The Town of North Hempstead has much to boast about. Its finances are among the best in the state with an Aaa bond rating, it is rated among the best places to retire and relations with residents and elected officials are cordial.
For this, Judi Bosworth deserves much credit.
During her six years as town supervisor, North Hempstead has made real progress. But challenges remain.
Several downtown business districts are struggling with vacant storefronts, particularly in Great Neck where a once-vibrant business community has fallen on hard times.
Bosworth has begun to reach out to the business community with an initiative to take advantage of the town’s strong cultural offerings and an invitation for chambers of commerce to work on possible solutions.
But it is here that Bosworth’s desire to get along with people may be too much of a good thing, preventing her from taking a more active role in bringing the many villages that make up a place like Great Neck together to work on the common business corridor they share.
It is fine to accept the authority of each government, but Bosworth should not allow the business community to founder in the process. From issues ranging from parking to zoning, she needs to be more forceful.
Bosworth’s skills will be put to the rest with a controversial proposal by Macy’s and Brookfield properties to develop the department store’s Manhasset property with a hotel, apartments, new stores and restaurants and a redesigned property. We hope she and the Town Board will take more of a lead in these talks than they took on the issue of medical marijuana.
Bosworth, like many in town officials, appears unwilling to press for a comprehensive plan for mixed-use zoning in business districts with retail on the ground floor and apartments above.
This is seen by many as needed to revitalize downtown business districts battling online shopping, malls and strip malls.
Mixed-use zoning also offers a solution to staunching the exodus of millennials in a graying town and county. The town’s Project Independence offers needed services to help seniors stay in their homes. But the needs of millennials go unaddressed.
Questions also surround Bosworth’s handling of the much-needed Clinton Martin G. Martin pool renovation project in New Hyde Park.
The project significantly upgraded the pool. But the park renovation is now the subject of a lawsuit between the town and Wantagh-based Gramercy Group, which did the work. The town is withholding $1.3 million for what it considers unfinished business, and the contractor is claiming an additional $1.5 million in unpaid debts.
Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio said this month that no change orders for the project were brought before the Town Board, adding, “I’m not sure we ever voted on any of those cost overruns.”
Bosworth said she is not certain what De Giorgio was talking about.
“I understand that the overruns we were aware of went to the board,” she said. “She was never at any kind of meeting, and only saw the park during a ribbon-cutting, so I’m not sure what she’s talking about. According to what I know, this is not costing more than what we planned for.”
She also points out that members of the park district have enjoyed a significantly upgraded facility the past two summers.
Bosworth is opposed by David Redmond, a Mineola resident who works for the Nassau County Board of Elections, but has no other government experience at any level.
Redmond, an experienced technical consultant with a background in electrical engineering, said he would bring a more hands-on approach to town projects and has a greater aptitude for new technologies that would make the town Building Department more efficient.
The handling of the renovation project at Clinton G. Martin Park has been one of Redmond’s points of criticism throughout the campaign, and he said he would have handled it much differently.
“If they had hired the right people and done their due diligence, this project would not be an issue,” he said. “I would have gotten constant updates from people who were working on this project. It’s a manageable project that should not have gotten to this point.”
Bosworth appears to need an upgrade to her management team. She also should continue to find ways to speed up the town’s application process for building permits, both commercial and residential.
But she is the clear choice in this election.
Blank Slate Media endorses Bosworth.