Old and new business discussed at town meeting

Old and new business discussed at town meeting

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
4/21/2016


ISLIP TOWN—At the Islip Town Board Meeting Tuesday night, the board listened to varying concerns from the public – particularly regarding the future implementation of an official town-wide feral cat program – and passed resolutions bringing a new airline to MacArthur Airport, implementing counterterrorism tactics at town marinas, and a new deal allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to utilize the Islip Pistol and Rifle Range. 

During the public comment portion, many residents and leaders of animal advocacy groups asked the town board to follow the examples set by other townships by establishing proactive measures to deal with the growing population of feral cats – specifically, a trap, neuter, return (TNR) program. 

“Islip is one of the only townships that doesn’t have anything in place for its residents,” said West Islip resident Jessica Karbowiak. “I’ve spent many thousands of dollars with TNR on my own time, and we desperately need it in Islip…It’s about compassion, civic mindedness, and the overall ecology of our community.”

“Doing nothing or repeating failed approaches is no longer an option,” said Blue Point resident Carrie Michael. “I know too many residents that are using their own money so that cats can be fixed. We need to work together to humanely reduce cat populations.”

In response, town officials stated that they are working on putting a program together and that Department of Environmental Control Commissioner James Heil has been given the go-ahead to develop methods to curb the feral cat issue.

“We are committed and we’re moving in a positive direction,” said Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt. 

Babylon resident Joanne Anderson of Last Hope Animal Rescue commended the board for removing former animal shelter director Joanne Daly and encouraged them to make the appropriate adjustments now.

“Joanne Daly was an obstructionist for everything humane, especially with the cat program,” said Anderson. “We need a new mindset and a new direction. We need a feline planned no-parenthood program and we need it now.”

Meanwhile, Brightwaters resident Carmine Chiappetta notified the board that graffiti and waste was still present at the Bay Shore Train Station, and that funds generated from the newly implemented paid parking program should be used to clean it up.

“You’re charging the money…but the graffiti persists,” said Chiappetta. “Use that money to get rid of it and maintain [the station].”

Islip resident Nora Sundin came forward to reiterate complaints about the presence of the Sunset Restaurant at Islip Beach – which features lives music and serves alcohol – near her home on Elder Road.

“Our neighbors have been ignored and treated poorly,” said Sundin, who issued a petition with signatures of more than 40 neighbors against the restaurant, along with photos and police reports regarding various complaints – particularly noise. “How is it possible to justify that we have to subsidize a private business to profit from a town park while hurting our quality of life?”

During the regular business portion, the board authorized an Airline Use Agreement with Maine-based Elite Airways, LLC to provide airline services at Islip MacArthur Airport. The addition brings the total number of carriers at the airport to four. Under the deal, Elite will begin nonstop jet service to vacation destinations in the Northeast and Southeast sometime in the next two months “with new cities that have never been served from MacArthur,” according to airline president and CEO John Pearsall. Supervisor Angie Carpenter noted that an official press conference on the deal would take place this Friday.

The board also approved a resolution authorizing the supervisor to enter into an agreement with Suffolk County in conjunction with the Islip Harbor Police to provide personnel to conduct tasks known as “Operation Shield.” Under the program – funded by the Homeland Security Grant Program – the county will reimburse town personnel at a rate of $45 per hour for a total amount no greater than $5,040 to conduct a range of exercises, including searching foreign-flagged vessels within town marinas for contraband.

“Operation Shield is aimed at identifying, limiting and disrupting the ability of terrorists, traffickers and immigration law violators to surreptitiously enter the U.S. by utilizing the East End of Long Island,” read the language in the resolution. 

The board also approved a resolution to allow the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant access and use of the Islip Pistol and Rifle Range. The measure passed by a vote of 3-2, with Councilwomen Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Mary Kate Mullen voting no. In the past, nearby residents have voiced noise complaints and safety concerns while such parties utilized the range. The deal allows the town to charge $250 per use through April 18, 2017.

The next Islip Town Board Meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 24 at 2 p.m.