June 07, 2006
Commissioner Visits Riverhead
New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Patrick Brennan made a surprise visit to the Riverhead Town Board last week to talk about New York State's agricultural laws.
The commissioner asked the town board to support the 30-year-old laws to help strengthen the North Fork's agricultural industry.
"We hope to work together with the town so that they can gain a better understanding of what the laws provide for," said Brennan.
The commissioner told the board that he has heard from many farmers who say they have had trouble getting through the town's approval process. For example, one North Fork farmer expressed concern about his attempt to acquire a permit for a greenhouse.
The town board agreed to cooperate with the commissioner and to participate in any future educational seminars and meetings.
Please Don't Make Us Pay
The promoters of a July 4 celebration scheduled for downtown Riverhead, pleaded with the town board to waive a $13,000 fee for town services, such as police protection and sanitation.
"We got this unanticipated bill four weeks before the event," said Nina Fenton, a consultant for the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, who added that if the town does not waive the fee, the event, which is deemed as a celebration of the revitalization of Riverhead, will not go off as planned.
Some board members agreed that the fees were prohibitive. "We are charging them almost $5000 an hour for police," said Councilman Ed Densieski, who questioned the fee and suggested having a talk with the police chief.
According to Supervisor Phil Cardinale's assistant Peggy Welsh, the police chief planned on having 17 officers on hand during the event.
"What?" questioned Cardinale. "Are we going to have police on the rooftops?"
Bob Kozakiewicz, attorney for the promoters, said that while the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons is asking for a break this time around, the group will pay for services next year.
According to Fenton, the event's budget has already been expended with $20,000 in sponsorship money going to purchase fireworks and advertising.
"We should have told them before about the fees," admitted Cardinale. Councilman John Dunleavy agreed.
The town board said it would discuss the matter at its next meeting and will provide a response as soon as possible.
If it goes off as planned, the festival will take place on the Fourth of July on the Peconic Riverfront. The celebration will feature Grucci fireworks, craft vendors, food, and amusement activities.
Downtown Revitalization Continues
"Downtown is still there and does not look better than it did last week," said Cardinale, who added that meetings with Apollo are continuing.
Cardinale, of course, was referring to yet another loss of business on Main Street: West Marine announced last week that it is moving from Main Street to Route 58.
Apollo, which has been contracted by the town to aid in the revitalization effort, however, says it is continuing with plans to rejuvenate Main Street with a multiplex, restaurants, and apartments.
Dumpster Debate Continues
The downtown dumpster debate is back on the town's board's table. Last week, Councilman George Bartunek announced that the parking district is on the verge of a solution.
According to Bartunek, the parking district is considering installing two dumpster corrals on Main Street, one on the east side and one on the west. The dumpsters would be emptied weekly by garbage carters who would be paid by the downtown business owners.
Supervisor Phil Cardinale said he is against the proposal, but said he would not stop town board members from pursuing it. Cardinale said he feels that the town board should not be involved in the downtown garbage program since it is incumbent on the business owners to get rid of their own garbage and that there are laws to deal with those who leave trash downtown.
Reclaiming the Land
The town board discussed its options in terms of what to do with the town's landfill, which is being reclaimed.
The town board hopes that once the land is void of all landfill material, it will be able to sell off the 40-acres. To accomplish that goal, the board remains set to send out a request for proposal for potential development proposals for the property. It plans to do so by June 21.
The town's justice court judges are asking that the town allow Suffolk County National Bank to set up a credit card payment system in the town's Justice Court for fines and surcharges. The bank says it can set up a system for a fee of two percent of all the fines and surcharges paid.
The decrease in revenue to pay the bank, said the judges, is justified by a greater ability for residents to pay fines with the option to use a credit card. The net take, said the judges, will be greater.
The town board agreed to consider the proposal, but only if the justice court judges provide information on how the credit system has worked in other local courts.
Leasing the Runway
The town board has been asked by the town attorney's office to decide on a fee to charge those who acquire an agreement to land aircraft on the town's 10,000 foot runway, located at Enterprise Park at Calverton.
Cardinale said he would rather the town attorney's office look to ask those in the aircraft business for suggestions.
Densieski said he will research the question and will report back to the town board in the near future.