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June 12, 2013

Politics Before Progress?


By Emily Toy

It would have taken about five minutes, but it ended up being 20.

Because of back and forth bickering between Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera, a presentation on a Riverside revitalization proposal became almost redundant.

Currently there's a draft designed to give some areas of Riverside a new face before the board.

According to Scalera, a sewer study and reconfiguration of a traffic circle were just some of the items she included in her proposal to help revive the hamlet. Throne-Holst, a member of the Riverside Economic Revitalization Task Force, was hot and bothered by the fact that Scalera had not discussed the proposal with her prior to Thursday's work session.

"I think it's a shame that we didn't hear about this," Throne-Holst said. "You should have approached us."

Scalera said she was disappointed that the supervisor thought she and the task force's work were being usurped, assuring Throne-Holst that wasn't the case at all.

"The shame is that you would call this a competing effort," Scalera said. "You're not being usurped. I'm not trying to usurp anybody."

The councilwoman said she wanted to get everyone's input on what they want to include in the proposal.

"I would hope we would all join together in this," she said. "I don't want politics to get in front of progress."

Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins noted the intent of the presentation was to reaffirm what the goals are and to develop strategies to meet them.

"This was a vehicle to start that conversation," Scalera added.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming asked Scalera if she was interested in hiring a private firm to do the task force's work. (Fleming is also a member.) Scalera said she wanted to have someone confirm the consensus, advise the town board and act as a moderator. It may not need to be a hired person, but it could be a possibility.

Throne-Holst added that much of what was in Scalera's proposal during the work session was discussed at monthly meetings of the task force in the past. Throne-Holst said Scalera never attended those meetings, even after she was invited repeatedly.

"So much of these substantive ideas have been discussed at the meetings," Fleming added.

Scalera said affirmative steps need to be taken to move this project forward.

"I'm offended you're taking a positive thing for the community and bringing it to this level," Scalera said to Throne-Holst. "I don't know why we're trying to make a distinction."

Collins said he would return to the board most likely next month to revisit the proposal.

Emily@indyeastend.com

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