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Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth

Huntington Town Hall File photo by Lina Weingarten

By  Sabrina Artusa

During the Huntington Town Board meeting on Nov. 2, town Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) and his staff reviewed the projected operational expenses budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

The $229 million budget, an increase of 4.09%, is designed for “revitalization and redevelopment,” as Smyth wrote in the budget. The heads of 10 offices reviewed their expenditures and accomplishments in 2023 with anticipated plans for 2024.

Peter Leodis, acting director of the town’s Audit & Control Department; Andre Sorrentino, superintendent of highways; and John Clark, director of Environmental Waste Management, among others, prepared presentations dissecting their predicted expenditures and their departments’ missions. 

Leodis said the town’s budget carries a 2.25% tax levy increase while not piercing the state tax cap. The average Huntington taxpayer is expected to pay $30 more for the four primary funds: the general, highway, part-town and consolidated refuse funds.

Leodis said many increases are due to “mandatory contractual increases like health services.” Sorrentino added that contractual increases account for almost 99% of his department’s total budget increase.

Don McKay, a Democratic candidate for Town Board, said, “I respectfully believe that some of the proposed revenues are not realistic but inflated.”

“I hope we are not going back to raising parking fees,” he added. 

James Ahrens, interim director of the Engineering Services Department, said his budget correlates with an “aggressive plan to address many projects,” some of which include the repair of the Long Island Rail Road parking garage, reconstruction of the Koster Park basketball courts in Huntington Station and renovation of various plants in the Dix Hills water district.

Huntington was awarded $1.25 million in funding from Suffolk County Jumpstart program for downtown parking and waterfront improvements. 

Last year, the town received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. 

McKay also voiced concern over how the capital budget has previously been utilized, saying that two projects have been overlooked and have “gone nowhere.”

In addition to budget discussion, Angelo Santomauro and Bruce Smith spoke in support of a proposal to apply a partial property tax exemption for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, a perk Santomauro said “will become so important in our efforts to recruit.” The tax cut would be applied only to those who have put in two-to-five years of service. 

The council also authorized the supervisor to approve programs benefiting the developmentally disabled and to collaborate with the New York Rangers for a girls hockey program.

The next board meeting will be Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.


Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, at podium, joined elected officials at the Jan. 20 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Local elected officials held a press conference Friday, Jan. 20, to make it clear that they don’t agree with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) New York Housing Compact proposal.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, at podium, joined elected officials at the Jan. 20 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Republican state senators and assemblymembers, county legislators and town supervisors from Suffolk County gathered at the Perry B. Duryea State Office Building in Hauppauge with a message for Hochul. The elected members speaking at the press conference said zoning, land use and development matters are best left to local elected officials.

In her State of the State message earlier this month, Hochul proposed a housing strategy calling for 800,000 new homes to be built in the state over the course of a decade to address the lack of affordable housing. Among the plan’s requirements would be municipalities with Metropolitan Transportation Authority railroad stations to rezone to make way for higher-density residential development. All downstate cities, towns and villages served by the MTA would have a new home creation target over three years of 3%, compared to upstate counties that would need to build 1% more new homes over the same period.

But speakers on Jan. 20 called her proposed initiative “government overreach” and “misguided,” and they said municipalities should create zoning laws, grant building permits and urban plans based on the individual needs of their communities. Many added that a blanket state housing proposal wouldn’t work on Long Island due to lack of sewer systems, also infrastructure and environmental concerns.

The press conference was led by state Sen. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue).

“We all agree that we have an affordable housing problem,” he said. “What we don’t agree on is how to fix it.”

He added, “The governor apparently believes that one size fits all is the way to go, that heavy-handed mandates are the way to go.”

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, at podium, joined elected officials at the Jan. 20 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Murray said the Village of Patchogue is the model of revitalizing villages and downtowns across the state. He added local issues must be considered, such as environmental concerns, traffic issues and parking options. He said Patchogue officials worked to rebuild the village’s infrastructure, invested in and expanded sewer plants, repaved 85% of its streets, invested into pools, parks and the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Murray added 700 new residential homes were built since 2003, 575 of them are within walking distance from the train station and village.

Town supervisors speak up 

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said they were all concerned about what Long Island will look like in the future. He added there is a need for sewer systems in most towns, and local infrastructure needs improvement. He said the three rail lines that cross the town depend on diesel fuel, and he added overgrowth has also contaminated the waters.

“Governor, before you start talking about more housing, how about the infrastructure to support it?” Romaine said. “How about electrifying the rail? How about making sure the roads work? How about making sure that there are sewers?”

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said the town is manufacturing affordable housing “to the extent it’s possible” based on its infrastructure.

In the last five years, he said the town has approved the construction of 450 rental units, 10% of which are classified as affordable per state law.

Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth, at podium, joined elected officials at the Jan. 20 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“The only elected officials that know how to do that on Long Island are your local elected officials with the help of our county, state and federal officials as well,” Wehrheim said. “So, we are doing what the governor wants, but we’re doing it the right way.”

Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) said New York politics “is not Republican vs. Democrat. It’s New York City versus New York state.” He said the governor is affected by New York City extremists. 

“I implore the governor to form a working coalition of centrist Democrats and centrist Republicans in the state Legislature to govern from the center as the vast majority of New Yorkers expect of you,” Smyth said.

Additional perspectives

State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said when he hears the governor talk about local control, he feels she is aligning with the progressive left. He added “everything they touch they destroy,” listing the economy, energy independence and the southern border.

“They want to destroy our local zoning, and they will destroy what makes Long Island and New York state the wonderful place to live that it is,” Fitzpatrick said. “Local control works, and we seek a cooperative relationship, a carrot approach rather than the stick approach that she is putting before us.”

Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, also spoke at the press conference. He acknowledged there is a housing problem on the Island and said the town supervisors have provided hope with past projects.

“They have been behind getting affordable housing in their communities,” Alexander said, adding 20,000 units of multihousing have been approved on Long Island over the past 17 years.

According to Alexander, 10,000 more units are coming down the pike, and 50 communities have had buildings built near transit stations.

State Assemblyman Keith Brown (R-Northport), who has been a zoning attorney for more than 20 years, in an interview after the press conference said incentives and funding are needed.

He said Brookhaven’s Commercial Redevelopment Districts are excellent zoning examples of redevelopment and multifamily houses where there are incentives such as being near transportation and connecting to sewers.

State Assemblyman Jonathan Kornreich, at podium, joined elected officials at the Jan. 20 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“Those are the incentives that we should be talking about, not creating super zoning boards, and more bureaucracy,” Brown said.

In a statement to TBR News Media, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who was a former president of the Three Village Civic Association, said, “We have to be wise enough to recognize that the land under which our aquifers sit can only bear so much development.”

He gave the example of a parcel of land in Port Jefferson Station on Route 112 and near the train station. The large, vegetated parcel has restrictive covenants to limit the type of development on the site.

“This place is a vital area of green space, where trees can grow, where oxygen is produced and where rainwater is filtered before it goes down to the aquifers we drink from,” he said. “The governor’s proposal would throw all that planning out the window and turn this into a potential development site for hundreds of new units.”

Former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who was chair of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee between 2015 and 2022, attended the press conference and in a phone interview said, “This is a proposal that attempts to meet one need, but has a likely outcome, if advanced, of completely overriding environmental concerns. Our first limiting factor for sustainable communities is the environment, in particular water — drinking water.”

He added the proposal to increase the density of housing not only overrides local planning but threatens communities’ quality of life.

He added, for example, a village such as Poquott wouldn’t be able to build more housing as it’s “essentially a completely built-out community.” Or, a hamlet such as St. James wouldn’t be able to add more housing near the train station.

“If you impose from above a mandate to change the land use, you’re basically impacting the environment immediately and, for the long term, the quality of life of a community,” he said.

Englebright and current elected officials are concerned that the housing legislation would be included in the state budget similar to bail reform.

Hochul’s administration has said more information on the housing proposal will be released in the near future.

'Sublime', Anne Frank Garden Memorial by Thea Lanzisero
Ceremony to Feature Second Generation Survivor, Holocaust Education Advocate Gail Sheryn Kastenholz 

Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth will host the Town of Huntington’s 11th Annual Anne Frank Memorial Garden Ceremony on Wednesday, June 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Anne Frank Memorial Garden at Arboretum Park on Wilmington Drive (between Threepence Drive and Roundtree Drive) in Melville.

The Anne Frank Memorial Garden symbolically captures the journey of Anne Frank’s life.  It features a circular pathway that surrounds a garden, which leads to the sculpture of a young girl’s dress.  The Memorial Garden serves as tribute to Anne’s legacy of wisdom and genuine belief in the goodness of mankind and human nature, despite the ugliness of war and discrimination.   

 Program participants include Rabbi Beth Klafter of Temple Beth David in Commack, Rabbi Yakov Saacks of The Chai Center in Dix Hills, musical selections by Hazzan (Cantor) Steven Walvick of the East Northport Jewish Center; and remarks from guest speaker Gail Sheryn Kastenholz, a Huntington Station resident, Second Generation Survivor and Holocaust education advocate.  

Attendees of the Anne Frank Memorial Garden anniversary celebration may take a walk through the garden following the program and will be offered light refreshments, donated by Suffolk County Legislator Manuel Esteban.

For more information, 631-351-3000.

Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth, Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman and Town officials were joined by Covanta and local students to plant 200 donated trees at Koster Park in Huntington Station for Arbor Day on April 29. 

“It is so important to maintain our tree canopy; it adds shade, which reduces the need for artificial cooling, and it filters stormwater runoff to stop contaminants from entering our water supply,” said Supervisor Ed Smyth. “Thank you to Covanta and our anonymous donor, as well as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Huntington High School honor students for your dedication to preserving our green space, this is our largest Arbor Day turnout yet!” 

“I’m proud to celebrate Arbor Day with Supervisor Smyth, many of our local Scouts, students and Covanta with the planting of trees at Koster Park, one of the many hidden jewels of Huntington,” said Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman. 

“We are once again delighted to partner with the Town of Huntington and Supervisor Smyth to plant trees in honor of Arbor Day.  Initiatives like this one are so important to preserving Long Island’s natural resources. We are grateful to our municipal leaders for joining with us as great environmental stewards,” said Maureen Early, Senior Community Affairs Specialist for Covanta. Joining the event from Covanta were Asset Manager Dawn Harmon and Shari Kleinman from the Covanta Huntington Facility. 

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and students from the Huntington High School Honor Society helped plant bare root saplings at the park. 

“Members of the Girl Scouts of South Huntington are honored to be a part of the Town of Huntington Arbor Daytree planting at Koster Park. The girls will expand their knowledge about caring for the environment, using resources wisely and making the world a better place,” said Catherine Galli, Coordinator for Girl Scouts Service Unit 12 in South Huntington, who was joined by Troop Leaders Christine Reilly, Bonnie Millman, Kristie Mondo, LeeAnne Ramirez and Wendy Aull with Girl Scouts from Service Unit 12, including Junior Troop 161, Daisy Troop 32 and 74, and Brownie Troop 703 to help plant bare root saplings.  

Boy Scouts Troop 34 Scoutmaster Mike Fasciano and Assistant Scoutmaster Dominic Dutton were joined by Boy Scouts from Troop 34 for the tree planting.  

“The Cub Scouts are all about having fun with a purpose,” said Scott Wallick, Cubmaster for Pack 406 of South Huntington. “There is a reason for everything our boys and girls do in Cub Scouting, and today’s events will help them ‘think globally’ and ‘act locally’ to preserve and improve our environment. We are grateful to have been a part of the Town of Huntington’s Arbor Day tree planting.” Cub Scouts Pack 406 Assistant Pack Leader Jennifer Rodriguez was joined by Cub Scouts from Pack 406 to plant trees at the event. 

Joining the event from the Town’s Department of Planning and Environment to teach the students about the trees and demonstrate how to plant the bare root saplings were Christian Granelli, Elana Israel-Edgar, Dave Kaufman and Vincent Cerniglia.  

 From the Department of Parks and Recreation, Director Todd Jamison and Deputy Director Walter Edwards joined the event with Town Volunteer Parks Stewards David Lesser and Christopher Zonin. 

The ceremony involved the planting of a Caliper Pin Oak donated by Covanta and 200 additional bare root saplings consisting of 25 each of Flowering Dogwood, Highbush Cranberry, Buttonbush, Ninebark, Black Chokeberry, Virginia Rose, Witch Hazel, and Winterberry donated anonymously to the Town of Huntington to commemorate Arbor Day; the Town Board accepted the donations at their April 12 meeting.

Town of Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth (R) will run for supervisor this November. Photo from Huntington Republican Committee

Last election cycle, former Town of Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth (R) decided to make a change. Instead of running for the seat he held for four years, he aimed for supervisor after Chad Lupinacci (R) decided not to run for reelection in 2021.

Smyth said being supervisor is slightly different from being a councilman. He said while as councilman he needed to read through agendas and weigh options, now he has to start the process earlier, taking into consideration more details in the process such as was there a bidding process or an RFP done.

“It’s your obligation to create most of the resolutions and agendas and know what’s going into them and understand why they’re being put on the timetable,” he said.

Smyth said Lupinacci leaves behind significant accomplishments while in office including resolving the LIPA lawsuit and enacting term limits. Smyth also complimented the former supervisor on how well he guided the community through the early stages of the pandemic and shutdowns, adding there was no playbook to follow.

“There were never any cuts to essential services in the town, and we never had to pierce the tax cap or anything like that,” he said.

Less than two weeks in office, Smyth said he has already had to tackle issues brought on by COVID-19.

“One of the first things we’re trying to do is put together a COVID policy that tracks more closely to the CDC policies or guidance without violating New York State’s regulations,” he said.

The town supervisor added that the council found that both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s policies weren’t coherent and sometimes the two policies were conflicting with each other, especially regarding how many days to isolate after being exposed to the virus with no symptoms. In the end, he feels a good policy was established for town employees which will be helpful in the future.,

He said the town’s Senior Center was already affected in the new year by COVID-related staffing shortages. The center was closed to the public the second week of January; however meals were able to be delivered to residents.

Smyth also is looking forward to working with the building department and implementing new systems. He said the town is fortunate to have new councilman Sal Ferro (R) who has been in the construction trade for decades and is CEO of Alure Home Improvements. Smyth also said a priority is supporting local businesses and attracting more to the area.

Infrastructure is also on his mind with a new sewer system in Huntington Station. At the end of the year, Lupinacci and County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced a partnership between the town and county, where both municipalities would invest $22 million to fund the Huntington Station Hub Sewer Project, which is the first one to be funded under Suffolk’s newly created Wastewater Infrastructure Fund. Money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act made the funding possible.

According to the town, approximately 229 parcels near Huntington’s Long Island Rail Road station and south along Route 110, as well as some commercial blocks of Depot Road and industrial land along the train tracks, will be connected to the sewer.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous economic benefit to Huntington Station over the next five to 10 years, simply because, as everywhere on Long Island, if you’re not on sewers, you’re frozen in time for development,” the town supervisor said. “If we can get those lines completed, up and running sooner rather than later, it’s going to bring a tremendous amount of capital investment into the Huntington Station area, plus the environmental benefits of doing it.”

When asked what advice he would give new council members Ferro and Dave Bennardo (R), Smyth said, “Stay grounded in the community and attend as many local events as you possibly can.”

He said there’s no substitute for attending events as it gives elected officials the opportunity to hear directly from constituents.

“I would say that’s how we find out about 90% of the issues that are going on in the town that somebody in the community proactively approaches one of our five Town Board members or somebody who works with the town: ‘Hey, listen, we have a problem over here.’ There’s a drainage problem or a loitering problem or there’s an abandoned house problem or there are cars parked here that haven’t moved in two years. Just all sorts of day-to-day quality of life issues.”

Smyth said he doesn’t have any issues with Councilman Eugene Cook (I) who ran against him for supervisor. He compared it to an NHL game, “where the fights are real but you leave it on the ice. You don’t take it to the locker room.”

He said they agree on 95% of issues that come before the town, and they “hit the reset button” when they saw each other two days after the election and have had no problems working together.

Now, Smyth has his mind on the town’s future.

“It’s my goal to make Huntington the economic epicenter of Long Island,” he said. “I think it’s going to take the infrastructure to do that, to build out our existing businesses and to attract new ones. I want, when Russell 2000 companies or even Fortune 500 companies are looking to relocate to the Northeast and they say, ‘Let’s go to Long Island,’ the first place they stop is Huntington.”