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The GNVOA Looks to the Future

As the summer of 2009 winds down public officials and community leaders are looking to the immediate future and beginning to discuss “what’s next.” The Great Neck Village Officials Association, a major force in Great Neck and in Nassau County, had a full, busy year, discussing prominent issues and bringing them to the forefront, as well as actively advocating for the benefit of all residents. “If next year is anything like the past two years the GNVOA will continue to strive to improve the ability of our local governments to work for the mutual benefit of constituents and we will be inspired to take new approaches to both old and new challenges,” said GNVOA President J. Leonard Samansky, mayor of Saddle Rock.

Mayor Samansky, who was just elected to another term as GNVOA president, will serve with re-elected GNVOA Vice President Ralph Kreitzman, mayor of the Village of Great Neck, and Secretary/Treasurer Susan Lopatkin, mayor of Kensington. In an interview with the Great Neck Record, Mayor Samansky said: “When we began our last term the GNVOA adopted a new symbol, the original Marine flag of the United States, which carries the phrase ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’ Little did we know how appropriate our choice was and the meaning it would have over the last two years and continuing into our new term.”

Mayor Samansky told the Record that “major open items remaining to be resolved as we enter the new GNVOA year” include: final determination of how each of the nine member villages will dispose of solid waste; whether and when water pollution control issues (sewerage) will be finalized with a new sewerage treatment plant serving five of the nine villages and unincorporated areas; a determination of what renovation or other construction will occur at the library’s main branch and the costs involved; the creation and implementation of a comprehensive feral cat program; and the refurbishing of the Saddle Rock Grist Mill and the dredging of Udall’s Pond.”

And, “extremely important,” said Mayor Samansky, “is our continuing effort to object to and prevent the implementation of a new state law which is slated to go into effect in 2010 that enables the county or a small minority of persons to institute costly proceedings to consolidate or dissolve local government including our villages and special districts.”

Tacking issue by issue, Mayor Samansky returned to solid waste, explaining that the villages’ present solid waste agreement with the Town of North Hempstead will expire in May 2010. He further explained that “The villages, as successfully negotiated by the GNVOA and the NCVOA (Nassau County Village Officials Association), have the ability to go to the open market or contract with the town … that determination by each of the villages independently must initially be made by Dec. 1, 2009.”

Turning to the long drawn-out sewer issue, Mayor Samansky reported that the Great Neck Water Pollution District has filed plans with and received from the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) a negative declaration “ … which allows them to proceed with plans to construct a new, state of the art treatment plant on East Shore Road at the district’s present location.” He added that “The GNVOA and the five village mayors who are members of an advisory committee of the town will continue to work with the town supervisor and the sewer district to, after many years of negotiations and discussions, see the new sewer plant come to fruition.”

As for the Great Neck Library prospective building project, yet another long, drawn-out affair, Mayor Samansky gave the following statement: “The Great Neck Library continues its search for a viable solution to bring the main branch of the library up to date and ready for the future. That work has been going on for many years without resolution. Hopefully, with the GNVOA working with the Library Board toward a plan which will be for the benefit of the entire community, a reasonable and proper resolution will be reached.”

Turning to a town issue, Mayor Samansky said that the Town of North Hempstead has “promised to institute a comprehensive and viable feral cat program for the Great Neck peninsula.” Along these lines, he said that the GNVOA has offered its cooperation in working with the town and working towards “implementing inter-municipal agreements with the villages.” Mayor Samansky assured that the GNVOA “will continue to work toward the implementation of that program by the town.

The GNVOA has been involved in county issues too, including working very closely with Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth to have the county, which controls Udall’s Pond and the Saddle Rock Gristmill, repair and refurbish the areas involved. “These areas affect our entire community including, in particular, the villages of Saddle Rock, Great Neck and Kings Point as well as the unincorporated area of Saddle Rock Estates and the Great Neck Library, said Mayor Samansky, adding, “we will continue to support the wonderful work Legislator Bosworth has initiated and we will work with her to repair this historic site and environmental disaster.”

A major local concern, and a major GNVOA issue is the state’s new consolidation and dissolution legislation. Mayor Samansky offered a detailed explanation: “The New York State Legislature passed and the governor signed consolidation and dissolution legislation which will be effective next year that wrongfully attacks our villages and districts. The legislation was passed in a rush with every member of the state Senate who spoke for and against the bill as it was being entertained acknowledging that the bill needed to be amended. The GNVOA has taken the position that the law is unjust, unconstitutional, will cause major unnecessary costs to the taxpayer of local government and that it is an attempt by a county and state that is in serious financial straights to dip into the cash registers of our local governments and its residents. This law is about cash - not good or better government. We will take all appropriate action as this year unfolds to thwart the implementation of this very bad law. It is clear to us that neither the county nor the state can provide the services and benefits to our residents in a more efficient and cost-saving way. To the contrary, as proven by other actions, the county and state have not provided better service or cost savings. All that the state has done is add to unfunded mandates to avoid providing the moneys necessary to local government. The GNVOA will defend and support our member villages and the special districts, which serve our community. Great Neck is a model of inter-municipal cooperation and by that cooperation we have provided the most cost effective and finest service to our residents.”

Stating that really no one knows what awaits the community, and the GNVOA, in the year to come, Mayor Samansky promises that the GNVOA “will work diligently to improve emergency preparedness programs and communications among the villages,” including instituting “a courteous and safe driving campaign in Great Neck which we believe is long overdue.” He stated that “traffic law enforcement is not enough” and the GNVOA plans to initiate an educational safe driving program “that will make our drivers and pedestrians alike aware of the benefits of civil behavior on our public streets.” Additionally, the GNVOA, as a group, will work along with the individual villages to improve traffic.”

Looking forward to a full and productive year for the GNVOA, Mayor Samansky stated: “The work of the GNVOA will move forward to protect local government, keep it independent and work together to assist each government with its primary obligation of protecting the health, welfare and safety of its residents and community. The saying goes that the wheels of government grind on but they grind exceedingly slow. We will endure and be successful.”