Bill to ensure preserved space remains accessible hits a snag

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A measure aimed at making sure the public has access to preserved open space in Nassau County has hit a snag.

A News 12/Newsday investigation last month revealed that much of the land Nassau County purchased as preserved public space is not accessible to residents. In response to that story, the Nassau Legislature's Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello, of New Hyde Park, introduced a bill that would mandate a change.

“This was something that we wanted to have happen. It didn't happen. So now we're going to make sure it’s codified in county law that it must take place,” says Nicolello.

News 12/Newsday Report: Nassau's open spaces purchases benefited insiders

Nassau spent more than $100 million to purchase property after county residents approved environmental bonds in 2004 and 2006. The land was purchased during the administrations of Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Ed Mangano, but accessibility projects at many of the locations were never completed.

Current Nassau Executive Laura Curran says she's in favor of making public space more accessible, but asked if the county could pay for it amid the current fiscal crisis in the county.

Curran says new legislation could further tie up the county's funds and isn't necessary. Instead, she says lawmakers should work with her to prioritize accessibility projects.

“I think we have to look at it on a case-by-case because each of these parcels are so different,” Curran told News 12.

Nicolello agrees with the county executive that each parcel of land is different, and should be looked at separately. Still, he insists legislation is required to ensure the work is completed.

The full legislature will vote on the bill in September.

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