At the last meeting of the year, the Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, Richard Guardino, took a moment to thank the three board members who would not be returning in January, including Gary Hudes of Levittown and Linda Reed of Wantagh.
The three board members who were not re-elected in November, Hudes, Reed and Robert Barra, were met with a standing ovation by Town employees as Guardino said, "Let me just thank Linda, Bob, and Gary for the terrific work they've done here in the Town of Hempstead. We're grateful for your tireless efforts. I know you're going to be successful in what ever you take on."
Hudes and Reed, while known for their service throughout the Town of Hempstead, have gained much recognition in the Levittown, Wantagh, Seaford, and East Meadow communities, for the work they have done to improve those areas.
Some of Hudes' accomplishments in the five months since he was appointed to the town board include helping to prevent a truck entrance for Target on Wantagh Avenue, which would have been a danger to the Island Trees students who have to walk that path in order to get back and forth to school; working with other town and state officials to scale down a proposal which would have expanded part of Hempstead Turnpike to nine lanes; and working on the revitalization of Hempstead Turnpike which is scheduled to begin in the spring.
Hudes has also implemented a new program in the town which he expects to be announced this week, called the SLOW (Speed Limit Odometer Warning) Program, aimed at preventing speeding on neighborhood streets. Under this program, which Hudes brought to the supervisor and worked on with public safety, the town traffic safety department, and the Nassau County Police, a Town of Hempstead public safety vehicle would have a radar attached to it, telling drivers the speed they are traveling, what the speed limit is and warning them if they are exceeding the limit. Speeding on neighborhood streets is a complaint that Hudes and other councilmembers often heard from residents in the town.
Hudes has also kept a binder of all the complaints or concerns that he has heard from residents and a log of what has been done to correct the problems. Focusing on a pro-active, rather than reactive approach to government Hudes has also gone in search of any problems that may have come up within the town, such as crosswalks that have to be repainted or signs that have been vandalized and has worked to correct those situations before they disrupt the residents in that area.
Through his seat on the board, Hudes has also ensured that any commercial rezoning project that came before the board, which affected a residential area, fit in to the landscape of the community and was appropriate for that particular neighborhood. In many instances he has required businesses to properly landscape their property so it would be visually acceptable to the area.
Bringing together his experience as the president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, the chairman of the Nassau County Graffiti Task Force and his involvement in many organizations such as the Lions Club and the Fraternal Order of Police, Hudes has worked within the local communities in the town to help small businesses through workshops and seminars, helped clean up the local neighborhoods and assisted charitable organizations in their fundraising efforts.
Whether it be sponsoring a girls' little league team in Bellmore, helping the Merrick American Legion to obtain land for a statue honoring all those who served the country in times of war and in times of peace, assisting the Levittown community in preventing a Home Depot from coming into an area abutting two elementary schools where it was not appropriate, or working with the East Meadow community to make Prospect Avenue safer, Councilwoman Linda Reed has made her presence known in her two years on town board.
Reed has made the safety of town residents a top priority during her tenure on the board. The Prospect Avenue and Home Depot situations are just two examples of this concern. On Prospect Avenue, because of the high number of accidents on that road, Reed and County Legislator Norma Gonsalves worked to have the lines re-striped and to have oversized stop signs put in to ensure safety on that roadway.
The proposal to bring a Home Depot to the Nassau Mall in Levittown was another instance where Reed got involved to ensure the safety of residents. Because the property where Home Depot was proposed abutted two elementary schools in the Island Trees School District, many residents expressed concern for the safety of those students because of the trucks that would be entering the property and the pesticides and other potentially dangerous substances that would be sold there. Reed stepped in and helped to convince Home Depot that the Nassau Mall, which is located in a residential neighborhood, would not be the appropriate place for their store and the company pulled out of the lease. It was to protect the safety of these residents that Reed also worked with Hudes and other officials to prevent the Target truck entrance and to scale back the expansion of Hempstead Turnpike.
Another instance where safety was a priority for Reed was the Park Avenue Bridge in Wantagh. It was brought to Reed's attention that when cars parked on either side of the bridge to fish, there was no place for pedestrians to walk without being in the middle of the road and because of the incline of the bridge this was an unsafe condition because cars could not see the pedestrians until it was too late. By working to eliminate parking on one side of the bridge, Reed was able to provide an area where pedestrians could walk safely.
Reed has also been working to have the speed limit on Wantagh Avenue between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway reduced to 35 mph. Because this is a county road, the county must approve a change in the speed limit before the town takes on their responsibility of posting the new speed limit. Although the reduction has not yet taken place, Reed believes that this will be occurring soon and she intends to continue working toward this goal until it is realized.
Reed has also worked to improve the appearance of many areas within the town. One example of this is the work she has done with the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce to revamp and clean up the Fireman's Triangle, to make it so it would be a gateway for Wantagh.
For the better part of the past two years Reed has also worked with other town, county and state officials on the beautification project for Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown. A pet project for both Hudes and Reed, this beautification involves landscaping as well as working with the local businesses on a facade improvement program, bringing a more unified suburban look to the turnpike.
Despite the loss of the November election, both Hudes and Reed have maintained that they plan to remain active in their local communities and to see through any of the projects they have begun and to help their neighbors in the Town of Hempstead in any other ways in which they are able.