Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 13 August 2010 00:00
More than 20 residents and community members were in attendance for the Aug. 2 village hall public meeting. Mayor George Starkie began the meeting according to agenda by swearing in the three new Board of Ethics committee members. The newly appointed panel consists of village residents George Orobona, Marie Gilmore, and Margaret Ross.
George “Jim” Orobona is a third generation village resident. He has been very active as a member of the Downtown Revitalization and Beautification Committees.
Marie Gilmore is a lifelong Farmingdale resident. She organizes the Flu Shot Program for the village. Gilmore is a member of St. Kilian Church where she coordinates the weekly senior program and volunteers as a Eucharistic minister and at the parish outreach center.
Margaret “Peggy” Ross has called Farmingdale home for 22 years where she and her husband Greg are raising their two daughters. Peggy is a volunteer at LaSalle School and as a lector and Eucharistic minister at St. Kilian Church.
The ethics panel was established as a result of a mailing, Eye on the Village, sent to Village residents by its editor, Georgiana Sena, in May 2010. The newsletter alleged Starkie Brothers Custom Landscaping was awarded a no-bid contract within the village several years in a row. At the Monday, June 7 general meeting, the village board voted to create the panel. Any issue that cannot be resolved on the board level will be forwarded to the ethics committee.
“The Board of Trustees was split on voting for an ethics board after hearing the pros and cons of having one,” said Mayor Starkie. “It was a promise we made to the people of Farmingdale so it became necessary to keep our word; time will tell if we were right or wrong.”
The committee appointments are for three, four and five-year terms to allow for future staggered appointments of five-year terms.
Attorney Peter Bee, from the firm of Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan LLP, was in attendance as a representative for Cablevision Systems Corp. in order to secure the renewal of an existing franchise agreement with the village. Like all service providers (gas, electric, phone, etc.) to the village, the agreement grants Cablevision access to streets and rights of way to provide its services. The renewal agreement, the details of which are mostly transparent to residents, totals $45,000 to be paid to the village over a 15-year span.
During the hearing, the board allowed Pamela Goldstein, an attorney representing Verizon, the chance to dispute Cablevision’s renewal contract, a point that was taken into consideration by the board members. While Verizon’s renewal agreement was secured nearly two years ago with the village, Verizon objects to certain language within Cablevision’s contract that seems to have an advantage over their own. Goldstein maintains that Cablevision’s contract is conditional and leaves room for contingencies, which Verizon’s contract does not. In general, each provider wants the assurance that no other carrier will receive a more favorable deal. Verizon has no such statement in their contract and is requesting Cablevision remove it from their agreement.
Although provider contracts must be approved by the Public Service Commision as comparable, giving no provider an advantage over the other, the village board members took a brief adjournment to executive session to discuss its position. The board moved to approve the renewal agreement with Cablevision, conditional of Cablevision removing the wording in its contract of its actions if the village were to award a better contract to any other provider. This provider dispute is typical in each of the municipalities during contract renewal hearings.
The board opened a continuance of its public hearing on the skateboarding law. Several changes were made to the law to include making it illegal for skateboarding, in-line skating and roller-skating in public village parks. The law only protects the parks at this time, still allowing for skating on sidewalks, streets and parking fields.
“Our parks were being trashed,” said Starkie. “I am trying to save what little bit of parks we have in the village and keep it safe.” While 8th Precinct officers were being asked to patrol the parks, they were unable to enforce removing skaters from the park because no law had been established. Another deletion from the village law is the penalties statement, while offenders will still be fined $100 for each offense, the penalty of imprisonment has been removed. Two suggestions were made to ease the dispute within the village, one being to create a committee to investigate solutions to ease the dispute, while still providing safe locations for skating and the other suggestion was to communicate with the Town of Oyster Bay for a new skate park to be rebuilt on its acres of open space.
Two changes are coming to Main Street within the week. The board approved a resolution to prohibit trash placement from Main Street businesses and residents at the curb from Prospect to Front Streets. All trash is to be taken to the rear of the businesses for proper pickup throughout the parking field. Aside from aesthetic reasons to preserve the beautification of Main Street and accommodating more al fresco dining, the board cites simply, the growing amount of trash left curbside for pickup. This is an amendment to an existing law, which went into effect on Monday, Aug. 9.
The board approved several requests by Main Street restaurants to add outdoor seating in front of their establishments. Outdoor seating will be available at the Library Café, Cascarino’s, Dominican Restaurant, and Gino’s.
A resolution was passed to pro-rate the purchase of all railroad-parking permits after July 1st each year. This resolution applies to all resident and non-resident permits purchased. Permits purchased after July 1st for the remaining calendar year will be sold at an adjusted price.
Due to the Labor Day holiday, the next public board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sep. 7 at 8 p.m. at the Village Hall.