Guest Spot: Surprise, surprise it’s a Town Board confused

The Gershow Recycling plant in on Hubbard Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)
The Gershow Recycling plant in on Hubbard Avenue in Riverhead. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

Give me a moment, I’ll tell you a funny story.

Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio went on WRIV radio to announce Riverhead can’t actually enforce town code at the Gershow facility because Riverhead doesn’t own a noise meter. You remember Gershow — they were approved by our Town Board to run a benign junk yard on Hubbard Avenue. Now they noisily “shred” cars there. The story gets better.

A few days after the councilwoman’s pronouncement, Supervisor Sean Walter stepped in to say it’s not true, the town does indeed own not one, but two decibel meters; they just happen to be located at police headquarters. Perhaps that’s why the Town Board might not think we have any. 

It doesn’t end there. At a work session, council members sniped at each other about the existence of the meters, so the supervisor produced them for the cameras in what Councilman John Dunleavy called a “gotcha” moment. When the meters were physically there for all to see, even our wobbly Town Board had to admit they were real. But then, it was revealed that the meters might as well be paperweights because no one in town code enforcement is certified to use them and, the board determined, the meters don’t work.

Then, Friday last — and I’m not making this up — Councilman John Dunleavy disclosed that the meters do exist, they do work and the board was just confused. It seems the meters needed batteries.

As the old saying goes, “Is this any way to run an airline?”

Time and time again our Town Board is surprised. They were surprised with enormous cost overruns at the ballfields in Calverton, which still don’t have lights. They were surprised when, three months into 2014, the town ran about $600,000 over budget. They were surprised when the developer of the Costco site was apparently mining sand right under the noses of town inspectors. They were surprised when that same developer cut down trees. They were surprised when a 5,000-square-foot building popped up without town approvals on Main Road. And the board was surprised when Gershow, a company with a well-documented, highly checkered past, started shredding cars in a quiet residential community.

Foul-mouthed, bass-blaring music as you hold your kid’s hand while walking downtown? No one’s coming to write a ticket because we forgot to buy batteries. A “party house” in your neighborhood? Sorry, no one is trained to use the decibel meter. Our deficit continues to grow. There’s no action at EPCAL. Our Town Board is fighting and they are surprised. There are no batteries in the decibel meter and they can’t hear what’s going on.

Anthony Coates is an investment and public affairs consultant. He lives in Riverhead and ran for Town Board in 2013.