DeSena says new town master plan a priority in speech

DeSena says new town master plan a priority in speech
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena delivering her State of the Town address for 2024. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

Touting unity and her accomplishments in her tenure so far, North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena delivered her State of the Town address in which she said going forward the town will be focusing on developing a new master plan, addressing its building department and delivering on its capital project plans.

“None of this would have been possible if we did not work together,” DeSena said, “if each of us in this room did not put aside politics and ego, roll up our sleeves and get to work for this town. That’s why we are here. That’s why the residents of the Town of North Hempstead put us all here. We owe them nothing less.”

DeSena delivered her State of the Town address Friday afternoon in front of a room full of local elected officials and residents.

The supervisor said that in her second term she will be focusing on developing the town’s new master plan, which was originally devised more than 40 years ago and has not been updated since. She said the new master plan is necessary to address the current needs of residents and the town’s new generations.

“We must update our master plan to address quality of life and sustainability expectations,” DeSena said. “Doing so will deliver the results that the original plan once sought.”

She said the town will also be pushing forward in improving its Building Department, with the “historic” independent audit by the county comptroller to be delivered in the next few weeks.

“The Building Department is one of the most forward-facing, necessary services that the town administers and it must be able to be relied on,” DeSena said. “With this report’s findings, we will be better able to improve the department’s processes – making its services more dependable and user-friendly for our residents and businesses.”

The county’s review will include, but not be limited to, an examination of the department’s operations and procedures, the internal control environment, performance monitoring and regulatory compliance.

Also coming in the next few months, DeSena said, is work to revamp the town’s capital plan – its five-year plan outlining future projects. She said in the past it has served more as as a “wish list” than a concrete plan of action.

“As one of my Town Board colleagues humorously but very aptly put it, ‘ the capital plan is a place where projects go to die,’” DeSena said. “That must change.”

Instead, DeSena is proposing the capital plan to be one that achieves project goals and completion by paring it down to only projects that have already begun, creating milestones and focusing on townwide initiatives.

DeSena said the town will also be revisiting its code to confront outdated laws that “hold [the town] back at times.”

DeSena touted the town’s achievements during periods of economic uncertainty and hardship, including streamlining the town government to diminish taxes and usher in tax cuts in her first two town budgets as well as utilizing federal funds and grants for projects.

“Since my first day in office, my guiding principle has been returning the Town of North Hempstead to a taxpayer-first mentality and I believe we have made great progress in this regard,” DeSena said.

She said while the town has delivered this economic relief, more will be done as the town prioritizes “holding the line on taxes.”

“Amidst challenging economic times, leadership is measured by results, not promises,” DeSena said.

Other accomplishments included renewing the town’s collective bargaining agreement with its union employees – which provides a living wage, reduced healthcare costs and additional opportunities – as well as investing in infrastructure, parks, programs and events.

DeSena highlighted advancing town programs in the past year that included its Substance Misuse Advisory Council and Project Independence – which aids senior residents living on their own.

DeSena also expressed the town’s need to continue its sustainability and environmental actions, saying it is necessary for the health of future generations.

During her tenure, DeSena said she has prioritized collaboration among the town’s diverse community members to foster unity – something the town should continue pursuing.

“We must stay committed to the ideal that what is good for the individual is also good for the town,” DeSena said.

While DeSena noted a period of mistrust in elected officials, she emphasized the town’s transparency through North Hempstead TV, the town’s government access TV channel, public budget hearings and work sessions.

DeSena attributed the character and strength of North Hempstead to its scope, size and diversity, with the potential to thrive and progress further by pulling from its variety of community perspectives.

“We are a multifaceted community,” DeSena said.

While the town will have challenges to come, DeSena said North Hempstead is equipped to face them.

“Make no mistake, as the community and the world changes, there is difficult work ahead,” DeSena said. “No town in America can seamlessly balance the need for innovation with respect for its traditions – and certainly, this is pronounced in a community as historic and multi-faceted as the Town of North Hempstead. It’s a challenge, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, but it’s a challenge that we are more than ready for.”

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