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Why Are We Here, RFP Corruption?

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On January 11, 2013, The New York Cosmos, “formally delivered to the Empire State Development Corporation,” a plan to redevelop Belmont Park in Elmont. Other developers delivered proposals too, but none quite as elaborately rendered as The Cosmos’.

Residents and businesses huddled around various conference tables in meetings with Empire State Development (ESD) at their regional office in Suffolk. Public officials Michelle Solages, the freshman Assemblywoman from the 22nd Assembly District, Congressman Gregory Meeks, and County Legislator Carrie Solages, all met with ESD as well. In addition, meetings small and large were held around the conference tables of local business. But, something was wrong, something…

Conversations with Empire State Development helped form the basis for understanding the disconnect between Elmont taxpayers and those they “elected.” Why were local and state politicians forcefully pursuing plans for the Cosmos stadium in Albany, at the Nassau County Legislature, and within the HQ of the Town of Hempstead? Why did the proposed RFP limit the scope of what’s possible at Belmont Park? It became clear to Elmont residents that the RFP was flawed because its scope was deliberately limited by state and local politicians who misrepresented the community’s wishes and needs to Empire State Development.

Note that during the RFP submission period, an organization known as The Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development was in turmoil. Then chairperson, Sandra Smith was (is) an employee of Dean Skelos, and many of the members of the board were overt Republican Party operatives with glaring conflicts of interest. Meetings of The Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development erupted into brawls at the public library, which resulted in their temporary suspension from meeting there.

Using Elmont Online as its vehicle, the civic community and local business organizations drafted an online petition (here) and conducted door to door surveys that demonstrated the Elmont Community’s position on Belmont. Hundreds of petitions were delivered to Governor Cuomo, and Empire State Development but, to date, there has been no reasoned response that we know from either The Governor or Empire State Development.

The Elmont community’s only recourse has been the ballot box, and the 2014 elections were very telling. Jack Martins, the face of The Cosmos in Elmont, was soundly defeated within the Elmont electorate of the newly gerrymandered 7th Senate district. Opponent Adam Haber received 60 plus percent of the Elmont Vote. Among those who will live in the shadow cast by the proposed stadium, Martins received only 10 percent of the vote. (See here)

So why are we still here? Why have the Elmont and Floral Park school districts alligned themselves with Albany politicians who are ensnared in Federal corruption investigations, supporting the flawed, ill-conceived Cosmos stadium proposal that was overwhelmingly defeated by Elmont voters at the ballot box?

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 May 2015 16:50 )  

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