Originally published in The Hempstead Beacon, April 20, 2012
By Brandon Palanker, Renaissance Downtowns
“…Only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s always hard to envision the future — but the ability to imagine the possibilities the future holds is the hallmark of people who make great things happen. Throughout history, men and women have literally moved mountains to realize their visions and their dreams. Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall and his administration, along with hundreds of enthusiastic Hempstead residents, are ready to move mountains if necessary to see their vision become reality. And I am thrilled to be part of that vision: the revitalization of Hempstead’s downtown. Indeed, Hempstead Village is already on the rise, and what lies ahead is truly fantastic. It’s my hope that the residents of this community will feel the change happening every day and that people in Nassau County, across Long Island, throughout New York State and far beyond will see this historic Village become what it should be: a vibrant and beautiful center of activity. The new Hempstead will embrace all aspects of life in a small community while keeping its arms open to business and entertainment and becoming a place for residents to enjoy and for others to envy.
Today, this is our vision; tomorrow it will be our reality. The redevelopment of Hempstead Village’s downtown area is this community’s ticket to a better, safer, cleaner, healthier and wealthier lifestyle. Last year, the Long Island Regional Planning Council (LIRPC) designated a $2 billion redevelopment of downtown Hempstead as a “Project of Regional Significance.” What the LIRPC means by this designation is that fixing Hempstead‘s downtown has significant potential to improve the overall quality of life for residents, as well as to become regionally important in the areas ofeconomic development, housing, transportation, energy, environment, education. public health, emergency preparedness and social and economic equity.
What does that mean to a resident of Hempstead? It means more jobs, better housing and a bright future. Mayor Hall and the village adntinistralion. the local organization Renew Hempstead, and Renaissance Downtowns-UrbanAmerica (RDUA) will work together to make certain that local employment opportunities are created when the project moves fonvard. Overall, the redevelopment is expected to create 3,500 permanent jobs and over 10,000 construction jobs. RDUA has already engaged in significant discussions with the local building trades to garner their participation in a Project Labor Agreement (FLA) that will further reinforce the provision of job and career opportunities for Hempstead residents. In addition, negotiations are underway to establish a Community Benefits Agreement between RDUA and the village that will ensure local job participation and the involvement of local contractors and businesses. Mayor Hall has formed a cornmittee to represent the contrnunity and work with Urban Strategies to develop the agreement, which will then be taken to the labor trades regarding the PLA component.
Studies regarding the sewer system have been already been commissioned; this is the first step in utilizing the $5 Million awarded to the village by New York State. The project will help spur the downtown development and alleviate existing sewer issues for neighborhoods throughout the village. Groundbreaking on repairs and upgrades is expected to begin by the end of this spring or early summer.
A vital aspect of our vision for Hempstead Village is to create wonderful opportunities for children and teens. To celebrate the contributions of these important members of the community, RDUA, Renew Hempstead and the Hempstead Boys & Girls Club recently collaborated in hosting a contest for young people. Children were asked to offer their ideas for the future of the vi]lage by drawing posters depicting their own dreams for Hempstead. The results were outstanding, and Mayor Hall gave out prizes for the top entries. Many other community leaders, including Hempstead Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia Garcia and Board of Education President Charles Renfroe, to name a few, came out to join in the spirited event. Parents and other community members were cheerfully supportive. Renew Hempstead plans to hold other similar events for Hempstead young people in the days ahead. I encourage you to visit renewhempstead.com and register so that you can vote on the types of shops, uses and arnenities you want to see in the future of the village. RDUA will review the top 10 suggestions with the highest number of votes to determine how those concepts can be incorporated redevelopment plan.
Hempstead is on the rise. The future of this village is bright. Soon, we will all begin to see it change before our eyes. I encourage you to get involved now, in the early stages of planning, so that when the future becomes the present, you will have the deep satisfaction of knowing you helped move a mountain to bring a vision to life.