Twenty-twenty will be a roaring year in Franklin Square and Elmont, as various civic groups have already planned events for the new year.
Perhaps the biggest event happening in Franklin Square this year will be the opening of the Franklin Square Museum.
Construction on the museum began in 2003, and the Historical Society installed its new sign at the Naple Avenue property on Jan. 3. It is expected to open soon, according to Bill Youngfert, a member of the Historical Society.
“We’re so close,” he said, noting that the society originally planned to open the museum last spring.
The facility will feature all of the photos and artifacts from Franklin Square that the Historical Society has collected over the years. Residents may recognize some of the artifacts, Youngfert said, and gain a better understanding of the community’s history “It’s going to be wonderful,” he promised, “it’s going to be great.”
The Historical Society will also hold its annual dinner at the end of April. In the past, residents have been honored at the dinner, and raffle prizes were awarded.
“It’s been jokingly referred to as the black-tie event of Franklin Square,” Youngfert said.
But the Historical Society is not the only organization that has its schedule set for 2020. The Franklin Square Civic Association will hold meetings every month, and is planning to have representatives from the Franklin Square and West Hempstead water districts discuss water quality later this month.
Civic Association Secretary Frank Culmone explained that its members were concerned that the water contained 1,4-dioxane, a potential carcinogen that has been found in Long Island’s groundwater, and invited residents to ask representatives from the water utilities about the issue at the association’s Jan. 28 meeting at the John Street School. “We want to know what they’re going to be doing to keep the water clean.” he said, adding that everyone is invited to attend the meeting at 7 p.m.
Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce will hold its Getting to Know You event on June 11, when residents can meet with local business owners, and Rescuing Families Inc., a local organization that helps families in need rebuild, will hold its inaugural Night at the Races on April 3 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2718, on Lincoln Road. All of the money collected will help fund the organization’s rebuilding efforts.
“We decided to do something a little more interactive,” Gina Centauro, one of the co-founders of Rescuing Families, said of their decision to hold a horse racing event. She noted that the organization’s Ugly Sweater Bingo Party in December was a success, “and we like to change it up to keep the people talking about our events, and keep them coming back.”
The organization will reprise its Ugly Sweater Bingo Party on Dec. 18, and will hold its annual barbecue on July 26.
Construction on a hockey arena, hotel, retail space, office space and a community center at Belmont Park is expected to continue this year, as are the two lawsuits seeking to halt the project.
Tammie Williams, an activist who opposes the project, noted that residents will be able to decide who will represent their interests in the redevelopment project by participating in the 2020 census and voting for state officials in November. Elmont is currently gerrymandered, meaning that its electoral boundaries were designed to establish a political advantage for a party, she explained, and has three state senators as a result. Those state senators, Williams said, helped push forward the project despite residents’ vocal opposition to the project, as there is not one senator who represents the entire minority-majority community.
“Our voices are becoming more and more diluted,” she said. “Gerrymandering is everyone else speaking for the community that’s not in the community.”
The state is expected to redraw the district lines in 2021, based on the populations shown in the 2020 census.
Meantime, residents will be able to celebrate Belmont’s role in the community at the Elmont Chamber of Commerce and New York Racing Association’s annual Belmont Stakes Parade on May 30. Last year, more than a thousand residents gathered on Hempstead Turnpike to celebrate the parade. Local business groups, scout troops, dancers and students from all five high schools participated in the annual event.
“The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is a celebration that reflects the interests of our community partners who take pride in demonstrating their support for this internationally acclaimed sporting event that we have the good fortune to host each year,” New York Racing Association President David O’Rourke told the Herald last year. “Belmont Park and the Belmont Stakes are a part of the fabric of our community.”
The chamber will also hold several networking meeting throughout the year, and its annual State of Elmont meeting, in conjunction with Elmont civic associations and community groups, will be on April 1. The Multi-Chamber Networking Meeting, at which residents can network with business owners from Elmont, Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Hempstead and Malverne, will likely be held in May, as will the Tom Bennet Spaghetti Dinner for Veterans. The year will culminate in its annual Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 2.
Finally, Elmonters will be able to enjoy a nice summer night at National Night Out on Aug. 4. It will be sponsored by Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages and the Nassau County Police Department’s 5th Precinct Problem Oriented Police unit to bring closer relations between Elmont residents and the police officers sworn to protect them. It will offer dancing, entertainment, food and raffle prizes for attendees.
Ronny Reyes contributed to this story.