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.