hotel, which has been considered a scourge on the community. Now, civic leaders see an end in site as real estate developer Trammell Crow is willing to purchase the property with the purpose of erecting a residential apartment complex on the 2.7-acre site, known in the proposed Town of Hempstead Urban Renewal Plan for the area as Parcel A.

Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association, appeared at a continuation of the Town of Hempstead Planning Board on last Thursday concerning the 10-acre piece of property that is included in the town's urban renewal plan. Norton expressed concerns over the urban renewal plan and believes it should have been discussed more thoroughly with the community.

The town's urban renewal plan for the 10 acres of West Hempstead that includes the Courtesy Hotel property, which is known as Parcel A.

The urban renewal plan seeks to develop the area with residential (multiple-family and townhouses), neighborhood retail, parking and open spaces that are appropriate for a location adjacent to a commuter railroad station.

Norton, who said (s)he is a community advocate, not activist, believes that the town's urban renewal plan for the area doesn't necessarily include a plan.

The Urban Renewal Plan for the West Hempstead Urban Renewal Area is an eight-page document that identifies five parcels of land within the 10-acre area.
Parcel A - Southside of Hempstead Avenue - the Courtesy Hotel Property - 2.73 acres.
Parcel B - West of Parcel A - LIRR right-of-way - 0.96 acres.
Parcel C - East of Parcel A - Portion of light industrial properties along the west side of Hempstead Gardens Drive.
Parcel D - North side of Hempstead Avenue between Westminster Road and Broad Street - Portions of the parking areas north of Hempstead Avenue.
Parcel E - North of Hempstead Avenue, between Broad Street and Hempstead Gardens Drive -

Portions of the parking areas north of Hempstead Avenue.

According to the urban renewal plan, the proposed action involves redevelopment of these sites to contain a mix of uses such as residential homes, neighborhood retail, parking and open spaces.
The plan calls for multiple-family residential for Parcel A and townhouses for portions of Parcels D and E; ground-floor, neighborhood retail is proposed for Parcels D and E; public parking is proposed for Parcel C and Parcel B is proposed to be open space.

For civic leaders and community members, the number one priority is closing the Courtesy Hotel. This is a priority shared by town officials. The environmental assessment report on the urban renewal plan as submitted by the Town of Hempstead Town Board states, "Removal of the existing Courtesy Hotel, a major blighting factor in the area, is considered to be a significant beneficial impact of the Urban Renewal Plan."

There is some disagreement about whether the Urban Renewal Plan is the best way to go about closing the Courtesty Hotel. One problem that exists with the Urban Renewal Plan is the possibility of having to take property identified in the plan through eminent domain. According to the plan, "To achieve the development envisioned in this plan, a program of acquisition and demolition will be undertaken by the Town of Hempstead Department of Planning and Economic Development which will dispose of such properties for redevelopment in accordance with the plan."

Some community members would prefer that the Courtesy be closed through the purchase of the property by Trammell Crow Residential, which would build a 220-unit apartment complex on the 2.7-acre site with a density of 80 units per acre.

This is the direction the West Hempstead Civic Association would prefer. However, the environmental assessment report on the urban renewal plan points out that changing the zoning to allow for 80 units per acre "would have to be carefully reviewed for potential townwide repercussions."

The town seems willing to allow 45 units per acre, which is the highest density permitted in any zoning district in the town. However, it doesn't seem Trammell Crow is willing to adhere to this determination.

At last week's planning board hearing, attorney Al D'Agostino, who represents Trammell Crow, said his client has agreed to reduce the proposal from 220 units per acre to 176 units, although D'Agostino did not know whether the five-story height of the original proposal would be reduced. However, that proposal still calls for 65 units per acre, which is more than the 45 is willing to allow.

In addition to Trammell Crow, there is also a proposal by Jim Rockefeller of Rockefeller Development to purchase Parcel C and build a 50-unit senior citizen housing complex on the property.

With two developers lined up to develop the Courtesy Hotel and the area east of it, some may wonder whether this may be a better way to go. Until then, the saga that is the Courtesy Hotel keeps on going.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Letters from West Hempstead

Civic Association Urges Letter Writing Campaign

From Rosalie Norton, President, West Hempstead Civic Association:


The Nassau County Planning Commission specifically requested that WH residents write letters regarding the Town's Urban Renewal Plan.

· If the TOH's Plan goes through with 45 units per acre, Trammell Crow Residential will not be able to purchase the property, we lose big tax revenue, and take a major step backwards in getting the Courtesy closed!!!!

· Tell Nassau County that you support higher density and oppose the TOH’s Urban Renewal Plan for West Hempstead.

· Send letters to: Nassau County Planning Commission
400 County Seat Drive
Mineola, New York 11501
Attention: Jeffrey Greenfield, Chairman
Michael A. Bellissimo, First Vice Chairman
Neal Lewis, Second Vice Chairman

· Please send a copy to the WHCA, PO Box 425, West Hempstead, NY 11552

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Trammell Crow has REDUCED the number of apartments to 176 which is 65 units per acre.

With fewer units and parking spaces the building size will most likely be reduced.

Ideas You Might Include In Your Letter --

1.You want the Town to negotiate with TCR to enable the private sale to take place.

2. You are opposed to the Town's Urban Renewal Plan for WH because the density being proposed for Parcel A - the Courtesy Hotel site is too low.

How has the Town determined that 45 units per acre will be economically feasible, without sacrificing quality?

The TOH should make public the value they have placed on each of the parcels to enable the public and the Nassau County Planning Board to judge the merits of the Urban Renewal Plan
Additionally the proposal is short on specifics and relies on vague, undefined concepts.

3. You oppose single family, two family or townhouses on this commercial stretch of Hempstead Avenue, an inappropriate location for this type of housing. Our community rejected this area for a new library believing it to be unsuitable for children.

4. You oppose the property being acquired through eminent domain because:
· There is a private sale pending to purchase the Courtesy site
· You believe the sale to Trammell Crow Residential would result in the best use of the property with the greatest benefits to the community.
· It will take years to rid our community of the Courtesy Hotel this way.
· Under eminent domain the Town would take title to the property and the owner stops paying taxes. Who would pay the school taxes? And when?

5.The Nassau County Planning Board should recommend to the Town that the development producing the most positive economic benefits for West Hempstead should be the actionable choice. In the TOH’s own report they determined that greater density would yield maximum benefits.

6. You oppose the Urban Renewal Plan because it violates the TOH’s existing parking requirements for National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL) and would result in a substantial reduction in the taxes NWL pays; and, the plan does not provide the greatest tax benefits to our community.

7. We are opposed to a parking garage in the area.

8. We support beautification and landscaping of the parking fields north of Hempstead Ave.

9. The Urban Renewal Plan does not address the problem of empty stores on Hempstead Turnpike and Hempstead Avenue, yet it would ask developers to add additional retail stores.

How could additional retail stores create economic revitalization if the existing retail businesses are having difficulties?