New Cassel, a 1.5 square mile, economically-depressed hamlet in the southeast corner of North Hempstead, chalked up a milestone last Friday at a ribbon cutting announcing the completion of three multi-use, multi-million dollar revitalization projects along the Union Avenue corridor.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman (at podium) with Nassau County Deputy County-Executive Patrick Duggan, Bishop Lionel Harvey, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Legislator Roger Corbin, Abdul Hakim representing New York State Senator Craig Johnson and New York State Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine.
Town, county and state officials gathered Jan. 16 to announce the completion of three New Cassel revitalization projects. The developments are part of a partnership between the county and town to help spur economic development in New Cassel. The project was funded in part by Community Block Development grants from Nassau County.
Last week's event, which included a press briefing and tours of the three projects - rental apartments, condos and a senior complex - was conducted by North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. "[This] represents more than just the opening of a building," said Kaiman. "This is about community; this is about people coming together; and most of all, it's about giving our residents a voice on how their community is going to move forward."
Pointing out that this momentous occasion in New Cassel's revitalization comes amid very difficult times, the county executive said it also stands as an icon for governments and communities working as a team to get things done.
"This represents years of sustained effort between people working together to make a longtime dream become a reality," Suozzi said.
A number of other high-profile officials instrumental in helping to orchestrate the massive revitalization effort, including, Nassau County Legislator Roger Corbin (D-Westbury) and New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) joined with community leaders and project developers to celebrate the moment that so far has been almost a decade in the making.
"I am so proud of this day and the fact that there is more to come," said Corbin, recalling how Prospect Avenue, New Cassel's main corridor, was a dirt road when he was growing up in the community as a kid. "This represents the fruition of a tremendous amount of hard work."
In addition to the three multi-use projects boasting residential units atop retail space, work is ongoing on four other projects along Prospect Avenue. Thanks to the community's input during a visioning process, New Cassel will in the future have a supermarket, pharmacy and a bank for the first time in recent memory.
Plans are also in the works to completely reconstruct Prospect Avenue, making it more walkable and less congested by vehicular traffic. A multi-level, multi-use community center is also on the drawing board.
Bishop Lionel Harvey, a sparkplug in New Cassel's revitalization effort, called the juncture in the community's turnaround "a great day. "When people in the community can go into a supermarket for the first time and get fresh produce, there is going to be joy," Harvey said. "When people open the doors of their new home, there's going to be joy,"