We Shall Not Stand Idly By
The longstanding sentiment in the West Hempstead community has been to permit the forces of private enterprise and the marketplace to prevail, while keeping the intervention of government at a minimum.
At the same time, the Long Island Index released a study that revealed a majority of Long Islanders in favor of increased housing density in and around "downtown" business districts, as well as the creation of additional rental units, thus easing the affordable housing crunch.
Unfortunately, the voices of reason, smart-growth advocates, and community collectively fell upon deaf ears at Hempstead Town Hall, as members of the Town Board, blindly following the lead of Supervisor Kate Murray as she meanders down that road of suburban blight, voted to adopt the ill-conceived and community-opposed Urban Renewal Plan.
In so doing, the town nixed the Trammell-Crow proposal to build upscale rental apartments on the Courtesy Hotel site, citing its objection to density, and rebuffed the pleas of a community to boldly move forward, not only with the revitalization of its eastern gateway, but with a smart growth initiative that could well serve as a model for the new - and sustainable - suburbia.
In taking a staunch and unyielding position, contrary to both the conventional wisdom on fashioning livable suburbs, and to the will of the community they were elected to serve, Kate Murray and the Hempstead Town Board stood modern precepts of suburban revitalization on head, and negated the very hallmark of representative government - a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The latest skirmish before the Town Board may have dealt a blow to our hamlet's, if not the township's, efforts to rebuild and rejuvenate, but as anyone who has been joined in this battle to take back our town (now going on 13 long years) will tell you, we, as a community, and as the guardians of this hamlet's tomorrows, shall not stand idly by as Kate Murray and company hold hostage our town's future.
The fight will go on, in the trenches along the avenue, at Town Hall, and in the press, for we dare not surrender to those who would usurp local control and undermine the wishes of the governed, under the guise of telling us what is best for our own community.
Seth D. Bykofsky
(The writer is the former president of the West Hempstead Civic Association.)