New Cassel’s Success Story

Cablevision Editorials recently published two articles on the success and progress made in New Cassel. Having worked with the community for over a decade, Sustainable Long Island shared its congratulations and confidence in the many projects taking place. Below is our response to the two pieces and the original articles as well.

Sustainable Long Island’s response:

“New Cassel’s redevelopment puzzle will finally come together this summer…” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

From the more than a mile of Prospect Avenue that has undergone pedestrian-friendly traffic improvements to the summer’s youth-staffed farmer’s market that provides access to fresh, affordable food to residents, New Cassel’s $20 million community center is just the latest example of numerous tremendous projects and accomplishments this once challenged area has achieved.

In 2002, along with community and political leaders of The Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation and the Town of North Hempstead, Sustainable Long Island facilitated the community planning process, “Seeking a Shared Vision for New Cassel.” Nearly 1000 residents, property owners, businesses, and community activists participated and learned more about new processes for community revitalization. Over a decade later, New Cassel is reenergized and has experienced a rebirth.

Once the community’s voice was heard, New Cassel broke ground on their first bank and pharmacy. Buildings were constructed, businesses opened their doors, and apartments became homes.

Congratulations are in order to all the major players involved in this success story and all those who will reap the benefits in the future. Although far from complete, New Cassel has become something it had not been in decades: united and successfully moving forward.

That’s a “prospect” we can all get behind.

First original article:

New Cassel’s new community center symbolizes the success of this long-neglected hamlet’s redevelopment. As North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman showed us recently, it’s an amazing building.

“The first thing that we want to jump out is the brightness of the room,” said Kaiman. “It really is just a wonderful way to introduce the building. So there’s just little rooms where we can have lessons. Someone can come in and have computer lessons…

“So this is what we’re calling a reading room, and it’ll be in a sense the building library. This is our senior lounge, and we’ll have visiting nurses here and social workers.

“Now we’re actually in the Internet Café, where people can just come and grab a cup of coffee. And they’re going to see through those windows, and you can see the gymnasium.

“We’re going to have town-wide tournaments here, and a stage where we can put on shows.

“A state of the art TV studio, with all the most modern technology. Plus, it’ll be a room where people can come do recording and other stuff. And then here, is going to be our fitness room, exercise room.

“This is going to be our town 311 center. The goal was to meet all the goals of the community.”

The $20 million facility fulfills the vision of a faith community led by the Rev. Patrick Duggan and Bishop Lionel Harvey, and later embraced by political leaders in North Hempstead and Nassau County.

As Bishop Harvey recalled, “They wanted a bank, they wanted a supermarket, they wanted mixed-use housing. We’ve been able to do all of those things pretty well. But the community center was the last piece that fit the puzzle together.”

And while it’s still a work in progress, Prospect Avenue is now lined with nine new buildings, providing 200 units of affordable housing and retail space.

There are still obstacles to overcome, but New Cassel’s redevelopment puzzle will finally come together this summer when this new community center opens.

Second original article:

Eight years ago political leaders broke ground at this block on Prospect Avenue to renew New Cassel. Now you can see the results.

“Here we have a success story,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman. “We have a community, a main street with housing, with businesses, with a pharmacy that’s never existed in this area. We have a main street that’s completely rebuilt.”

“We have our supermarket coming in, we have our dental offices here,” said North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell. “We have new restaurants that are coming in. So the downtown that New Cassel wanted, we have.”

Along Prospect Avenue you’ll find nine new buildings, with stores, 200 units of affordable housing. Nearby a $20 million community center will soon open.

We asked two Hofstra professors what they learned from studying New Cassel and its leadership.

“There were two people at the beginning: Bishop Harvey and Patrick Dugan. And they actually did 500 meetings–in bodegas, in churches, in schools–and it helped the community to turn around,” said Mary Ann Allison, with Hofstra’s International Center for Suburban Studies.

The Suburban Studies Center’s Executive Dean Larry Levy added: “The good news is that New Cassel is a far better place than it was. It is more unified as a community. The not-so-great news is that we don’t know how this story in the end is going to turn out.”

Problems still abound. Too many new stores remain vacant. Few residents of this minority community found jobs in all this federally funded construction. Then, scandals delayed the project; and a bribery trial involving local politicians continues.

“The key is to keep your eye on the prize,” said Bishop Lionel Harvey with the community’s First Baptist Cathedral, “and to say okay, this happened but that’s not going to stop us. And I say that that’s the testament of this community. The tenacity of the community.”

Tenacity, no doubt, will be key to continuing New Cassel’s success.

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