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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Reviving the Hub

“The new zoning passed this year [2011] by the Town of Hempstead will make it possible to build apartments, townhouses, and single family homes in the Hub without variances or lengthy environmental reviews. It allows for a mix of uses in the 77-acres including residential, commercial, office, institutional, and entertainment,” stated an October 2011 document called Accelerate Nassau Now, a 30-page white paper archived on the county executive’s governmental website.

Accelerate Nassau Now’s target audience was a narrow one: Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Regional Economic Development Council. And the white paper also touched on redevelopment proposals aimed at boosting Bethpage and Elmont, although I want to focus for now on Nassau’s Hub.

There may be private sector entitles willing and able to build a new Nassau Coliseum and a minor league baseball stadium at the Hub, along with residential and commercial properties, but the Mangano administration recognizes that county and state taxpayers may have to contribute something to induce private sector investment in the site. Growing the tax base occasionally requires investing in the recruitment of new taxpayers.

Three major infrastructure proposals, which would be publicly financed, are mentioned in Accelerate Nassau Now. Each of them may come to the fore soon after the Mangano administration issues a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from prospective Nassau Hub developers.

The first one has the potential to be controversial because multilevel parking garages traditionally draw loud criticism. The county’s October 2011 report envisions a structure which would house 6,000 vehicles and be built by the public sector on 10 of the Hub’s 77 acres. Such an undertaking would free up significant acreage that would otherwise be wasted on grade-level parking.

The second capital project would result in an engineering overhaul of the completely inadequate Meadowbrook Parkway/Hempstead Turnpike interchange, and the third calls for the creation of a transit link, such as an express bus network, to connect the Nassau Hub to LIRR stations in either Carle Place or Mineola. The latter proposal has circulated for years and may find support as traffic congestion worsens. When it comes to Nassau’s Hub, the status quo is unsustainable.a

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net