State Assemblywoman Taylor Raynor, a Democrat from Hempstead, and State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford, are co-sponsoring a bill to give the New York State National Guard Armory, on Babylon Turnpike in Freeport, to the village. Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Democrat from Rockville Centre, is also co-sponsoring the bill.
Griffin, who represents South Freeport, said that a number of residents have talked to her about returning the armory to the village. Since taking office she has met with Raynor and Brooks to discuss the issue. Brooks introduced a bill in the Senate last month, and Raynor submitted the identical bill in the Assembly on Feb. 11.
“I would like to return the armory to the Freeport community,” Raynor said. “I have spoken to village officials, who have assured me that the community will be a part of the developmental process [of the property].”
Since 2011, village officials have sought the return of the property that Freeport donated to the state in 1949. The Village would like to move the Department of Public Works to the property, while the Cedarmore Corporation, a nonprofit organization operated by Zion Cathedral, would like to use the facility for educational purposes.
Former Assemblyman Brian Curran, a Republican from Lynbrook, said in 2017 that he believed the property should go to the village, but another former member of the Assembly, Earlene Hooper, opposes that idea, and has repeatedly said that the property’s ownership should be transferred to the church-affiliated nonprofit.
Mayor Robert Kennedy also supports the transfer of the property to the village, especially since the DPW headquarters, on Albany Street, was flooded by seven feet of water during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and sustained around $10 million in damage to its structure, equipment and fuel storage tanks. The flooding limited access to the facility and prevented the use of equipment stored there, along with the refueling of emergency vehicles, in the wake of the disaster.
“The residents and I are really thankful,” Kennedy said. “We have worked hard for past six years and now the transfer may come to fruition. Ultimately, [this transfer] will bring additional tax revenue to Freeport.”
In December of 2013 and again the following December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have turned the armory over to the church for $1, saying his decision was based on “lack of consensus” and “strong opposition in the community.”
Griffin said that “since all parties agree,” Cuomo could possibly approve the bill. “Senator Brooks and I have always firmly believed the armory should be returned to the Freeport Village,” she said. “This has just gone on unresolved for way too long.”
A representative of the Cedarmore Corporation could not be reached for comment.