Packed agenda at first meeting of 2016
Brightwaters Village Hall

Packed agenda at first meeting of 2016

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
1/7/2016


BRIGHTWATERS VILLAGE—The first Brightwaters Board of Trustees meeting of 2016 was highlighted by four separate public hearings that initiated productive discussions among residents and ensuing decisions by board members. 

Ultimately, the board unanimously voted to adopt a $246,125 contract with the Bay Shore Fire District Protection Contract for 2016. They also unanimously voted in favor of adopting a pair of contracts with the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance for the next two years—$75,000 for 2016 and $85,000 for 2017. Mayor Joseph McDermott then voted to table a resolution to pass a local law to install two additional stop signs on Orinoco Drive. Lastly, a vote passed by a narrow margin (3-2) to adopt a local law for consecutive term limits for elected officials.

While the first hearing centered on the fire district passed quickly without discussion, the second regarding the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance sparked some questioning as to the need for a 40 percent increase (from $60,000 up to $85,000) over the next two years.

“I don’t think it’s fair to look at it as a 40 percent increase,” said McDermott. “They weren’t being paid an ample amount over the last few years, and I think this is where it should’ve been in the past.”

Jackie Fink, an attorney representing the ambulance company, stated that the increase is based on the premise that Brightwaters’ ratio between annual contributions and services provided has been insufficient compared to the rest of the district in past years.

“We’re just looking to make the numbers more equitable so that everybody in the district that’s getting the same services pays their fair share,” said Fink.

Ambulance board member Laurie Hughes then gave an overview of the scope and quality of the services provided by the district, noting the costs of paid employees, new technology and equipment, and community outreach programs such as free CPR training. 

“We have a full paid staff of paramedics, which is the highest quality level of practitioners on an ambulance, which is rare,” noted Hughes. “Most communities in Islip don’t get paramedics on every call, but here in Brightwaters, you do.

“We’re trying to make a fair, equitable budget for Bay Shore as well as Brightwaters residents, and we really want to do what’s best for our community,” added Hughes.

Residents expressed satisfaction with the explanation, and the board subsequently voted to pass the resolution.

The next hearing centered on adding two additional stop signs on Orinoco Drive in order to slow down traffic leading into Brightwaters Village. The first would be leading eastbound into the village at the intersection of Orinoco and Ackerson Boulevard, while the second would be positioned for drivers traveling westbound towards the village on Richland Boulevard.

Many residents felt that the plan itself was flawed and could be improved by either adding two additional stop signs at each intersection for cars traveling in the opposite direction, installing “speed humps” instead of stop signs, erecting electronic speed readers, or providing selective police enforcement for cars speeding in the area. 

“I’m very much in favor of slowing down traffic, but I think stop signs are not the right way to do it,” said one resident. “Stop signs are bad because people slam on their breaks and also make a bit of noise when accelerating out of there. You’re better off slowing traffic with speed humps, which force people to slow down. A lot of towns and villages are shifting towards this, and they continue to work year after year.”

Trustee Christian Sullivan agreed with another resident’s claim that having stop signs in just one direction could cause issues.

“I share a similar view,” said Sullivan. “I know it’s confusing to have one stop eastbound, but not westbound.”

Based on the commentary received, McDermott chose to postpone the item for further investigation and discussion.

“We’re about safety, so I’m going to ask the board to table this,” said McDermott. “This is how things get done in a good village, and I want to thank everyone for participating.”

The resolution called for a restriction to four consecutive two-year terms for village officials, initiating a debate among residents vying for different sides of the issue.

“It’s the wrong premise to have term limits,” said one resident. “I have a right—whether it’s Joseph McNulty or Humpty—to pull the lever if I want him to be mayor. That’s my democratic right. I don’t think any of you should be limited to your desires to sit on the board, especially in light of the fact that you are volunteers.”

“You see the kneejerk reactions to the corruption we see in the papers everyday, but we don’t have paid administrators, we have trustees,” said another resident. “They’re to be trusted and we’ll trust you until you get voted out of office. That’s the way it works.”

Others, however, were in favor of having term limits.

“I believe it’s hard for people who are not in office to run against someone who is an incumbent,” said one supporter. “Term limits give an opportunity for people to come in with new thoughts, give us some of their ideas, and make sure that someone does not take advantage of a decision, whether it’s paid or unpaid.”

“I believe in term limits,” said another supporter. “I believe you guys are doing a great job, but at a certain point, if you don’t have term limits and people stay in elected office, it becomes more about them and not what they represent.”

In the end, the resolution passed by a narrow margin of 3-2, with McDermott, Diane Urso, and Christian Sullivan voting yes, while Laurie Elliott and Bernadette Whitwell voted no. The measure will go into effect starting with the upcoming election in June.

The Board of Trustees mid-month meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.