Source: The Independent

New Fund May Fix Blight

by Emily Toy

December 19, 2012

Newly formulated plans for a blight mitigation fund in Southampton Town could solve lots of problems for its more modest hamlets.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is planning to create a blight mitigation fund that would be used to pay for clean ups of town-owned properties, particularly areas in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, where garbage dumping plagues the region.

For the past two weeks, it’s been a topic of discussion at Southampton Town work sessions.

The three hamlets have been suffering from large amounts of dumping on town property in recent months. Abundant code enforcement issues including repeat code violators have also been problematic for the areas.

According to Vince Taldone, vice president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Civic Association, the fund would be used to collect a portion of revenue from justice court fines for code enforcement and other violations. The town is now in the process of setting up the fund to use when jurisdiction and budget issues get in the way of resolving local dumping and related problems, he added.

Taldone has been vocal in addressing the issues plaguing the hamlets, saying garbage sits month after month on town property, citing great difficulty in resolving the issue.

Last week, Throne-Holst said she proposed the blight mitigation fund as a pro-active step to address the chronic blight in areas of Southampton that need it most.

“While the highway department tries to alleviate most of those needs, the town is currently not equipped to deal with ongoing clean up and unsightly debris management at all times and when needed,” the supervisor said.

Throne-Holst added the expectation is the fund will prove to be an important step toward effectively addressing quality of life complaints.

The effort will get some funding assistance from justice court fees (up to 1 percent) as well as freshly devised civil fines and penalties to be levied, mostly on repeat code violators.

The fund would give the town board the tools and the funding to directly address complaints, while also providing the incentive for the court to levy fines and penalties, Throne-Holst mentioned.

“I am so happy to see this administration taking such positive steps toward revitalizing the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton communities,” Taldone said on Thursday. “The blight mitigation fund is a creative, new way to address the issue without burdening taxpayers with new costs.”