The village election is today, and many residents are headed to the polls to vote for mayor and two trustees.
But 100 years ago today, residents took part in another vote — one far more important. On March 15, 1911, residents voted to incorporate the village of Lynbrook.
And while the milestone is certainly one to celebrate in 2011, many residents living in the early 1900s did not support incorporation, and a couple of attempts to establish the Village of Lynbrook actually failed.
In 1909, with incorporation having been discussed for about a decade, a vote was held to establish a village. A chief opponent of incorporation was Thomas Box, then Lynbrook's postmaster and a prominent businessman. Box was advocating for the establishment of a lighting district on Atlantic Avenue, believing that a full incorporation would be too expensive. Box campaigned against the incorporation, and swayed enough voters that the proposal failed, 257-181.
In the summer of 1910, residents again voted on the incorporation. This time, it passed, 277-233. But there was a problem — actually, two problems.
First, on Jan. 20, 1911, a court ruled that the vote was illegal because it took place on a Saturday, rather than a weekday. Second, the Hempstead Town Clerk had posted an election notice stating that residents could vote from "1 o'clock in the afternoon to sunset." But by law, residents were allowed to vote until 8 p.m. Sunset when the vote was held occurred at 7:29 p.m., 31 minutes shy of the required time. The vote was deemed illegal on these grounds, as well.
The clerk had discovered his error right before the vote, but apparently only posted one corrected notice at a local butcher shop — on a meat hook. This story is referred to as Lynbrook's "butchered" incorporation in The History of Lynbrook, a book written by Lynbrook historian Art Mattson.
On March 15, 1911, another vote was held. There were no issues with this one, and the Village of Lynbrook was created.
"While the 'old-timers' had a dislike of change, Lynbrook was growing so fast that the new people here eventually swayed the vote in favor of incorporation," Mattson said.
The incorporation meant that Lynbrook could establish its own village government, collect taxes from its residents, and provide its own local services — services that, until 1911, were being provided by the Town of Hempstead. Many areas around Lynbrook are still hamlets, which are unincorporated areas under the jurisdiction of the town.
"Having our own services under local control has lent a sense of community and of controlling our own destiny that those places do not have," Mattson said.
Most Lynbrook residents have certainly appreciated the benefits of living in an incorporated village. As we see in today's election, 100 years after Lynbrook voted to incorporate, residents are taking advantage of their voting rights — putting their faith in a village board comprised of all Lynbrook residents, dedicated to bringing another 100 years of success and prosperity to the Village of Lynbrook.