Tag Archive | "Chris Nuzzi"

Suffolk County: Schneiderman Earns Sixth and Final Term

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Heller_Dems 2013 Campaign Reception 11-5-13_1121_LR-1

Incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman Celebrates his Victory at a Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton November 5.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Jay Schneiderman has earned a sixth and final term on the Suffolk County Legislature handily defeating his Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi during Tuesday night’s election.

Schneiderman — an Independence Party member running with the support of the Democratic and Working Families parties — earned 11,329 votes or 60.34 percent of ballots cast, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE). Nuzzi — a Southampton Town Councilman running with the support of both the Republican and Conservative parties — earned 7,444 ballots or 39.64 percent of the vote.

With absentee ballots, and the results of three election districts not yet reported, Nuzzi conceded the race to Schneiderman in a phone call just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

“I want to congratulate Jay, a long serving elected official,” said Nuzzi Wednesday morning. “It is not an easy thing to do and despite our disagreements on the campaign trail I respect his win.”

“I want to reiterate my thanks to Southampton residents, in particular, for all the support they have shown me in my two terms on the Southampton Town Board,” added Nuzzi, who will step down from that board due to term limits in January. “I value that experience more than anyone knows.”

“To the residents of the second legislative district, of course, I was in this to win it — we all are,” said Nuzzi. “But it is bigger than just the election. You can make a point and force conversations about important issues regardless of the election outcome.”

As to whether or not he would seek another run for public service, Nuzzi said it was simply too early to speculate on his political future.

“It takes an awful lot of any person, and their families for that matter, to put themselves through the election process,” he said. “Right now I would be purely speculating and it would be premature. At the same time, I love public service, I love serving in office and I would certainly consider public service in the future.”

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said he was pleased with the outcome, and in particular was satisfied with the large margin of approval given he was running on his record of service.

“The race is over,” he said. “Chris called and conceded last night and we had a very nice conversation. I credited him on a well-run race. I think he was a formidable opponent.”

Schneiderman added he was pleased to have the opportunity to work with incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who appears to have secured a third term, as well as Larry Cantwell, the Democrat-elect to the town supervisor’s seat in East Hampton.

“I want to assist the towns in tackling regional issues in any way I can,” said Schneiderman who added he plans to hit the ground running on issues like tick borne illness abatement.

Schneiderman recently passed legislation requiring the county to develop a comprehensive plan to address tick abatement and tick borne illnesses through its division of vector control.

“Over the last few weeks, so many people have reached out to me that I believe it is a more prevalent issue than I initially believed it to be,” he said. “That will be a central issue I focus on, and in particular having the county step up to secure resources from state and federal officials to bring attention to this health epidemic we are facing on the East End.”

Revitalizing the Riverside area in Southampton, and looking at water quality issues are also at the top of Schneiderman’s agenda, he said.

“I don’t know exactly what the next two years will hold,” he said. “I know the next big fight will be who will be the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. I am interested. Whether that comes to pass, we will see, but I am a senior member of the majority, so it is possible despite the power center of the legislature being in western Suffolk.”

Captain Robert Pearce Named Southampton Town Police Chief

Tags: , , , , , , ,


By Kathryn G. Menu

The Southampton Town Board voted to promote Captain Robert Pearce into the position of Chief of Police of the Southampton Town Police Department at its Tuesday night meeting.

Captain Pearce will be officially sworn into the position on Thursday, December 6.

Captain Pearce was named interim police chief earlier this month in the wake of the resignation of Chief William Wilson, Jr.

Chief Wilson submitted his letter of resignation to the Southampton Town Board after just 18 months in command of the East End’s largest law enforcement agency. He replaced long-time police chief, James Overton, in May of 2011. Wilson had previously served in the Southampton Village Police Department, where he was named chief in 2006.

Wilson’s tenure as chief of the department will come to an official end this Saturday, December 1, although the chief has not been on the job since before Hurricane Sandy hit in late October, impacting much of Long Island including Southampton Town. Wilson was on vacation leave during the “super storm” and after submitting his resignation in early November, the town board announced Wilson would use the remainder of his vacation and sick time between then and December 1.

Captain Pearce led the town’s emergency response in dealing with the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, as well as the storm’s aftermath.

Board support for the promotion of Captain Pearce was decidedly different from when the officer was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. Despite Wilson’s protest, in March the Republican and Conservative majority of the Southampton Town Board – Chris Nuzzi, Christine Scalera and Jim Malone – backed Pearce’s promotion. This time, the promotion to police chief was adopted unanimously.

According to the resolution affirming Captain Pearce’s promotion, there are fewer than three candidates willing to accept the position who have reached the rank of captain or higher in the whole of Southampton Town, including departments outside of the Southampton Town Police Department.

Following Wilson’s resignation, Councilman Nuzzi said he believed the majority of the board would want to see the promotion from within the department, rather than an outside appointment similar to Wilson, who came to the Southampton Town Police Department after serving as Chief of the Southampton Village Police Department.

The provisional appointment to police chief will include an annual salary of $166,669 for Captain Pearce effective December 1, according to the town board’s resolution.

Celebrate Earth Day Across the East End

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

This coming Saturday, Christine Fetton will spend most of her waking hours at the Southampton Town transfer station in North Sea, doing what most people probably consider a most undesirable activity: monitoring trash.

As the director of waste management for Southampton Town, monitoring trash at the town’s transfer station, where she keeps an office, is a relatively routine role for Fetton. However, this Saturday is Earth Day, which means Southampton Town will be holding its annual Great East End Clean-Up (which runs through Sunday).

This time last year, Fetton said the town collected a grand total of 56 tons of garbage.

“I think we’re going to be a little busier this weekend than we are during normal weeks,” she said with a grin.

As in years past, the Clean Up will bring hundreds of East End residents to beaches and parks throughout Southampton Town for a conscientious environmental cleanse in the name of Earth Day, the one day out of the year when communities around the world make an effort to beautify their immediate surroundings.

In addition to the Great East End Clean Up, residents here will also be able to take part in a smattering of other nature-oriented events. The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike) will host a cleanup of its own at Sagg Main Beach from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, followed by an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The open house will not only include a Live Raptor and Animal Show at 1 p.m., but also a walking tour that requires nothing but your eyes and a working cell phone.

“You dial a number on your cell phone and it goes to a recording with information about that stop [on the nature walk],” said Nature Educator Lindsay Rohrbach.

Out in Montauk, Earth Day will be widely celebrated on Earth Day’s official date: Sunday, April 22. From 9 a.m. to noon, people will be invited to clean up areas around Edgemere Street (garbage bags will be available at the movie theater), and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. kids will be able to decorate reusable grocery bags at the Montauk Playhouse.

The emphasis on reusable bags is also a big part of this year’s town-sponsored events in Southampton. During the Great East End Clean Up, trash collectors will be asked to separate single-use plastic bags from the mix. According to Fetton, this accumulation of plastic will be used as data.

“This way we can work to establish a baseline of usage, which we can compare to next year’s numbers,” Fetton explained.

While the town voted against instituting an all-out plastic bag ban (like the one now in place in Southampton Village) earlier this year, it has embarked on an educational campaign, urging residents to limit their dependence on plastic.

This entire effort, called Greener Southampton: The Solution is in the Bag, will be kicked-off this Saturday, as well. Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera and Councilman Chris Nuzzi, in addition to the town’s Sustainability Coordinator Liz Plouff will be at the King Kullen Supermarket on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton from noon to 2 p.m. to discuss the environmental hazards of plastic bags. (Those shopping within that time frame who spend $10 or more at the store will receive a free reusable bag.)

Taking a momentary break from the plastics discussion, Plouff will also talk about the town’s Green Homes initiative, through which homeowners in the town of Southampton can request free audits on their home’s energy efficiency. She will also mention the town’s anti-idling campaign.

In the end, Fetton said there may only be one organized town-wide cleanup in Southampton, but she hopes this year’s educational efforts will have long-lasting effects.

“The key is continuing education,” she said.

While plastic bags may take center stage this year, Fetton said these educational efforts, which have branched out to civic associations and other community groups, try to incorporate all aspects of sustainability, from limiting the use of plastics to diminishing the number of idling vehicles.

“All of these issues mesh very well because they have a ripple effect for one another, and when you live more sustainably you reduce the amount of pollutants in the environment,” Fetton continued. “We have to get away from the mindset that Earth Day is just one weekend out of the year.”

Task Force to Crack Down on Building Violations, Like Rose Hill Estate

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Rose Hill Estate adjusted

By Claire Walla

The Rose Hill Estate is a sprawling mansion with 10 luxurious rooms, a swimming pool and spa, separate pool house, basketball and tennis courts, billiard room, theatre… the list goes on. At monthly rates ranging from $140,000 to $375,000, it bills itself as “the ultimate luxury rental in the Hamptons.”

But it is now also facing numerous zoning code violations brought on by Southampton Town Code Enforcement.

The estate is just one example of such residential problems here on the East End, according to Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera.

Last Tuesday, February 14 the two town council members — who both serve as liaisons for code enforcement issues — co-sponsored a resolution to reinstate the town’s Housing and Quality of Life Task Force. The task force had been created in 2006 to address problems of overcrowding, but its activities have since decreased — until now.

“It’s been a consistent issue in the town,” Preston Scalera stated.

She added the town receives many complaints from residents regarding unmaintained or illegal residences, and the newly created task force is a way to address those issues in a more timely and effective manner.

“These are very real issues, and people make repeated attempts to try to fix things,” she continued.

Sometimes, though, however diligently the town may be working, it takes months, even years to begin prosecuting some of these cases.

“It gets frustrating for people, and I can understand that,” she added.

The task force will bring a collection of department heads to the same table to streamline the process of investigating these zoning and building code violations, like the case with Rose Hill Estate.

After executing a search warrant earlier this month, Southampton Town Investigations and Enforcement Unit found that portions of the residence — which has a certificate of occupancy for 10 bedrooms, a pool house, a swimming pool and spa — were being converted into an additional two-bedroom apartment “for concierge staff.”

Southampton Town Code Enforcement Officer David Betts said the town itself had been aware of the estate, which was built in 2010. But, the town had also received complaints about the property from neighbors.

The complex, run by Michael D’Alessio, was ultimately slapped with a plethora of violations. They include: no rental permit, transient rental (multiple counts), no building permits (multiple counts), no plumbing or electrical permit for pool house conversion, change of use converting two rooms in the basement to bedrooms and violation of the certificate of occupancy. Concierge staff, Megan Kemper and Matthew Ardley, were also charged for not having a rental permit and issued transient rental violations. All parties are due in Southampton Town Justice Court on March 2.

Employees from Rose Hill Estate didn’t return calls for comment.

“As far as whether they’re still operating, I’m not aware that they are,” Betts continued. “But they’re certainly aware that they’re in violation of the law.”

Betts added that in order for the house to have run the way it had been operating for the past two years, it would require a change of zoning.

“The owner [of Rose Hill Estate] blatantly disregarded the law for his own personal gain at the expense of his neighbors and legitimate area hotels and businesses,” Councilman Nuzzi said in a statement. “Also of great concern are the potential safety issues related to the rooms that were constructed illegally without the proper inspections.”

According to the text of the newly adopted resolution, it is a “priority” for the town to recreate the task force in order to efficiently respond to and prosecute “quality of life violations” in the town.

The organization will meet once a month — or more if needed at the discretion of the town attorney — and will be composed of representatives from several key departments in the town. They include: the attorney’s office, police department, code enforcement, land management (building, zoning and environment), fire marshal, town board and representatives from the town justice court.

“A priority of the task force,” Nuzzi continued, “will be to look at how to prosecute violators, particularly repeat violators, in a more efficient and expeditious manner.”

New Southampton Town Board Member Focuses on Environment

Tags: , , , , ,


Christine Scalera_7985 adjusted

By Claire Walla


Last Friday marked the four-week point for new Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera. The Republican from Water Mill defeated Independent Party member Brad Bender in a tight race last November for an open seat on the town board.

So, what’s it been like to be at town hall for one month? The Express sat down with the councilwoman to find out.

“I know it’s only been four weeks, but it feels like it’s been four months!” exclaimed Preston Scalera who said she felt almost fully integrated into the fabric of town hall pretty early on.

As the former deputy attorney for Southampton Town and a former councilwoman in Oyster Bay, Preston Scalera said she came into town hall with certain strengths, which she said she’s already put into action.

“My background is planning and zoning,” she noted. “I would very often help people through the myriad of legislation [surrounding such things as building permits], and help them deal with different people in different departments.”

Thus, she is already assisting Councilman Chris Nuzzi in his effort to create a project development council for the town.

According to Preston Scalera, this would be a resource for residents, particularly small business owners, who are in the midst of planning or building projects. The council would advise applicants how to best complete all necessary documentation with the town in the most efficient way possible, to avoid redundancies and superfluous material.

But beyond town hall operations, the councilwoman has already demonstrated a keen interest in environmental issues, and is spearheading the effort to build an educational campaign around the town’s use of plastic bags.

“I’ve been working on that diligently,” she said. “The challenging part of that is trying to get the food industry and the other business entities, and the town’s sustainability committee all on the same page.”

While Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst had pushed efforts to adopt legislation that would effectively ban all single-use plastic bags in the town of Southampton — as has already been done in Southampton Village — Preston Scalera said there are too many interests at stake, which is why she’s helping to promote an education campaign instead.

“I think that an all-out ban, legislation, is the easy way out,” she continued. Getting people to change their habits and stop throwing away plastic bags “takes more thinking outside-the-box. You have to balance the very real goal of protecting our natural resources and minimizing the impact on the business community.”

At this point, Preston Scalera called legislation a “quick fix.” But, she said if education efforts don’t seem to work, then the town might revisit legislation.

In the same vein, Preston Scalera is also beginning to draft legislation that would create a water mitigation fund, which she said would be general enough to apply to both freshwater and coastal mitigation projects.

“It could be used for a whole host of things, like upgrades to septic systems or even projects the [Southampton Town] Trustees are working on,” Preston Scalera said of the proposed fund.

“I also want to change the code so that it would be a town-wide benefit under PDD [Planned Development District] law,” she added. In this way, any construction project that falls under PDD jurisdiction would be able to put money toward water mitigation as a “community benefit,” just like low-income housing and pine barrens restoration.

Most recently, Preston Scalera also said that she completed the rather customary cycle for new board members of official “getting to know you” conversations with town hall department heads. She expects to review their written feedback — details on plans or studies in the works, and upcoming capital projects — in the coming days.

“I want to see where there may be room for us [town board members] to step in and help, or what may need to be put on the backburner,” she explained. “Just as we’ve streamlined staffs, we have to help them run [their departments] efficiently.

“The most challenging thing is constantly looking for that balance,” she continued. “Given our economic constraints, this means [streamlining the town’s workflow] and still getting residents the services they need.”

Town Board Approves $80.3 Million 2012 Budget

Tags: , , , , ,


By Claire Walla


Last week, the town of Southampton unanimously approved a 2012 Adopted Budget that would represent a tax levy of approximately $63.8 million. According to the supervisor’s office, the exact calculation for what next year’s spending cost would be is still being tallied.

While this budget will be less than Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s preliminary $80.2 million spending plan, it still represents a 1.2 percent tax levy increase over this year’s operating budget. The supervisor had created a zero-percent increase in her proposed budget. But the 1.2 percent tax levy increase incorporated into the adopted budget still resides within the two-percent tax levy cap local governments throughout the state of New York must abide by for the 2012 fiscal year.

For a resident living in a home assessed at $600,000 outside an incorporated village in the town of Southampton, this represents a tax increase of $18.48, bringing town taxes up from $816 to $834. For residents within incorporated villages with homes assessed at $600,000, this would represent a reduction of about $24.21 on their tax bill.

In total, the town board will see 19 voluntary retirements from those taking advantage of the town’s retirement incentive. Employees will receive an additional $1,000 per every year of service to the town upon their retirement this year.

One of the greatest topics of conversation leading up to last Friday’s vote was the town’s police department. The supervisor had laid-out plans to reduce the staff by eight senior officers. However, the town board ultimately voted to force into retirement only three senior officers, who will retire by the end of the year along with four senior officers who had already planned to retire in 2012.

Town board members have the authority to force into retirement any police officer who has served for at least 20 years on the force. Though never enacted before, this provision to town code was implemented decades ago during contract negotiations between the town board and the police union.

The board’s Republican majority — Jim Malone, Chris Nuzzi and Nancy Graboski — voted in favor of the revised plan, which would retire three members of the Police Benevolence Association (PBA) instead of those officers who are members of the Superior Officers’ Association (SOA). Bridget Fleming voted against it and Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst abstained.

What’s more, board members also voted 3–2 against the supervisor’s proposed plan to spend nearly $700,000 on technology upgrades at the town police department. The program would purportedly have cut-down on the amount of time it takes officers to generate paper documentation and according to Throne-Holst, it would have saved the department money over time. But the board’s majority members, while supportive of the overall idea, felt it best to be more fiscally prudent in these economic times.

Southampton: Top Cop Aims To Trim Operations

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla


Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilson admitted last Friday, November 4 that his department has, in fact, spent $225,000 more than its allotted overtime funds due primarily to changes in the department that he implemented when he took office last May.

However, he said, those costs don’t represent the full story.

Though the overtime budget is currently in the red, Chief Wilson said he has a vision for the department that will not only solve the overtime dilemma, but will bring more financial stability for the police department for the years to come.

“I think we can agree that the Southampton Town Police Department, operationally, has been on an austerity budget for quite some time,” Wilson began. “In looking at the long-term health and longevity of the police department over the next 20 years, I was tasked with finding significant savings [when appointed as police chief ].”

For fiscal year 2012, that total is $1.5 million, which is currently built into the supervisor’s Preliminary Budget. That cost savings is laid-out in a plan to trim the police department by eight members, using a stipulation in all officers’ contracts with the town that allows town officials to force officers who have reached 20 years of service into retirement. (Under Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s plan, officers who have 25 years of service or more will be affected.)

While Southampton Town Comptroller Tamara Wright recently said this formula has been complicated by the fact that fire service has now been thrown into the mix of what constitutes an officers’ employment with the town — the number of officers now eligible for retirement has risen to 12 — the chief maintains that trimming his staff in this way is the most effective for the department.

“There has been some concern with the department’s ability to operate with a certain amount of ‘brain drain,’” he said, referring to the fact that those forced into retirement would be the town’s senior officers with the most experience.

“We have talented people in those positions,” he continued, “But we have talented people waiting to fill those positions. So, at no time would public safety be jeopardized.”

He went on to explain that part of his reorganization would be removing superior officers from positions that he said could easily be “civilianized.” Wilson said that the lieutenant currently responsible for the office of emergency management — “an expert in the field” — has agreed to come back to the department after his retirement next August on a part-time or consultant basis in order to train a “civilian” to do the job.

Similarly, the chief said that a current sergeant interested in taking the town’s retirement incentive has agreed to come back to the department to work in an administrative, civilian position.

“In doing so, that would allow me to be able to flatten out the current command structure,” Wilson commented.

His goal, as he has explained it, is to get more uniformed officers out of the office and onto the streets.

In speaking to the longevity of the department, Wilson also told town board members that he hopes to make better use of technology to streamline procedures within the department that, as of now, are “archaic.” After adding that he has been asked to trim current staffing levels down to 90 (he said there were 96 when he first took command), operations will have to be streamlined.

That cannot be done “without the automization of a substantial amount of the services we perform — filling out paperwork, records management, processing evidence,” he added.

In one sense, Wilson continued, overtime numbers increase “because of the amount of uncommitted officer time — there is a report generated for every single thing that we do.”

But cutting back on those reports is not an option.

“One of the primary purposes of law enforcement is documentation,” Wilson said. “It’s just the way that the documentation is done that takes up time.”

The board went into executive session to discuss the finer details of Wilson’s plan regarding which specific staff members he proposes moving to higher positions to fill the spots of those expected to take retirement or be forced into retirement. However, though the board discussed Wilson’s plan for reorganizing his staff, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst noted that she would be continuing discussion with the department’s two main unions: the Superior Officers’ Association (SOA) and the Police (PBA).

Should an agreement be reached or should the board decide not to force officers into retirement, Wilson noted that it would affect his carefully mapped out plan for a reorganization that would result in $1.5 million in savings.

Pointing to the fact that the new measurement for retirement eligibility at 25 years now includes 12 officers instead of eight, Councilman Jim Malone said that decreasing the department by 12 officers “is not sustainable,” adding that that would mark a drop-off of nearly 50 percent.

As discussions continue about the future of the town’s police department, Malone said he wanted to see more options than the what’s currently laid-out in the Preliminary Budget (retiring those who have accumulated 25 years of service).

“While it’s a viable choice, the choice of one is not really a choice in my mind,” he said. “There’s got to be a contingency plan.”

Town Cops Bust OT By $225,000

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

Much to the surprise of all members of the Southampton Town board, the Southampton Town Police Department has already spent $225,000 more than was allotted in its 2011 overtime budget — and it continues to accrue more debt.

At a town board work session held last Friday, October 28 the board met with Lieutenant Bob Pearce, Deputy Town Comptroller Kathy Scott and Town Management Services Administrator Russell Kratoville to discuss how the police department managed to run such a high deficit. Police Chief Bill Wilson was unavailable last week, though he is scheduled to address the issue again at this Friday’s work session, November 4.

According to Pearce, there are several factors for the overtime shortage. Not only was the department overworked in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, he said a recent shortage of staff has contributed to the need to dip into overtime. The department has lost four officers, bringing its force down to 92, and there are currently eight officers who are out, six of whom are being replaced in their absence.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi demanded to know why, from 2008 through 2011, when there wasn’t a huge variance in the number of police officers, “there is a huge variance in overtime,” he said. “I think drilling down to the details is necessary to see how these numbers shifted.”

Pearce further explained that when Chief Wilson joined the town he increased the number of sectors with 24-hour patrol from seven to eight, adding an additional patrol car for the Flanders/Riverside area, which Pearce said studies have showed has a relatively high rate of crime and warrants 24-hour patrol.

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that it’s important to maintain eight sectors of patrol.

“We saw a very active season this year and there was a commensurate rise in crime activity that needed to be investigated,” she said.

For that reason, Throne-Holst said that the rise in costs came from the detective division.

According to figures read off by Russel Kratoville, the detective division generated 91 hours of overtime in July, 170 hours in August, 120 in September and 150 hours during the first 15 days of October.

For Nuzzi, the crux of the issue goes beyond the reasons why the department has accrued this debt, he is concerned with the town’s immediate dilemma. With two months left in this fiscal year, he emphasized the fact that there is currently a zero in the budget line for the department’s overtime pay.

“How are we going to be able to shift resources around to deal with this?” he asked.

The board had previously authorized shifting $175,000 from the department’s retirement fund to off-set this deficit, but that was before it was revealed that these overtime costs are rising.

“I just want to add that I felt as though I was caught,” Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said. “I didn’t know that we were in this position in the first place. I would have felt a whole lot better about authorizing the money if I had known prior to that — or if we had had something in the way of advisory — that there was no more money left.”

Budget Discussion Focuses on CPF Bond

Tags: , , , ,


By Claire Walla

The first regularly scheduled public hearing on Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s tentative 2012 budget focused largely on the Community Preservation Fund (CPF).

Bob Anrig, chairman of the CPF advisory board, began discussions by firmly urging the board to approve a $125 million bond offering for the department.

“What I care about is the long-term interest of the town,” he said last Friday, October 28 at a special board meeting on the budget. “I believe that going forward this [bond offering] is good, smart government. The land is available, prices are the best they’ve been in a long time and the financing costs are at all-time lows.”

The benefit to the bond, Anrig further explained, would be to secure the money to preserve the lands now, at a relatively low interest rate, before property values in the town rise.

“We have been stalling on this,” Anrig continued. “My fear is that it’s become a political hot potato and we need to move forward on this now.”

Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming are in support of the bond measure, while the board’s conservative majority members — Chris Nuzzi, Nancy Graboski and Jim Malone — expressed some concern with taking on more debt. If, for whatever reason, the CPF does not have enough money to continue paying back the bond, Nuzzi said his worry was that then the burden would fall to Southampton Town taxpayers.

Fleming, however, noted that the bond measure would take fluctuating costs into account. It’s a four-year pay-back plan that she insisted the town would be able to extricate itself from, should the town foresee the possibility of CPF revenues not remaining as strong as they are currently predicted to be.

Throne-Holst pointed out that even in the midst of the financial crisis, “CPF has remained robust.”

She doesn’t expect the fund to decrease so dramatically that it would be unable to pay for the bond, but if it should, she added, “The fact of the matter is that should it ever get to that dooms day scenario, we could then go to the state and say we may need to reverse one of these purchases. But the likelihood of that is so remote.”

Jim Malone echoed Nuzzi’s sentiments by reminding the board that in 2007 the fund was lower than it had been in years past.

“We saw an impact,” he stated. “The fund does move.”

Nuzzi also pointed out that without the additional bond, the CPF would still have roughly $20 million worth of funds to dedicate to the purchase of open space.

“I support the bond, and I think it’s completely right that it’s become a political hot potato,” Fleming said, harking back to Anrig’s previous statement. “I feel good that this is good, strong money management. It’s different than just taking on debt.”

Fleming urged Anrig — himself a banker and a local real estate agent — to further explain why the CPF advisory board is so adamant that the $125 bond be issued as soon as possible.

“The bond proposal has been written in extremely prudent terms,” said Anrig. “ We tried to ensure that even after all costs of the fund are considered that we have a debt service coverage ratio of projected revenues that’s at least one-and-a-half or one for the bond.”

“The opinion of the underwriters was that that was an extremely conservative set of assumptions and a conservative debt service coverage ratio,” he continued.

Anrig added that this bond would be completely funded by CPF revenues, so it would have no affect on the Southampton Town tax rate.

During the public portion of meeting, Linda Kabot, the former Southampton Town supervisor who is running a reelection campaign as a write-in candidate against Throne-Holst, used her time at the podium to weigh-in on the issue.

“I applaud [the fact] that the majority of you appear to be more fiscally conservative to scale that [bond proposal] back to address the risk,” she said.  “You’re talking about doubling our debt load. I do think that needs to be vetted further.”

Update: Parking Ban in Noyac

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

On Tuesday, July 26 Southampton Town Board will vote on a resolution to lift the partial parking ban now in effect on Noyac Bay Avenue in Noyac.
Earlier this month, town board member Jim Malone sponsored a resolution to compromise on 100 feet of unrestricted parking on the south side of Noyac Bay Avenue, which dead-ends at a channel leading into a private marina. However, after numerous residents in the greater Sag Harbor area and several more East Enders supporting beach access rights continued to fight to lift the ban completely, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst pushed to put another resolution on the agenda that would do just that.
At previous town board meetings, Throne-Holst, Malone and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming have openly expressed their support of lifting the parking restrictions entirely, claiming beach access to be a fundamental right for those in the town of Southampton.
While Councilman Chris Nuzzi has said he, too, supports beach access, he has previously expressed an unwillingness to take action beyond the 100-foot compromise that’s already been adopted by the town.