Updated: Dec. 19, 2019 at 1:56 p.m.
The old National Guard armory on Babylon Turnpike officially belongs to Freeport. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill on Dec. 11.
“It’s signed,” Senator John Brooks said before the ink could dry on Dec. 11.
With the property returned to the village, Brooks said it is now in the hands of Mayor Robert Kennedy to consult with the residents to determine the best use of it.
“The village is the rightful owner,” Brooks said. “I compliment the village administration for their honesty throughout the entire process. They wanted this back for the community use. Now it’s up to the community to decide.”
Cuomo commented that after nearly 10 years of vacancy, extensive damage from natural disaster, the state couldn’t “allow it to continue to deteriorate and have a detrimental effect on the Village.”
“This bill allows the State to transfer ownership to the Village of Freeport,” Cuomo said. “which will now be able to transform the property from a blight into an asset for the community.”
Assemblywoman Taylor Darling said she was excited to return the armory to the village of Freeport and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, who cosponsored the bill, added that she was grateful.
“This is amazing news,” Darling said. “We’re so excited to return the armory to the village of Freeport. I am especially excited this property will be properly maintained by the village of Freeport, because it was a safety concern of mine.”
“The residents and the village of Freeport have waited long enough for this contentious issue to be resolved,” Griffin said. I am glad that I could help do just that. This is a big victory for Freeport residents.”
Mayor Robert Kennedy said he was thankful that Cuomo transferred the property to the village and added that he was also thankful to Brooks, Darling and Griffin for “their continual support and efforts to return this property to its rightful owner.”
“This administration intends to evaluate any environmental issues with this property,” he said. “and meet with the Freeport community to decide the best use of this property.”
The village of Freeport has been trying to obtain the property for a number of years. The new bill will immediately transfer the property to the village. The new bill also resolve the seven-year tug of war over the property between local nonprofit agency across the street from the armory, Cedarmore Corporation that also tried to obtain the property from the state.
For a number of years the property ownership was in gridlock because Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper, who was defeated by Taylor Darling, a Democrat from Uniondale in a primary last year before she went on to win the general election in November. Hooper thought the property should go to Cedarmore. However former assemblyman Brian Curran, a Republican from Lynbrook, disagreed and favored the village. Because there was no consensus, Cuomo wouldn’t sign the legislation into law.
In January, Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford presented a bill that would legally turn over the property to Freeport. The following month, February, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, a Democrat from Uniondale presented her bill to the Assembly, which was cosponsored by Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Democrat from Rockville Centre.
According to Darling, Kennedy has assured her that the community will be involved in the decision of the usage of the property.
“He and I have,” she said. “also decided that I too will be involved in those meetings. It is important for me to provide the opportunity for the community’s voice to be heard.”