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.
- - -
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.
- - -
- - -
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.
- - -

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.)
- - -
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.
- - -
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.
- - -
"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?

Monday, August 27, 2007

From The Three Village Times:

Visions of Sugarplums

The Town of Hempstead envisions the redevelopment of the Courtesy and its surrounding blight far differently than most West Hempsteaders. Indeed, the town, through its Department of Economic Development and Zoning Board cum Planning Board, looks to remove blight in our community as one would take aim with an elephant gun to shoot a single, lowly mouse (Not that this wouldn't have been the way to go, with prudent planning, timely deployment, and proper implementation.)

As things now stand (aside from quite still), the town offers grand ideas, absolutely no workable plan, and the elephant gun isn't even loaded.

Nassau County, similarly taking aim, the big gun in the hands of the County Planning Commission, envisions a greenbelt on Broad Street, a two-story parking garage, and nominal building setbacks - not exactly what West Hempstead residents had in mind.

Truth be told, had the Courtesy been closed 10 years ago, or even three years ago as promised by Town Supervisor Kate Murray, the West Hempstead community might well have been amenable to alternative plans for the redevelopment, not only of the Courtesy site, but of the entire 10-acre parcel designated by the town as "blighted."

Behind the eight ball, with the Courtesy - the hottest crime spot in the 5th Precinct - still open for business, residents no longer have the breathing room, or the patience, to embrace Ms. Murray's broader "vision." That vision, best of intentions aside, has not played out in the unincorporated areas of the township beyond the occasional brick paver and Victorian-style street lamp - the façade that is passed off as "downtown" improvement being just that, a façade.
Yes, redevelop not only the Courtesy venue, but also the surrounding parcels, home to the likes of a waste transfer station and the seemingly abandoned MTA right-of-way. But first and foremost, close and demolish the Courtesy Hotel, the epicenter of blight at our hamlet's eastern gateway.

In rebuilding community, and revitalizing its infrastructure, one has to start somewhere, sometime. The time to start the wrecking ball swinging is now, and the place to start is at the front door to the Courtesy Hotel.

West Hempsteaders implore the County Planning Commission and the Town Zoning Board to act in our community's best interest and with all deliberate speed. And to Kate Murray we say, "Madam Supervisor, tear down that hotel!"

Seth D. Bykofsky
- - -
Mr. Bykofsky, a community advocate of longstanding, has been in the forefront of the fight to close the Courtesy Hotel and to revitalize the eastern gateway to West Hempstead since 1995. He is a past president of the West Hempstead Civic Association and a founder of The Community Alliance.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Town Zoning Board Continues Public Hearing On August 23

Still Clueless At Hempstead Town Hall

From the Malverne-West Hempstead Herald:

We shall meet again
By Matthew McGevna

After weeks of confusion surrounding the Town of Hempstead¹s draft urban renewal plan, the Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals is now apparently prepared to fulfill its alternate role as a planning commission, and vote to accept or reject the plan.

When West Hempstead residents gathered at a meeting of the BZA on July 11, they expected the board to vote on the urban renewal plan. Residents were under the impression that the BZA¹s approval, or rejection, of the document was a key component in the town¹s most recent attempt to seize ownership of 10.5 acres of land in West Hempstead and secure it for private development. Residents came to the meeting to express their views about the plan, their concerns and, for most, their desire to see the parcel of land where the Courtesy Hotel now stands developed by Trammel Crow Residential. Trammell Crow is currently in contract with the owner of the Courtesy, and has been waiting to be granted rezoning for the property.

But the draft urban renewal plan, a brainchild of the town's Department of Planning and Economic Development and the independent consulting firm Saccardi & Schiff, does not support the vision of Trammell Crow Residential, and if approved, it could instead disqualify the company from building what it wants. So residents filed into the July 11 meeting hoping to convince the BZA to reject the town's plan.

As the meeting progressed, however, it became clear to those in attendance that the BZA had no intention of approving or rejecting the plan, and board members continued to reiterate to residents that the board¹s only role was to determine whether or not the 10-acre area was blighted, and that ³something should be done about it.

Listeners began whispering to one another. Hadn't there already been a blight study approved by the town last May that made that determination? Attorneys for the hotel and the nearby National Wholesale Liquidators, whose property the plan includes, read a resolution drafted by the town board that charged the BZA to accept, reject or make recommendations to the plan.

Then, after numerous statements from residents, the matter was tabled for a later meeting, and the audience dispersed in confusion.

Now, apparently, the BZA is prepared to act as a planning board. A date has been set ‹ Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. ‹ to "clarify the jurisdiction" of the board, and to "take further testimony," according to a release.

The release states that after the July meeting, board members received a memo from the Department of Planning and Economic Development claiming that "there may have been some confusion as to the public's perception of the [Board of Zoning Appeals] jurisdiction and scope of review."

"I requested that they re-open the hearing just to clarify exactly what their scope of review is," Charles Theofan, commissioner of the DPED, said of the BZA. "It's not a new hearing, it's re-opening the old hearing. All the old testimony that's been taken is still on the record."

Theofan said he could not predict what the zoning board would do, but added that its members are expected to more fully understand the town board's resolution and clarify to the public what the BZA's role is.

West Hempstead Civic Association President Rosalie Norton said the confusion was not the public's. "The resolution that was passed by the town board said the [BZA] was supposed to review the urban renewal plan and make recommendations," Norton said. "We weren't confused, we were offering our suggestions for them to use in their recommendations."

The Nassau County Planning Board, meanwhile, released a report with its comments and recommendations regarding the urban renewal plan. Theofan said that while the town board is under no obligation to follow the county's recommendations, it would consider all of the comments.

"The Nassau Planning Commission was phenomenal," said Norton, who attended the Aug. 9 hearing that introduced the county's comments. "At the session they said, 'Get together with the community.' They understood the difficulty the community was having."

The West Hempstead Civic Association and other civic groups are opposed to the urban renewal plan because, among other things, it recommends only 45 units of residential housing per acre, far fewer than the 80 units per acre that Trammel Crow is planning for the land. Norton suggested that the town board get together with all the principal players and hammer out a deal. "We understand you don't want 80 [units]," she said in an interview, as if addressing the board, "but we don't want 45, so let's negotiate for something closer to 80, and I don't mean 79."

The Aug. 23 BZA meeting will take place in Town Hall's Bennett Pavilion.

Comments about this story? or (516) 569-4000 ext. 205.

©Herald Community 2007

"When will Fodor or Frommer give West Hempstead's short-stay Courtesy Hotel the negative stars it deserves? ... "

Excerpts from Newsday Columnist Ellis Henican's post of August 12. . .

...ASKED AND UNANSWERED: If no one looted the bingo pot at Coram's Suffolk Independent Living Organization, where did all the money go? The prize payouts aren't THAT huge ... Shouldn't Lisa Skowron Katz get the "Most Understanding Wife Ever" Award? The Sound Beach mom said OK to a light, 6-month sentence for her soon-to-be-ex husband, Gary, who tried to hire a hit man to kill her ... Should Paul McCartney get "Understanding Husband" prize? He's been graciously hosting the spitting-mad Heather Mills (and daughter Beatrice) at his Fresh Pond Road pad in Amagansett ... Who - or what - is killing the birds of Argyle Lake? Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino counts more than 20 dead ones so far ... And what about the fish in East Rockaway's Mill River? Experts are blaming oxygen depletion for that one ... If the waiter's not keeping the whole tip, shouldn't the diner be warned with the bill? Most customers just assume they're tipping the WAITER ... Is super-sized "mansion-ization" the official blight of the East End's gilded age? Some folks in "The Lanes" sure think so ... When will Fodor or Frommer give West Hempstead's short-stay Courtesy Hotel the negative stars it deserves? ... In a month, the Nassau and Suffolk district attorneys had no trouble pinching 219 illegal contractors? You think maybe, just maybe, there's something wrong with this licensing approach? ... Should 1-800-FLOWERS have to pay damages to cheating husband Leroy Greer, who sent roses to his girlfriend? The dial-in florist faxed the receipt - and the love note - to Leroy's wife ... Didn't the Nassau County Planning Commission forget something on the way to a new urban renewal plan for West Hempstead? Oh, right, the people ... After all the success he's had with his "Garage Sale America" book, does Bruce Littlefield ever just want to shop at Ikea? ... After all the Murdoch outrage at The Wall Street Journal, how many reporters and editors have resigned in protest? Not too many, huh? ... Now that Caroline Giuliani's a Facebook pal of Obama's, which Democratic kid is secretly rooting Republican? Show of hands, please...

Friday, August 17, 2007

"The Town has. . .dropped the ball" -- DUH!

From The Three Village Times:

All Eyes on the Courtesy
For West Hempstead Residents, Hotel Is Hot Issue
By Joe Rizza

As the campaigns heat up before Election Day in November, it's a safe bet that residents of West Hempstead will keep an eye on the Courtesy Hotel. Whether or not the hotel is closed or remains open could be seen by some as a testament to whether their local elected officials can get things done.

Former Town of Hempstead Councilman Scott Banks, who drafted the nuisance law in an effort to close the Courtesy Hotel in 2000, although he said the law that was eventually passed did not have enough teeth, lives in close proximity to the hotel. "Ultimately, I think the town has essentially dropped the ball on the issue," he said.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray wants to redevelop not only the Courtesy Hotel property but the area around the hotel through an urban renewal plan, which calls for a multiple-family, mixed residential and commercial parcel immediately adjacent to the railroad station, a row of townhouses along Hempstead Avenue, a parcel dedicated as open space and community railroad parking.

Following a press conference on a visionary process for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said what the town and the county are trying to achieve in Elmont is similar to what the town is trying to achieve in West Hempstead with the area around the hotel. "What we're saying is let's look at the community as a whole. Instead of just developing the Courtesy Hotel, 2.7 acres, let's do 10 acres. If you just develop the Courtesy, the effect is just much more diminished. It's very important to me to do these 10 acres," she said.

Some residents of West Hempstead who have been lobbying the town to close the hotel prefer that the town rezone the hotel property to allow for a residential complex of 80 units per acre to allow for the purchase of the hotel property by Trammell Crow Residential, which would erect a 220-unit apartment complex on the site. However, the town board seems only likely to permit a maximum of 45 units per acre.

Banks, who is running this November on the Democratic ticket against incumbent councilman Ed Ambrosino, is among those who believe the sale of the hotel to Trammell Crow represents the best chance to close the hotel. "It does create a situation where, if this sale goes through, it would get rid of the main blight on our community. I think there's where we need to go at this point in time," he said. "Something has to get done about this. It's the people in the community who really should have the voice here. We're forgetting that the residents who have to deal with this location each and every day, they're the ones who should say what's right for our community and not someone in town hall and not some planning commission."

The town is seeking to redevelop the land through an urban renewal plan that would allow for 45 units per acre for residential developments as opposed to the 80 units per acre Trammell Crow is seeking in order to buy the hotel. Town officials believe allowing 80 units per acre would set a precedent through the entire town that would allow for developments that are too dense.
Through the urban renewal process, the town will be considering proposals from Trammell Crow, Breslin Realty, the Sheldrake Organization and the Alvin Benjamin company for plans to redevelop the 10 acres of property.

"Right now, we have a horrible hotel and we have an empty parking lot. Quite frankly, we can only go up. We can only improve those 10 acres. I think at the end of the day, people are going to be very happy. That's my sincerest desire with regard to that urban renewal plan and I have every confidence that the community, when they see beautiful new residential and some great commercial areas, is going to say this is what we always wanted. This is what we always envisioned," Murray said.

Comments made by Ambrosino, a fellow Republican, suggest that he may not feel that the urban renewal plan is the fastest way to close the Courtesy. Ambrosino said he empathizes with the residents of the community and supports whatever is going to close the hotel the quickest.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Town Dumb, County Dumber

Nassau County Planning Commission Stands Reason, And Plans For Redevelopment, On Head

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

The County of Nassau, via its Planning Commission (where's Kat D'Amato when you need her?), has reviewed the Town of Hempstead's Urban Renewal Plan (for the little it was worth), critiqued same, and, with head up proverbial posteria, put forth a "plan" (if you could call it that) of its own.

One has to wonder whether this isn’t yet another instance of the blind (County) leading the blind (Town).

We have yet to “digest” the entire document, let alone to plot out the commission’s findings, juxtaposed against those of the Town, but certain features jump out as leaping from the ridiculous to the totally absurd:

1. Creation of a “greenbelt,” with “Broad Street as an aesthetically pleasing and safe connection to the LIRR West Hempstead Station. . .”

Broad Street “aesthetically pleasing?” Maybe we can plant trees atop the National Wholesale Liquidators trailers?

How about a shelter for the homeless amidst the “aesthetically pleasing” litter as strewn daily along the Hempstead Turnpike side of NWL?

Who’s walking from Hempstead Turnpike at its intersection with Broad Street to warrant such streetscaping?

And why Broad Street, of all locales? How about Westminster between the Turnpike and the Avenue?

2. The construction of a “two-story commuter parking deck.”

Now that would be lovely!

3. 10 foot setbacks are “excessive.”

And we thought they weren’t enough.

We suppose the best reading was the Commission’s recommendation that “Broad Street be the site of expansive streetscape improvements including, but mot limited to, tree plantings, pedestrian amenities, and crosswalk pavers.”


Somebody please wake us up. This nightmare grows more horrific by the hour!

We say, back to the drawing board for everyone, and pray for the closure of the Courtesy by the year 2025. Or, somebody dust off the Trammell-Crow plan, and get serious about the redevelopment of this gateway to West Hempstead in our lifetime.

Bring on the bulldozers!

P.S. Has the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals decided whether we in West Hempstead are “blighted” yet? And whose blight is it, anyway?
- - -
Rosalie Norton, President of the West Hempstead Civic Association, spoke before the Nassau Planning Commission on August 9th, decrying the Town's Urban Renewal Plan, and asking the Planning Commission to take yet another look.

Among the proposals suggested by Ms. Norton were the rejection of the following:

1. parking garage;

2. single, two family homes, and town houses except on Parcel C and only for seniors;

3. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning with a 1/4 mile radius.

At the same time, Ms. Norton asked for the NC Planning Commission to support:

1. density closer to 80 rather than 45 units for Courtesy property;

2. TOD density only in a tightly confined area in parcels A & C, establishing a distance from any residential homes;

3. 5 story building with covered structured parking under the building with no surface parking allowed for residents;

4. At least 15 foot minimum set backs for apartments, and more for townhouses;

5. Repaving and beautification of parking fields and sidewalks on north side of Hempstead Avenue;

6. Facade improvements for existing buildings. on Hempstead Turnpike and Hempstead Avenue;

7. No further retail businesses being built until a study is done to determine why existing businesses are failing, and addressing how to attract businesses to the area.

Ms. Norton delivered to the Planning Commission copies of the more than 2100 letters and petitions, as previously delivered to Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.

The Civic Association has asked that the Town work to enable the private sale to eliminate "50% of the blight," and allow the sector to do what it does best when it works in cooperation with the community and the Town.

The Commissioners set a date of September 20 for a continued hearing, and has asked the Town of Hempstead to work with the community to develop a plan which reflects the concerns and wishes of the community.

Yeah, right!

Meanwhile, the Courtesy Hotel remains open. The Blight fluorishes in our front yard. And both Town and County whistle in the wind while sticking out their tongues to the West Hempstead community.
- - -
From the pages of Newsday:

Planning commission postpones decision on West Hempstead plan

Acknowledging residents' complaints that a West Hempstead urban renewal plan and rezoning proposal was crafted without sufficient community input, the Nassau County Planning Commission Thursday postponed a decision on the proposals for 30 days.

The nine-member commission -- which has the final say on zoning actions by local governments -- won't decide on the controversial proposals until Sept. 20 so it can review further public comment. It also urged Hempstead officials to communicate further with residents about their concerns.

Charles Theofan, the commissioner of Hempstead's Department of Planning and Economic Development, said that although "there has been a tremendous amount of dialogue so far, I hear what they are saying and the dialogue will continue."

The more than 50 residents who showed up at the midmorning Planning Commission meeting at the county office in Mineola burst into loud applause after Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Civic Association, gave her presentation.

"The community has spoken, but they are not taking any of the things we think are important and incorporating them into their plan," Norton said after the meeting.

She delivered a 2,100-signature petition to the commission supporting redevelopment plans by Trammell Crow Residential.

The proposal for the Urban Renewal Plan, a 10-acre site in West Hempstead, consists of the Long Island Rail Road station and five surrounding properties, including the controversial Courtesy Hotel.

Civic leaders have long campaigned to close down the hotel, which has been in operation since the mid-1960s and specializes in short stays and hourly rates. It attracts transients and has been the site of numerous crimes, police and civics say.

Trammell Crow is in contract to purchase the hotel and has floated a proposal to build a five-story, 220-unit rental apartment complex with underground parking, a landscaped courtyard and a swimming pool. Trammell Crow's proposal calls for zoning of 80 units per acre.

Theofan said the highest density the town permits is 30 units per acre."Under the concept of smart growth, we are taking a leap forward in that the urban renewal project has a train station in it and we are looking to zone the area 45 units per acre," Theofan said. "Above that, the feeling in the town is that anything more would set a bad precedent."

The civic association is supporting the Trammell Crow proposal, Theofan contends, "because they see it as the quickest means to an end -- the final demise of the Courtesy Hotel."

But Norton said the town has not recognized the need within the community and on Long Island for housing the younger generation can afford.

"We are supporting the plan to get rid of the Courtesy, not because the property is blighted but because it's a great plan," she said. "We want what's best for our community."

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.