On Saturday, one day after he was indicted on charges that he was paid about $80,000 in salary from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office for work he didn’t do, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman Edward Walsh was back screening candidates for office.
And one of the candidates who screened with him was local county Legislator Al Krupski, who gave a simple reason why: He wants the nomination and the criminal charges against Mr. Walsh had no bearing on his decision.
Short-term rental regulations may have been the main topic at last week’s panel discussion at Greenport’s Townsend Manor Inn, but many realtors in attendance had questions about another issue: a new Suffolk County anti-discrimination law that prohibits them from asking prospective tenants about their finances.
Passed in January by the county Legislature, the law amends Chapter 526 of the Suffolk County code to “incorporate changes adopted by the state,” according to a copy of the legislation. (more…)
After town board members appeared to oppose completing a bike and recreational path at the Enterprise Park at Calverton over the summer, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved allocating $200,000 to complete the path on Monday.
Riverhead Town and New York State have already contributed $100,000 each toward the path, though three miles of the 8.9-mile path remain unpaved.
The bike path will get walkers and bikers off the dangerous public road, as it is located inside the fence around EPCAL, officials say.
Initially, it appeared part of the southern portion of the trail would be on the public street on River Road, but that will now be inside the fence as well, according to North Fork county legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who sponsored the funding bill.
“It will be an off-road, non-motorized trail of over eight miles long for use by all county residents,” Mr. Krupski told legislators Tuesday, adding that the county won’t have to pay anything else, since the maintenance will be handled by Riverhead Town.
Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who spoke before the legislature Monday, said the town is planning on holding events on the trail, such as fundraisers for the Wounded Warriors, and a Halloween Walk.
“We just think it’s a great project,” she told legislators.
Ms. Giglio was peppered with a slew of questions from western Suffolk legislators, who asked about things like whether the trail would impede economic development at EPCAL or use of the runway there.
She said the trail is not on part of the property where the town plans to see land for economic development.
“I’m comfortable with it,” said Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue). “I think bike paths are important.”
“I think it’s a reasonable investment,” said Legislator Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), who said it cost $1.7 million for a pedestrian-friendly trail in his district that only covered 8/10ths of a mile.
Riverhead Town’s alternative transportation advisory committee, to which Ms. Giglio is the liaison, has been championing the bike for the several years.
Supervisor Sean Walter said work on the extension of the bike path can’t commence until the environmental studies of the EPCAL site are completed and the town Planning Board approves the EPCAL subdivision which will show exactly where the bike path will go.
“We’re in the end stages of the study at this point,” Mr. Walter said. He thinks the subdivision could be approved some time in early 2015.
He added that he’s not sure if the $200,000 will be enough to complete the bike path.
Suffolk County is moving forward with a million-dollar plan to restore seven acres of land at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead that once served as a dumping ground for the county’s dredging projects. The measure is expected to improve the surrounding ecosystem by re-opening proper tidal flow to the area. (more…)
I should have been suspicious last month driving into a gas station off the Long Island Expressway to fill up. I’d written a column in May about the effort of Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) to require gas stations to make clearer the difference between the cash and credit prices of the fuel they sell. (more…)
I am increasingly concerned about the Suffolk County legislators “borrowing” funds from drinking water protection funds that are supposed to be used to make sure our drinking water is safe from contamination, toxins, etc. Water sampling is down 15 percent due to staffing shortages of testers.
The Suffolk County Legislature OK’d the deal Tuesday, but voters will have the final say on an agreement that would drop two pending lawsuits environmental groups have filed against the county alleging a misuse of funds they say are reserved for protecting the county’s drinking water aquifer.
County legislators passed support for most of the deal 14-4 at their general meeting. First announced in June by County Executive Steve Bellone and the parties who initiated the lawsuits, part of the agreement maintained that after legislative approval, a public referendum would ultimately determine if the deal would go through.
The accord stems from what environmental advocates have called a “raiding” of a portion of the Drinking Water Protection Program, a quarter-percent sales tax that Suffolk voters have chosen to levy upon themselves through the year 2030. It is intended to protect groundwater through several specific uses, such as open space purchases and a fund dedicated to stabilizing residents’ sewer rates.
In 2011, and again in 2014, the county dipped into the sewer stabilization fund, using the money to help plug budget gaps. Environmentalists say that violates the terms under which voters agreed to tax themselves and is therefore illegal.
Under the proposed settlement, the county could still dip into the fund — which had a balance of around $140 million last year — until 2018, in order to meet long-term financial needs. However, any money diverted would have to be paid back in full by 2029. No interest would be attached to the repayment.
While the announcement in June required voter approval for any future changes in the Drinking Water program, legislators withheld support of that part of the deal on Tuesday. Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said that because negotiations are still technically ongoing — the lawsuit has not been officially dropped — the legislature was advised to table support for part of the agreement.
North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said he was at first “disturbed” by the agreement, since it contains no provisions guaranteeing the purchase of farmland in the future.
However, he said that Mr. Bellone and the Legislature’s willingness to preserve farmland on the East End in the past have eased his mind. And in the end, voters will still have the final say on whether or not this agreement suits their needs.
“I would have structured this a little differently, but I wasn’t at the table,” Mr. Krupski said Wednesday morning. “So I didn’t have that option … But I think if you look at this globally, this is the hand we were dealt. And past decisions have really made our options limited financially. This was, I felt, the best option to take.”
With county budget forecasts looking grim, Republican members of the Legislature — though split on the issue — expressed concern about the long-term viability of paying back the debt.
Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he would rather see the dollars currently in the sewer stabilization fund — the section of the Drinking Water Protection Program that would be borrowed from — used to build sewers to revitalize the county’s downtown areas and update aging cesspool systems countywide.
“This is nothing more than kicking the can down the road with steel-tipped shoes,” Mr. Trotta said. “People are saying we cut a deal and fixed a problem. But we have beaches closing because cesspools are running into our water. Sewers would fix that.”
Legislator Tom Barraga (R-West Islip) voted in favor of moving the agreement to voters on the merits of giving the public the power to make its own decision. But he said paying the borrowed funds back by 2029 could end up being more trouble than it’s worth, a concern Mr. Krupski said the county would have to address before the payments come due.
Minority Leader John Kennedy (R-Smithtown), however, pointed out that if the lawsuits proceed, and the county prevails, it won’t have to replay the funds at all.