First chamber meeting of the year
BAY SHORE—The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore held its first meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library to discuss a number of issues pertaining to the downtown area. Chamber of Commerce president Donna Periconi opened by saying Bay Shore is growing, “generally,” adding that “not everything is perfect, and we’re going to address that later.”
The new Republican minority leader of the Suffolk County Legislator, Tom Cilmi, spoke at the beginning of the meeting. “We have four new members of the Legislator this year,” Cilmi said. “Nothing really changed in terms of the leadership of the Legislator,” he continued, referring to Democrat DuWayne Gregory’s re-election as presiding officer. He also mentioned the slight change in complexion of the Legislator. There used to be 12 Democrats and six Republicans; there are now 11 Democrats and seven Republicans. Cilmi, a Bay Shore resident who represents the 10th Legislative District, said this could change how the county operates moving forward. “We don’t intend to be notably obstructionist this year, by any means,” he said. “We intend to work in a bipartisan fashion with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to carry out the business of the county in a way that our taxpayers deserve and demand.”
Periconi reminded those in attendance that the chamber has been a strong opponent of the Heartland Project, which looks to remake the 452 acres of the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital property in Brentwood into an urban community. She then told Cilmi her hopes that he would keep an eye on the developer Jerry Wolkoff’s county application for $25.5 million in fee cuts.
“I’ll be watching this and I’ll be in touch with you,” Cilmi told Periconi.
Developer Michael Butler, who bought the old medical school on E. Main Street, which had been in disrepair for many years, briefly spoke about his plans for the 600-square-foot property. There will be 26 apartments, mostly on the upper level, while the lower level will be primarily businesses (some already existing) and other retail.
Butler is also heavily involved in the Riverhead restoration efforts.
Bay Shore’s unpopular parking meter program was, of course, discussed greatly. Bay Shore Chamber member Mike McElwee said he asked the Town of Islip for information on how much revenue the meter system, which cost $750,000 to install, has generated for the town. McElwee said the Islip Town Board was very helpful and provided a report of the profits.
All revenue generated by parking meters for the year 2016 was $351,727.31. All revenue generated by parking meters from Jan. 1, 2017 through Nov. 1, 2017 (meters were suspended for the holiday season) was $562,507.23. Fines received from parking meter specific violations for the year 2016 were $63,810.00. Fines received from parking meter specific violations from Jan. 1, 2017 through Nov. 1, 2017 were $68,140.00.
The chamber of commerce agreed that with numbers like these, the meters aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They also don’t know if any of the profits have gone towards paying back the bond that was used to install the meters.
McElwee said he reached out to the Village of Patchogue, which has had metered parking for a few years now and reported similar revenue, to see how the parking situation in Bay Shore can be improved. One request would allow Bay Shore residents to get a parking sticker on their vehicles.
In addition, Periconi addressed the United Methodist Church of Bay Shore on Montauk Highway, which is in dire need of repair. Bay Shore’s oldest church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, so it can’t be torn down. But Periconi said the community must make sure the building is restored. “We’ve collected a nice amount of donations, but it’s not enough,” she said, adding that St. Patrick’s R.C. Church on Clinton Avenue has been playing a big role in the restoration.
Bay Shore Beautification Society organizer Sue Boudreau said her organization is struggling financially. “We’re not quite broke, yet,” Boudreau said, “but our treasury is very low.” She also said the nonprofit is having problems with lack of members. “We’re volunteers and we’re not getting any younger.”
Periconi agreed, saying the organizations needs to recruit “new blood.”
First vice president of the Bay Shore Historical Society Priscilla Hancock also announced that, in honor of Black History Month, pastor Brandon Allen of the Bay Shore Bethel A.M.E Church will be speaking about the history and influence of the church in Bay Shore at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
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