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Wed, 13 Jul 2005

Pols argue use of grants - Newsday

Pols argue use of grants

Nassau legislators threaten to withhold money to Hempstead unless a list of project priorities are made

BY DENISE M. BONILLA
STAFF WRITER
July 13, 2005

Two Nassau County legislators turned an otherwise routine Hempstead town board meeting into a contentious discussion of priorities yesterday, when they confronted board members over what they said is inappropriate use of federal redevelopment grants.
Legis. Kevan Abrahams and Roger Corbin are demanding that the Town of Hempstead come up with a better plan to use the Community Development Block Grants, saying they will withhold more than $5 million in federal funds from the town if such a plan is not made.
The legislators, both Democrats, told the majority Republican board that it needed to prioritize development in areas such as Nassau Road in Roosevelt.
"The bottom line is the communities of Roosevelt, Lakeview, Elmont, whatever areas that money is being deemed for, have been suffering for 20 years without economic development in those areas," Abrahams told the board.
Supervisor Kate Murray and board members, including Democrat Dorothy Goosby, defended their use of the money saying that in Roosevelt alone, the number of blighted structures has dropped from about 175 to 200 to about 30 in the past 20 years.
Abrahams of Hempstead and Corbin of Westbury said the town’s approach to redevelopment has been "piecemeal rather than holistic." But Goosby, whose district includes Roosevelt, called Nassau Road one of her "pet projects."
The grants, which are channeled through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Nassau County and then distributed to towns, are designed to help revitalize communities. Last year, the county received $17.5 million, distributing $5.4 million to Hempstead.
The arguments over the spending of the money may be moot: President George W. Bush has proposed that the grants be removed from the 2006 federal budget.


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