It’s been a two-year tug of war between Assemblyman Brian Curran, a Republican from Lynbrook and Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, a Democrat from Hempstead, for whom should keep the vacant Armory located on Babylon Turnpike in Freeport.
In late June, Curran voiced support for his own bill to transfer the property to Freeport. For the last two years, he, along with the assembly Republicans has voted against Hooper’s bill from passing by denying a 2/3 vote of the Assembly.
Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats have also voted against Curran’s bill.
Last summer, Nassau County had permission from the state to use the property and after hurricanes Harvey and Maria, Cedarmore Corporation used the property to store and collect community donations for hurricane victims. But stepping into this summer, no decision has been made and the discussions continue unresolved.
In a press conference held by the village on January 2016, Mayor Robert Kennedy called upon Governor Andrew Cuomo to return the armory to the village, but nothing resulted then either. In the past, Cuomo has vetoed Hooper’s legislation on two separate occasions and has said he would not sign either bill until there is a consensus on the issue.
The armory, which closed in 2011, sits on three acres of property on Babylon Turnpike, near Lakeview and Grand avenues. The property, was originally owned by the village, was donated to the state in 1949. Freeport officials said they believe the state should return it to the village, and that it would be best used as the DPW’s headquarters.
Last summer, Mayor Robert Kennedy said the idea made sense since the existing DPW headquarters sustained around $10 million in damage to its structure, equipment and fuel storage tanks during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
After the facility was flooded by seven feet of water and limited the access to the facility in the wake of the disaster, moving to Babylon Turnpike may be the best option versus staying in the industrial park region where the DPW’s headquarters are presently located.
Although the facility was rebuilt with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in the event of another serious storm, Kennedy says it would be questionable whether the village would receive the same financial support from the federal government the next time. Curran says it would cost taxpayers $25 million to storm proof the present facility.
“It makes more sense to build a new facility on the grounds of the armory,” Curran said. “It should be transferred back to the village — its original owner. I stand with our local government and our residents on this issue.”
Hooper, who represents District 18, which includes Freeport was not available to comment.