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Letter: Past, Present And Future Of Housing In Levittown

Levittown’s history can be periodized into five approximate eras; a Jerusalem Period (1664-1837) in which Quaker and Puritan settlers and their descendants established an agricultural community south of Hempstead Turnpike and thence into present-day Wantagh; an Island Trees Period (1837-1900) in which the arrival of the LIRR on the Hempstead Plains facilitated the establishment of farmsteads from Hicksville southwards to the Turnpike; a Period of Modernization (1900-1936) whereupon automotive technology and aviation and electricity made their appearance; and a Suburban Period (1936-1980) in which explosive population growth, commercial expansion, and residential development remade the face of the land. 

 

Since 1980, we have been in an Ex-Urban Period which might well be nicknamed the “age of agonizing reappraisal”. The fact is, solutions to late 1940’s problems will not help us in 2014. We can either accept that  the one-family suburban home is no longer an economically viable model for our residential needs, and well become less so as we approach the Levittown Centennial in 2047, or we can sustain obsolete zoning codes like the LPRD (at least in its current configuration) and see more boarded-up homes followed up by more boarded-up homes until Levittown looks like the slum its naysayers in the 1950’s predicted it’d become. To wit: the tommyrot and ballyhoo anent low-income rental housing and the accompanying historical amnesia. 

 

Many have forgotten that Levittown in 1947 was low-income rental housing for homecoming GI’s who were just starting out in the job market, had no college degree (oftentimes not even a high school diploma), had no money, and had nowhere to go and nothing they could afford. Some, quite frankly, eighteen years after the stock market crash of 1929 were flat broke. And what’s more, being a Levittown resident in the 1950’s arrived with a social stigma from the residents of more affluent and/or established surrounding communities; people vocal in their opposition to William Levitt and his low-income rental housing. Many have forgotten that the unique LPRD, the brainchild of Mr. Levitt, was also the creation of a visionary who, on May 7, 1947, led a “March on Hempstead” demanding Section 809 Article 8 of the Town Building Code be abolished and replaced with Article XV known as the LPRD because he saw it as an obsolete impediment to future community growth. And many people, especially Baby Boomers and Generation X-er’s who grew up in the 1950-1980 era when suburbia and middle class prosperity was “a given”, have forgotten how Levittown’s “pioneers” in the 1950’s were the same families that, two decades earlier, stood in soup kitchens and on bread lines during the Great Depression. Today’s low-income person—“the forgotten man of 2014”—is not a lazy, shiftless freeloader or a bum. He’s somebody with a college education whose career has been outsourced overseas, downsized, or given to cheap foreign labor; the person who can’t even land a job at a local supermarket because he’s deemed “overqualified” for its welfare wages. He’s somebody toiling in a department store for minimum wage selling items made by twelve year-old girls and boys in Third World sweatshops rather than working class American adults who, back in the 1950’s, could have received an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. 

 

The people in need of low-income rental housing in 2014 are our friends, neighbors, and family and those who sneer at them and sneer at the whole idea of low-income rental housing ultimately are sneering at Mr. Levitt and his vision of a better life for the working family. 

 

Paul Manton 


News

Five year projection shows tough road ahead

The Levittown Board of Education unanimously adopted a $198.7 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which comes with a proposed tax levy increase of 1.62 percent. This represents a $2.1 million increase from last year, for a proposed levy of $133.2 million.   

 

The Levittown school district will receive $49,163,299 in state aid for the 2014-2015 school year, which increased by $690,049 from last year’s budget. The other revenues also show an increase of $684,250 from last year. 

 

In the past seven years, the district received its largest percentage of state aid in 2008-2009 with 30 percent. According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Pastore, state aid has decreased since then, leveling off for the past few years and coming in at slightly below 25 percent for 2014-15.

Seven in contest for three seats on school board

On April 8, members of the Levittown Property Owners Association invited all seven candidates in the running for Island Trees School District Board of Education to a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Of the seven only four attended, and only three spoke on the dais. 

 

According to Levittown Property Owners President Diane Kirk, members of the Island Trees School District were invited to attend the forum, but declined stating that they were going to attend their own forum on May 12.

 

Challenger Brian Fielding, a 1995 Island Trees High School graduate, opened the forum with the promise of more transparency.  


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero. 

 

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more.  The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season. 

Friday Pins, Pizza & Pepsi

Trevor Williams 166,101

 

Keith Kyte 137,119,115

 

Anthony Baio 111,73

 

Alyssa Williams 141,133,120

 

Lauren Walpole 114,105,96

 

Kaitlyn Insinna 106,68,67

 

Robert Brooler 107,97

 

Frank Pietraniello 94

 

Friday Bumper Stars

Matthew Banfich 140,95

 

Nicky Barrera 115,99

 

Jake Mauro 107

 

Anthony Barrera 97,79

 

Michael Pietraniello 97,87

 

Ty Peranzo 95

 

Steven Tiemer 92

 

Nick Bevinetto 90,82

 

Ava Banfich 103,101

 

Julianna Mauro 103,87

 

Gianna Centonze 102,91

 

Victoria Gray 91,87

 

Mike Rosen 87,86

 

Steven Brauer 85,83

 

Stephan Mandola 83

 

Joey Mohaudt 81

 

Pantelis Siriodis 80

 

Kelsey Casperson 85,73

 

Stephanie Tiemer 71,67

 

Kathleen Hoffman 68,65

 

Friday Rising Stars

Jason Tiemer 191,169,138

 

Max Benson 179

 

Andrew Scarpaci 168,162,148

 

Avery Benson 151,149,135

 

Matthew Brezinski 143,110

 

Ted Fiber 128,115,114

 

Paul Klein 126,107

 

Nicholas Pisano 123,115

 

Billy Walsh 108

 

Saturday

Levittown Island trees

 

Michael Beck 117,89

 

Zach Pilser 114,110

 

Sophia Bloom 93,90

 

Olivia Bloom 81,79

 

Christian Tucci 88,85

 

Louis Bonaventura 84,79

 

Ava Tucci 74,65

 

— Submitted by the South Levittown Lanes


Calendar

Maundy Thursday - April 17

Andrew Dice Clay - April 17

American Legion - April 18


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com