In recent weeks, a rumor over possible housing development in Albertson has attracted the attention of both that village's residents and members of the Town of North Hempstead council.
The controversy started at a recent "Meet the Candidates" night before the Albertson Civic Association. While there, Councilman Tom Dwyer was asked if the town was planning to build any low income housing in Albertson. He replied that there are no such plans. Not only that, the town, Dwyer later said, does not have the ability to construct such housing in Albertson.
Dwyer's Republican Party opponent, Tom O'Connell, was also at the meeting. He was not asked the same question, but he expressed his support for building affordable housing for the area's senior citizens.
After meeting, rumors about low income housing construction began to circulate throughout Albertson, New Hyde Park, and other neighboring villages.
The next phase of the story took place at the Oct. 1 meeting of the TONH council. Catherine Guder, president of the Parks Civic Association in New Hyde Park attended the meeting. While there, she noted a "very vocal denunciation of a rumored housing development" in Albertson. Ms. Guder later recalled that "while members of the board repeatedly denied any plans for housing in North Hempstead, they did acknowledge the existence of a housing initiative."
Robert Groman, a Roslyn Heights resident, was also at the TONH meeting.
"Members of the town board, including the supervisor, categorically denied there were any plans or proposals currently at the town level which included any subsidized housing in the Albertson area," he said. "The conclusion I reached is that the town board is very much aware of the feelings of the Albertson community and although Supervisor May Newburger indicated she was very much in favor of certain types of affordable housing, there is none proposed nor none planned at this time."
Concerning the existence of housing initiatives, Dwyer would only say that every municipality in Long Island "is exploring the opportunities for young people and senior citizens, to try to figure out how to keep these people in our backyard."
Ms. Guder further claimed that Nassau County "hopes to create 3,000 new units of housing." She added that county officials recently held a meeting and roundtable with the Town of North Hempstead's Department of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Dwyer said he had no knowledge of the Nassau County plan and has "nothing to do with it" if indeed, such a plan exists.
"There are no plans in any neighborhood to do anything," the councilman said of the entire matter.
Dwyer also expressed his frustration with the rumor itself and the anxiety it caused to Albertson residents.
"I had no ability to stop the rumor," he said. "People in Albertson feared low income housing was coming to their area." Such residents, he said, were "put under a lot of pressure and had great concerns." The entire rumor, the councilman concluded, both had no justification for being started and as such, was most unfair to the people of Albertson.
Dwyer also praised a letter Supervisor Newburger sent to each Albertson resident, one that affirmed that "no such plan" for low income housing exists. The councilman also supported the supervisor's contention that a housing crisis, especially for young people and senior citizens, is a real and pressing problem.
"Long Island is being drained of employees because of the housing crisis," he said. "Seniors are leaving for North Carolina and Florida." He reiterated that a key issue for the town is how to keep young professionals---teachers, firemen, policemen, nurses and other workers---on Long Island.