Town of Smithtown councilmembers, Lynne Nowick (R) and Tom McCarthy (R), gathered on Friday with TBR News Media to discuss their running for reelection to the Town Board. Neither Democratic candidate, Dylan Rice or Marc Etts, accepted TBR’s invitation to join the debate.
Nowick is a lifelong resident of St. James and was a Suffolk County legislator in the 13th District for 12 years from 2002 until she was term limited. In January of 2014, she was elected to the Smithtown Town Board.
Before becoming a county legislator and councilwoman, she was Smithtown tax receiver for six years and worked in the court system for county court judge, Alfred Tisch (R). Explaining her love for her family and town, she has full confidence in making Smithtown a place where residents can have a quality of life.
Having a plethora of experience in what it’s like to be a Long Island resident, Nowick believes she has a pulse on the community and knows what residents need.
“When you’ve been a part of a town for so long, I think you know what people want,” she said. “I ran for the council not only because I love my town, but because I’m a doer and I like to work.”
McCarthy is also a native Long Islander and businessman, who has lived in Suffolk County for 30 years and in Smithtown for 15 years. He has worked in the automobile and marine industries before retiring in 2008.
He started his political career in 1997 when he noticed the town wasn’t resident-orientated and wanted to make changes for the better. McCarthy also serves as deputy town supervisor.
“It’s just a great town, it’s a great place to live and raise a family,” he said. “There was nothing out here when I was born and raised, but my grandparents found it because of Lake Ronkonkoma and would come out to the Island every weekend.”
The candidates spoke on their concerns with apartments, businesses during COVID-19 and the future of sewering the business districts.
Nowick said installing the sewer system in Kings Park is well on its way, and plans to use the potential Kings Park sewer system for the Town of Smithtown as well.
“We have signed requests to our Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) because we want her to be aware of how important this is,” Nowick said. “We know what we want, we just need the money.”
If the process of installing a sewering system in Kings Park, which would be placed near Kings Park Psychiatric Center, is successful, only two of the approximately 15 acres will be used for the project. The rest of the acreage will be preserved.
“We have three different options to go with the Lake Avenue mains,” McCarthy said. “One is a possible connection to Gyrodyne. Another possible connection is a piece of property we’ve looked at in Nesconset. The other possible connection is going down on 25A and picking up the pipe that goes farther west.”
Although the town cannot build a plant yet, the municipality is preparing for it.
COVID-19 and local businesses
Concerned for small businesses falling into a deeper pit of debt since the pandemic began, Nowick said there should be more programs and grants to aid them back to recovery.
“They’re hurting, there’s got to be more out there in the way of grant money,” she said. “I think it is incumbent upon us to try to the best of our ability to get the word out by making calls to our federal and state elected officials.”
Although introducing new businesses is important to the town, she said it’s important to protect the small businesses that have already been operating before the pandemic.
McCarthy noted that many of the small businesses got assistance from the government too late, and needed more help from the federal government while the pandemic was occurring.
“What we’re going to do going forward is that we are currently working on writing the code so the outdoor dining can continue during the winter,” he said.
Trying to make the process as easy as possible for businesses to apply for outdoor dining by signing a single sheet and having a fire marshal come to inspect the area, McCarthy plans to continue the ease of this process into the near future.
According to Nowick, sewers and quality of life are on the top of her budget list. Redeveloping and renovating 75 percent of the parks in Smithtown has been one of her many accomplishments.
“If you know this town, you know people want their parks and their beaches,” she said.
Having invested a substantial amount of money in the Daniel J. Flynn Memorial Park in Commack, by turning it into a park that is a state-of-the-art facility has helped create a small economic engine for the town.
“I believe in investing in quality of life, whether its parks or beaches or downtown,” she said.
Agreeing with Nowick, McCarthy said he’d like to see the budget spent on projects that will enhance residents’ lives in the town such as funding the highway department, which keeps Smithtown’s roads snow-free during the cold winter months.
“We’ve gone on a lease purchase now instead of buying the equipment, and letting it get old and then spending millions of dollars in repairs,” McCarthy said. “Now we keep getting new equipment and are even selling equipment right now because on a lease basis we can sell at any point, so we are actually getting more money than we paid for it.”
After speaking with the new apartment tenants located in Smithtown, McCarthy said he believes a majority of them have moved to the area within 10 miles of their original home.
He said most of the apartments are adjacent to the railroads, so young people can use the train to go to work in Manhattan.
“The city will come back,” he said. “It’s just going to take a substantial amount of time, probably more than a decade before it comes back based on the way it is right now. But more and more people will go back to the city and you have to be prepared for that.”
Adding that the apartments are necessary for the town, Nowick also pointed out that many single parents and people who have been divorced find refuge in the complexes and also bring in business to local shops.
“The young people, unfortunately, have to share with a roommate but at least we give them an opportunity if they want to stay by their family,” she said. “The apartments aren’t affordable, but if young people want to stay here they can’t afford [to buy] houses.”