Tags Posts tagged with "Huntington Town Board"

Huntington Town Board

The proposed plan for the assisted living facility in Huntington Station. Photo from Sunrise Development Inc.

By Victoria Espinoza

The sun seems set to rise on a new assisted living facility in Huntington Station.

Last week the Huntington town board unanimously approved a zone change for a 5.7 acre property on Jericho Turnpike and West Hills Road owned by Sunrise Development, Inc.

The land, located at 300 West Hills Road, is currently in a residential zone, and will be changed to a residential health services district to allow for the developer to create a two-story, 90-unit structure with 136 beds. After meetings with the town planning board, the developer has agreed to changes including staff shift changes timed to avoid peak traffic with the nearby Walt Whitman High School, “significant” landscape buffers between the facility and residences, and more.

At the May town board meeting, at least 10 residents that will neighbor the facility came to speak in support of the plan, though other residents came to oppose it.

According to the applicant, they held three community meetings as well as individual meetings with residents to hear their concerns and ideas to help make the facility the best it could be for the entire neighborhood.

Priscilla Jahir, a 34-year South Huntington resident was one of those speaking in opposition.

“I have no personal vendetta against seniors as I am one,” she said at the meeting. “I oppose the increase in traffic on West Hills Road, both during the 14-month-plus construction time and afterword as any increase in traffic will be a hardship to anyone traveling along that route. I feel that this facility is better suited for a larger access road.”

Diane Tanko presented a petition asking for a reduction in the size of the plan before granting them a zoning change.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said the main traffic contributors are expected to be the employees, not the residents who will live at the facility.

“If you reduce units you’re not really reducing traffic generation,” Cuthbertson said. “The people living there are generally not driving.”

Tanko responded that visitors also increase traffic, but Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said “sadly,” there were not many visitors at the other locations during the several times of the day she went to track the traffic and fullness of the parking lots.

Kevin McKenna, a South Huntington resident said he was in favor of the plan.

“I have two kids that attend Walt Whitman High School and I pass this location at least twice a day,” he said at the meeting. “I attended an informational meeting for the project set up by Sunrise and I walked away very impressed with the plan and the measures they’re taking with bringing the project to the neighborhood.”

He said he appreciated specifically how Sunrise intends to exceed setback measures for houses and fund landscape dividers at houses near the property.

Thomas Newman, a third-generation Peach Tree Lane resident said he’s seen the area change throughout the years and supports this change.

“After 25 years of being in the business of architecture and seeing their [Sunrise] designs, I think it would be an asset to our community,” he said. “I’d be happy to have my kids live fourth-generation on that street with this.”

Arthur Gibson, president of Plumbers Local Union 200, spoke in support of the plan.

“They’ve built I believe 15 similar units on Long Island, and they’ve consistently used a contractor…meaning local jobs for local people,” Gibson said at the meeting. “There’s so many times, I could tell you horror story after horror story where our contractors don’t get paid. Sunrise Senior Living, they pay their bills, and that’s very important for a construction man or woman on Long Island.”

The company said they are “negotiating in good faith” with the union currently for the job.

Image from Airbnb

Huntington residents came to clear the air at a town board meeting Jan. 11, after Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) scheduled a public hearing for a resolution to ban the use of short-term rentals like Airbnb in the town.

In the resolution, the town sought to regulate temporary rental properties in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of Huntington residents. The town board “finds the increase in residential homes being rented for short periods of time detrimentally affects the quality of life in the neighborhoods in which they occur,” according to the resolution.

Residents spoke in opposition to the resolution during the hearing.

“I started hosting for economic reasons but have found it to be a very positive experience,” Michael Krasowitz, a Huntington Station resident said. “I feel like I’m an ambassador for the Town of Huntington. When they come I take them in my car, I drive them around, I show them the beaches, the restaurants, and they appreciate that — to learn about the town. For me it’s a way of engaging new people. So far it’s been a positive experience and the people have really enjoyed it.”

Alison Rexler, a former Walt Whitman resident, said Airbnb is more than just an enjoyable way to spend time for her — it’s a necessity to survive.

“I was planning on purchasing my own home and unfortunately my mortgage fell through and I found myself basically homeless,” she said at the meeting. “I have been unable to find a lease in an apartment that would rent for less than a year. Airbnb is my only solution. I have a daughter I would like to be able to visit. I have cats I would like to be able to visit. I have family and friends here. Airbnb has allowed me to stay with my family and friends and stay within the community. Without it I don’t know where I’d be but truly homeless at the moment. It is serving a need that you cannot anticipate.”

Janet Bernardo, a Fort Salonga resident, said her guests help contribute to an increase in revenue for small businesses.

“I am so excited I get to share my space, my home, my view, the marshland, the preserve, all the local stores that my guests go to,” she said. “I can’t imagine any of the local shop owners have any concerns about all these additional people coming into the town. I can’t figure out why the town would want to put a ban on it.”

Before the public hearing, Cuthbertson said he created this proposal in reaction to concerns from residents.

“It came about because of a number of constituent complaints we had received,” he said. “I asked the town attorneys office to draft legislation and frankly the easiest way to draft that legislation was in the most restrictive manner which is a ban.”

He said the town can always reduce the amount of restrictions, but it’s easier for the town to start at a full ban and work its way backward.

“I have a very open mind about something less than a ban,” he said. “We’re here to weigh the quality of life concerns of transient rentals and off street parking and really balance them against I’m sure some of the very good arguments.”

According to the company’s website, Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book housing accommodations around the world for varying lengths of time.

After hearing reactions from the public, Cuthbertson said he is willing to consider drafting legislation that is not an outright ban.

“Based on the valuable public input we received, I am considering measures that would regulate Airbnb operations instead of banning them all together,” he said in an email. “The town needs to pass legislation that strikes a balance between someone who plays ‘host’ to sharing their residence versus someone who operates as the equivalent of a hotelier. Public safety and quality of life issues will also play an integral part of this legislation.”

No decision has been reached regarding going forward with a ban.

Supervisor Frank Petrone. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Huntington Town board members approved a cap-piercing $191 million budget that was strongly supported by residents when it was first proposed in September.

The 2017 budget maintains town services at current levels and calls for a 2.85 percent tax levy increase, which will net the town about $2.2 million more in revenue than the 0.68 percent state-mandated tax levy cap set this year.

According to the town, the tax levy is projected to increase by $3.2 million to $117.7 million, which would cost residents approximately $18 to $30 more per household this year.

The cap limits tax levy increases to the rate of inflation or 2 percent. However, it can be overridden by a  60 percent super majority vote by the town board.

If we cut [funding] down, Huntington suffers. It’s not just going to a museum and seeing one less painting. It’s millions of dollars out of the pockets of local residents.” —Ken Katz

Town board members voted unanimously to approve the budget Sept. 27, after listening to many community members urge the town to pierce the cap in order to continue funding for social, youth and art programs.

Jolena Smith, a Huntington High School student and member of the Tri Community Youth Agency — a not-for-profit organization that offers educational, recreational, social, cultural, athletics, counseling and advocacy programs for the town’s youth — became emotional when speaking about why it’s so important to her that the board pierces the cap this year and maintains Tri CYA funding.

“The Tri CYA provides all types of programs, services and activities to the youth that don’t have other choices or places to go,” she said at the meeting. “I’ve been coming to the Tri CYA for as long as I can remember, and it means a lot to me. The staff is an extended family. The Tri CYA helps kids stay off the streets. It helped me be the person I am today.”

Ken Katz, a Huntington resident and member of the board of directors at the Cinema Arts Centre, also talked about how crucial funding from the town is for the survival of the CAC, a nonprofit organization that helps provide programs for students and seniors, as well as supporting local businesses.

“It’s not just a couple of bucks less for culture and arts,” he said. “If we cut [funding] down, Huntington suffers, not the Cinema Arts Centre. It’s not just going to a museum and seeing one less painting. It’s millions of dollars out of the pockets of local residents.”

In order to stay within the state-mandated tax levy increase cap, not only would Huntington have to cut youth and arts programs, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) also said they would have to lay off employees — a move he said residents would feel the effects of in the form of reduced service, maintenance and hours at town facilities and longer waits at Town Hall.

“While I concur with the fundamental concept behind the cap … I do believe there needs to be modification of the language in the current legislation, so that the unintended consequence of limiting growth and new initiatives is eliminated,” Petrone said in a statement.

The supervisor also talked about the challenge with requirements to fund federal and state-mandated expenses that the board has no control over.

“I wish to thank my fellow board members, who continue to work with me by taking the prudent, fiscally responsible steps that have enabled me to submit this budget,” he said. “[It’s] a budget that serves residents well by maintaining the current level of services and increasing the tax levy only by that amount required to fund federal and state-mandated expenses, which are wholly outside the control of the town board.”

Huntington Town Board candidates Gene Cook, Jennifer Thompson, Keith Barrett and Susan Berland talk issues at a debate in Elwood on Oct. 14. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Town Board candidates discussed development, term limits and more at a debate at the Elwood Public Library hosted by the Elwood Taxpayers Association on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Two seats are up for grabs on the five-member board next month, and four contenders are in the running for the slots. Councilman Gene Cook (I) and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) are both seeking re-election. Newcomers Jennifer Thompson, a Republican, and Keith Barrett, a Democrat, are looking for a first term.

In his opening statement, Cook said that he is such a strong believer in term limits that if he gets elected in November, he would “term-limit” himself voluntarily, pledging it would be his last run for the seat.

“It’s tough for those people to run that have never run before,” Cook said. “It’s an unfair advantage.”

Cook asked if every other candidate also believed in term limits and both Thompson and Barrett said they did.

“I think that most people come into office with the best of intentions, but the longer you’re there, the more susceptible you are to corruption,” Thompson said. “I do think that there also is benefit to having fresh perspectives and new ideas.” She also said that campaign funding is an uphill battle and incumbents make it a “David and Goliath situation” where it is very difficult for newcomers to raise matching amounts of funds.

Berland, however, said she does not believe in term limits.

“I believe elections are the best term limits,” she said. “If people want you to continue doing the job you’re doing, they’ll vote for you. If they’d rather have someone else do the job, they’ll vote for someone else.”

The most popular question of the night regarded the The Seasons at Elwood, and what each candidate’s opinion was of the project. The Seasons is a planned 256-unit condominium housing community geared towards residents 55 and older.

Cook said his opinion is on the town’s records, because he was the only town council member to vote against the project, which required a change of zone.

“When 5,500 residents who signed a petition against it and said ‘We don’t want it,’ I was right there behind you,” Cook said.

Barrett asked if it really matters what he thinks of the Seasons at Elwood. “How many of you don’t want it?” Barrett asked and the audience responded overwhelmingly that they did not. “Well then you got my answer.” Barrett also said he would have liked to see more community involvement before the project gained approval.

“I’d like to see somebody from the community and the development being involved,” Barrett said. “There is compromise for everything. We have to work on this more as a community and not ramming it down peoples’ throats.”

Thompson countered that she does think it matters what she thinks of this issue. “I will stand with this community and vote against it,” Thompson said.

Berland voted in favor of the project.

“It was a project that I supported because it’s senior housing and there are a lot of seniors who want to continue to live here,” Berland said. “They ended up with a high density number significantly lower than when they started. I think that [the Greens at Half Hollows] has been an amazing economic boom and I’m hoping that the Seasons will end up being the same.”

Some audience members continued to grill her on why she’d vote the project when many residents were against it.

“There were petitions in favor and in opposition,” Berland said. “They were a large number of people in and outside the Elwood community who welcome senior housing. I vote what I think is best for the people of the town and I don’t think this will hurt the people of the town.”

When asked for three items each candidate would prioritize if elected, Thompson started with safety in Huntington Station.

“We deserve the opportunity to walk our streets and feel safe.” Her other two priorities are making sure water quality remains clean and keeping taxes low. Barrett said he’d prioritize cleaning up criminal activities in Huntington Station. He also said parking in Huntington village is a big problem.

“Parking is a big issue because you can’t go down there and buy a slice of pizza without spending a couple bucks on parking,” Barrett said. His third issue is spending. He said he would like to broaden the scope of certain town department to get Huntington taxpayers the best bang for their bucks.

Cook brought up the shock he felt when he learned the news of Maggie Rosales, an 18-year old who died after she was stabbed in Huntington Station last year. Cook said he went to Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) with a plan to put public safety cars on the road, and link them up with 2nd Precinct to help cut crime. He also said he would like to challenge the some of the numbers in the supervisor’s budget. “I never once voted for Frank Petrone’s budget.”

All the candidates were unanimous on the issue of the ongoing litigation between Huntington Town and the Long Island Power Authority. The utility is suing the town to recover some $270 million in property taxes it paid since 2010, arguing the aging Northport power plant is grossly over-assessed.

Berland said she has been totally in favor of the litigation since day one.

“I think LIPA has to keep with the agreement that they made from the beginning that they would not ask for reassessment,” Berland said. She also said that Cook was the only vote against the litigation and that he wanted to settle instead, and that is something she strongly disagrees with.

Cook said he voted against initiating litigation because he was told if the town loses, Huntington could be on the hook for a large sum of money. He has since changed his stance — he said he believes at this point it is past negotiations and that they have to fight.

Barrett is in favor of fighting LIPA, and Thompson, who voted on the school board to put the district into the court battle, said she still strongly is for the litigation.

The next debate between the candidates will be sponsored by the League of Women Voters. It will take place at Harborfields Public Library on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at 31 Broadway in Greenlawn.

Huntington town board votes to allow bow hunting of animals

Some Eaton’s Neck residents have set their sights on terminating deer through bow hunting. Stock photo

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to amend town code to allow bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The board’s move was in response to Eaton’s Neck residents’ concerns of deer overpopulating their communities. Residents there have told town officials that they believe the animals have contributed to increased car accidents, tick-borne illnesses and a downgrade in their community’s quality of life.

“I think the Town Board did a great job in recognizing the fact that we have a problem,” Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident and president of Eaton Harbors Corp., said in a phone interview. “It’s a fantastic decision. It took the courage of the board to make this difficult decision.”

The decision comes after a heated summer-long debate, with some residents strongly in favor of this resolution, and others staunchly against it.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that this resolution takes the town’s firearms legislation, and amends it to include deer hunting with bows on private property with the approval of the property owner after the hunter has obtained a DEC permit.

Deer hunting season is just around the corner, starting on Oct. 1 and ending Jan. 31.

The supervisor said that homeowners themselves would go in and decide how they want to handle hiring a hunter to shoot deer on their property.

“We’ve gotten community groups and civic groups involved,” Petrone said. The groups will help find someone qualified, a deer hunter or deer hunter group, to come in. He called it a safety measure, so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

Deer hunters need to be approved by residents before they hunt on the residents’ private property. Petrone said hunters would most likely have to sign something like a release before hunting.

Also, in a separate resolution, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a law to introduce a deer management program.

Petrone said he recognizes that some residents say that bow hunting is not favorable, and that they are more interested in a method to reduce deer numbers through using contraceptives. He said he’s been researching annual contraceptive drugs, which require tagging deer, tranquilizing them and following up every year. He has also learned of a drug called GonaCon, a contraceptive drug that would only have to be given once. The company that is offering this drug would actually pay for this drug, because they want it to be used, according to Petrone.

“A deer management program will provide for various alternatives,” Petrone said. “One of the things that’s really being looked at is the contraception concept.”

Other ideas being reviewed are herding programs, to help round up deer; and getting a count of how many deer there actually are in the area.

“What this is, is we’ve started the process because there is a need to begin,” Petrone said about the mission of the management program. “Let’s now get into sophisticating this as a real management program.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) supported all the bills on the deer issue.

“I recognize the seriousness of this issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck,” she said in a phone interview.

In terms of the deer management program, Berland said, “It’s a natural second half of this.”

“I think we need to look into deer management — we need a long-term plan. Not everybody wants hunting on their property. We have to appeal to everyone,” she said.

File photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington members of the Working Families Party have spoken.

Keith Barrett is the town’s deputy director of general services. Photo from Barrett
Keith Barrett is the town’s deputy director of general services. Photo from Barrett

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Democrat Keith Barrett swept a Working Families Party primary election on Sept. 10, earning the line in a race for the Huntington Town Board in November.

Barrett came in first place, receiving about 47 percent, or 205 votes, and Berland garnered nearly 31 percent of the votes, or 133 votes.

The two trumped contenders Charles Marino, who got about 21 percent, or 91 votes, and husband-wife duo Richard Hall and Valerie Stingfellow, who combined got fewer than 10 votes, though the two declared they were no longer actively campaigning and urged their supporters to throw their votes behind Marino.

The primary election upholds the Working Families Party endorsements of Barrett and Berland. Emily Abbott, the party’s Long Island political director, said in a previous email that Berland and Barrett both “share our values and support our key legislative issues like raising the minimum wage and passing paid family leave.”

When reached on Friday, Berland said she was happy with the results.

Susan Berland is seeking reelection to the Huntington Town Board. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Susan Berland is seeking reelection to the Huntington Town Board. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“It feels very gratifying,” Berland said in a phone interview. “My record proves I’ve always supported the Working Families Party and I will continue to do so.”

The councilwoman said she has received the party’s support every time she ran for office since her second campaign.

Barrett didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Friday, but the Huntington resident said in a previous interview, “I come from a working family. I’m a union guy, a blue-collar worker. I’ve always been in the working guys shoes.”

Marino, Hall and Stringfellow did not immediately return requests seeking comment.

Cops say arrests are up and recent violence gang-related

Christina Fudenski, a Greenlawn resident, speaks with police officer Angela Ferrara at South Huntington Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Residents of Huntington are calling for an increase in staffing at the Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct in the wake of three separate shootings that occurred in less than a month.

Deputy Inspector William Read assured community members gathered at South Huntington Public Library on Wednesday, Aug. 13, that the police force is completely competent in its current size, but residents were not convinced.

“We want to ask for outside help,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident said. “We can’t go on this way, our kids are being shot at.”

Luis Hernandez, 21, Aaron Jolly, 18, and Nelson Hernandez, 22, all survived shootings in the Huntington Station and Greenlawn area in late July and August. Luis Hernandez and Jolly both suffered from gunshot wounds to their legs, and Nelson Hernandez was shot in the back.

“What we’re doing is working, our program is effective, and crime stats are down dramatically,” Read said. “We are having success, but it can’t be 100 percent.”

The police associate many of the recent problems in the area with gangs, and Read said that gang cops have been out undercover investigating these cases constantly. He said there are a number of social programs combatting gang issues as well.

But the crowd argued that not enough is being done, and that more problems are arising.

Lisa MacKenzie, a Huntington resident, asked what the police are doing about the ongoing problem of intoxicated individuals passing out in the streets in Huntington Station.

“Why are these individuals taken to the hospital and not arrested?”

Officer Angela Ferrara explained that it is always the duty of the police and the standard procedure to treat someone medically first. She also noted that this has become a concern in many different areas in Huntington.

“What if I am on Depot Road in the future and hit [someone] who is intoxicated and attempting to cross the street, who will actually get in trouble then?” MacKenzie said. “We need drunk crossing signs, instead of deer crossing signs.”

Residents also complained about the how 911 dispatchers handle calls. Several said in the past, dispatchers have told them to either leave their car or house to get closer to a scene.

“They had the nerve to tell me to flag down one of the patrol cars when I called, and to get out of my car…this is putting the public at risk,” Nicholas Wieland, of The Huntingtonian news website, said. “You guys have some homework to do with the 911 service.”

Robert Finnerty, a Huntington Station resident, brought his son to the meeting, and said he is now afraid to go outside.

“We have people in the street across from us saying ‘I will shoot you in the street, I will kill you,’ and it’s scaring my son,” Finnerty said. He said the residents yelling this are people living in single dwelling homes occupied by five different families.

“We have to go after the overcrowded houses,” McGoldrick said. “It’s not fair to the police officers and fire firefighters. One of the biggest problems is how housing is handled in this town.”

As members of the audience agreed housing is a town issue, not a police one, the tone changed toward a desire to see a change in leadership in Huntington Town. Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (R) were both present at the meeting, as well as Huntington Town Board candidate Jennifer Thompson, a member of the Northport-East Northport school board.

Despite the criticism throughout the night, the 2nd Precinct deputy inspector defended the department’s work.

“We’re covering all our sectors, we’ve been doing it for years,” he said.

Town board, hospital ink helipad agreement

The SkyHealth team. Photo from Huntington Hospital

Huntington Hospital is flying high.

The town board on Tuesday approved a license agreement with the hospital to use a portion of the town’s parking facility adjoining Mill Dam Park as a helipad. The agreement spans from August to July 31, 2017.

With the helipad, the hospital will be air-transporting, via helicopter, patients in need of urgent or emergent care to the most appropriate health care facility to address their needs. The hospital will also transport “harvested organs to and from the Huntington Hospital,” according to the town board resolution.

“North Shore – LIJ Health System has developed a new air medical service program called SkyHealth, which is staffed by highly skilled medical professionals,” Randolph Howard, vice president of operations at Huntington Hospital said in a statement through a hospital spokeswoman. “Developing a heliport in Huntington provides a key location from which SkyHealth can transport critically ill patients who require immediate medical transportation. Through this heliport, SkyHealth will provide a vital service to the residents of the greater Huntington area.”

James Margolin, an attorney with the firm Margolin & Margolin, said the helipad already exists, but it is in need of an upgrade — one that the hospital will undertake.

“We thank the town board for its continuing commitment to getting the lifesaving community service into effect,” he said.

SkyHealth is a partnership with Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut and the North Shore- LIJ Health System. Patients of both health systems in need of lifesaving care for major traumas, heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening brain injuries will receive emergency medical care by helicopter and be quickly flown to the most appropriate hospital, according to the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s website.

The helicopter would be staffed with a nurse, a critical care paramedic, all certified in New York and Connecticut, and a pilot. That would be the “standard crew,” according to Gene Tangney, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of North Shore-LIJ in a SkyHealth promotional video.

Huntington Hospital will pay the town $14,062 upon the execution of the license agreement, and another $14,062 at the end of the agreement, according to the resolution.

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) requested quarterly reports from the hospital to ensure the volume is “consistent with what we agreed upon.” Margolin agreed to the request.

Board adopts swifter timelines for removal

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland's (D) proposal to speed up graffiti removal got the green-light this week. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Rules for dealing with graffiti in Huntington Town just got stricter.

The town board on Tuesday unanimously approved amendments to Town Code backed by Councilwoman Susan Berland (D). The changes create a faster process of all graffiti removal from both residential and commercial properties, and an even speedier timeline for removal of bias or hate graffiti.

Berland’s amendments were subject to a public hearing in early June.

“I’m very glad it passed, especially unanimously,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s important we have graffiti laws that will try to control this issue and also stop graffiti before it gets done.”

Residents of Huntington Town will now have 10 days after they receive a summons to remove graffiti from their property. If the 10 days expire and the graffiti has not been removed, the town can send Huntington Town General Services Department employees in to remove the graffiti. The resident will be charged for the cleanup fee, as well as a $250 administrative fee.

If the owner fails to play the cleanup bill within 30 days, the property will be added to a graffiti blight inventory, which would cost homeowners $2,500, and commercial property owners $5,000. Owners who do not pay the fee will have the bill become a lien on their property.

Berland is most excited about the section regarding graffiti containing hate speech.

“I think people agree that hate language should not be tolerated in any circumstance, so that’s a really important aspect for me,” Berland said.

The time frame is much shorter for graffiti with hate crime, with a total of three days to remove it once a property owner gets notice of violation, before the town takes action.

According to Berland, the amendment could become effective in about 45 days.

“Overall this will encourage owners of properties to make sure their properties are maintained properly,” Berland said.

Petrone: RFP for parking garage coming soon

The Huntington Town Board authorized a $1.6 million purchase of property to create 66 additional parking spaces in Huntington village. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington village’s parking pickle may soon become a little less of one.

On Tuesday, the town board green-lighted a $1.6 million purchase of property on West Carver Street to create about 66 new parking spaces in the village.

The board unanimously authorized Supervisor Frank Petrone or his representative to execute a contract to purchase a portion of the property at 24 West Carver St. from owner Anna Louise Realty II, LLC— right across the road from the New Street municipal parking lot. The money will be bonded for over a 10-year period, Petrone told reporters after the meeting.

It won’t be the only parking update in Huntington village this season. Petrone said the town is working with the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Station Business Improvement District to draft a request for proposals to build a parking garage in town — an idea town officials and residents have mulled for years.

“It’s a beginning,” Petrone said. “We made a commitment that parking is a continuum. We changed the meters. We have a different approach. We restriped, we added more spots, we redid lots. And now this is adding like 66 more additional spots, which is pretty substantial given the fact of the needs in the town.”

Town officials are hoping to get the RFP out by the end of summer, Petrone said. Asked where the structure would be sited, the supervisor said there have been discussions about locating it at the New Street lot, right across from the 66 additional spaces.

If a parking structure is to be built, it is likely current spots would be closed down in the construction process. Part of the idea of purchasing the 66 spaces would be to help mitigate parking during the building of a structure, he said.

Town officials had explored creating a parking facility on Elm Street for years. Those ideas aren’t dead, Petrone said, but the feeling is the town might be able to get more spots out of the New Street location. “We begin with New Street,” he said. “I’m not saying Elm will not be looked at.”

Petrone said the town’s been thinking up creative ways to finance a parking structure. Asked how the town would pay for such a facility, Petrone said it could be a private project, with the town providing the developer with a lease to the land, or it could be a public-private partnership. If a private entity were to come in, it would have to be worthwhile to them financially. To that end, he said “we’ve heard all sorts of ideas,” like building apartments or shops into the structure — properties that could be rented out. He said officials have also explored whether the cost of parking in the structure would suffice in terms of paying the debt service on the bond off.

The supervisor said he’s also weighed creating a parking district for the whole village area, with businesses paying into it, “because it’s the cost of doing business, it basically will provide better parking in the village.”

The chamber of commerce has “played an integral part in the push for increased parking options” in the town over the last three years, according to David Walsdorf, a chamber board member and member of the Huntington Village Parking Consortium.

“We view the parking challenge as a positive reflection of the growth and vitality of our flourishing businesses and we continue to support further improvement in our infrastructure to meet the needs and sustainability of our community,” he said in a statement.

Chamber chairman Bob Scheiner praised the news.

“The Huntington Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a part of this parking consortium and we fully support the supervisor and town board in this acquisition, which will go a long way to help the parking situation in downtown,” he said in a statement “The chamber looks forward to the release of the RFP and thanks the board for their efforts.”