Supervisor Saladino shares the state of the town

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The recently reinstated Glenwood Glen Head Civic Association invited Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino to its meeting on Jan. 31. There, the supervisor delivered a state of the town address to inform residents about improvements to town government and its processes, New York American Water and upgrades to the town’s infrastructure and facilities. Over 30 people attended the meeting.

Overall improvements

Following a PowerPoint presentation, Saladino noted the major changes in the town that have occurred since he was elected in 2017. “This is just a small cross-section of what we’ve really gotten done,” he said.

In 2018 the town cut property taxes by $1.3 million, lowered its capital debt — which was a whopping $750 million — and reduced its workforce payroll. Saladino added that he anticipates the debt would reduce by another $15 million in 2019. Overall spending is also down, by $10 million. The fiscal responsibility, he said, was due to enhanced internal financial controls and holding respective departments accountable for their individual budgets.

Citing the town’s previous culture of nepotism, Saladino made mention of the town’s Board of Ethics, which was established in 2016, and its efforts to enhance oversight and strengthen transparency. Another point of pride was the provision of same-day permits and streamlined services at the town’s building department.

New York American Water

A topic on many residents’ minds was New York American Water. In 2017 the company was granted a four-year rate increase, which took effect on June 1 of that year. This June, the third phase of increases will take effect. Saladino sympathized with concerned residents; he, too, is a NYAW ratepayer.

A feasibility study that would determine if a public entity could accommodate NYAW ratepayers on the North Shore could be launched as early as this month, according to representatives from the Sea Cliff Water Service Area Advisory Committee. If the study recommends that a neighboring water district could support the district’s 4,500 customers, the next step would be condemnation, either by the town, the county or the state.

Saladino said the most feasible option would be a state condemnation, which would allow the Sea Cliff district to merge with a municipal water district, like Jericho. “We need Albany to bring the money here and buy out the resources of New York American Water,” he said. “The state is the only entity that can afford that kind of expenditure; it is way beyond what the town can afford.”

Arthur Adelman, of Sea Cliff, asked the supervisor if the town had any influence to alleviate the expense of NYAW’s fire hydrant rental fees. “With the $750 charge of a hydrant we’re getting hit twice,” he said. “It hits the fire companies and it’s added to the bottom line of our taxes.”

Saladino said that the town attorney was “working on it,” and that he had contacted state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to conduct a full audit of the company. “We’re doing everything we can to turn this back to a municipal water supplier,” he said.

Upgrades for roads and recreation

The town will initiate phase two of its road maintenance program in 2019 to mill and refill pothole-ridden roads in Glen Head and Glenwood Landing. “The highway department has conducted a full assessment of every single road in the town, and the roads will be done per community,” Saladino said. The cost of milling and refilling one mile of road, he added, costs $400,000.

Residents can also expect improvements at the town’s parks and recreational facilities this year. The baseball fields at Gaynor Park, in Glen Head, will be reseeded for the new season, and a new fence will be installed. Saladino said the parks department has also discussed the possibility of adding turf soccer fields at the site.

The town’s Department of Public Works and office of Intergovernmental Affairs is currently pursuing a study at Tappen Beach, in Glenwood Landing, to assess the site’s septic system and consider whether it will require upgrades or be replaced.

Civics member Barbara Holzkamp, of Glen Head, said that Tappen’s layout lacks proper sun shelter, save for a few umbrellas. As an avid user of the pool, Holzkamp said, “Sun protection is very important, and there is very little shade.”

Parks Commissioner Joseph Pinto said that the department had sunshades, new umbrellas and chairs on order, which will be added to the park before the spring. He added that the bathrooms near the Blu Iguana restaurant would be upgraded as well.