Their voices were heard
ISLIP TOWN—This week’s town board meeting started out easy enough. Two Islip Town residents, Oliver Rivadenerya and Gary Stack, were recognized for their respective good deeds.
Rivadenerya, 10, from Islip Terrace, raised over $10,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the last five years with his lemonade stand. Stack, a private security guard from Holbrook, aided in the apprehension of a robbery suspect after witnessing the crime take place at a 7-Eleven near his home.
Then the public portion began.
Before opening the microphone to speakers, Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter asked everyone, as she does every meeting, to be respectful of the public forum and stay within the three-minute time frame that’s allowed.
The first speaker was Joe Fritz, a Brentwood resident and East Islip-based attorney, who has become a frequent speaker during town board meetings after announcing earlier in the year that he was challenging Islip Town clerk Olga Murray for her post.
Fritz, who has been critical of both the Island Hills and Heartland developments, noted that the Islip Town Industrial Development Agency, also known as the IDA, receives applications from “many companies” looking to construct a wide range of projects.
Fritz reminded everyone that developer Jerry Wolkoff received two tax breaks for the Heartland development over the last 20 years. “The homeowner gets no tax breaks,” Fritz said, before bringing up past comments that the supervisor made, where she equated the recent property tax increase to a couple of lattes.
“The giving of tax breaks to those who do not deserve them is egregious to all town residents,” Fritz said. “Will mega-developer Rechler receive a tax break if the Island Hills project is approved?
“They won’t get a tax break if our team is elected because our team is committed to denying the Island Hills mega-application in Sayville,” he continued.
The “team” Fritz was referring to would be the Democratic slate that includes Thomas Murray, the candidate who is challenging the supervisor for her post. Carpenter briefly interrupted Fritz, saying, “This isn’t a campaign stop,” to which he quickly replied, “This is free speech.”
Fritz continued, “The IDA tax break leads to government mistrust because of the political contributions. If the town board gives a tax break, who do you think [the receiver] will provide political contributions to?
“You guessed it — to the politicians who gave them the tax break.”
Later in the meeting, while the agenda items were being discussed, the IDA’s administrative director, William Mannix, insisted that Rechler’s proposed project in Sayville is not eligible for a tax break. “They don’t meet the requirements,” Mannix added.
Another speaker, Kevin Shapiro, spoke a little bit about the “concept of legacy.”
Shapiro, a Bohemia resident who has spoken out against the Island Hills development during numerous town board meetings in the past, defined legacy as the “impact that you leave, the essence of who you are and how it impacts others.” Shapiro stated that as a father of four and a teacher, he views legacy as “one of the most critical facets” of his life.
“As respected public servants, legacy is also one of your critical issues,” he said, addressing the town board. “How do you want to be remembered when your children and grandchildren and everyone else in the communities you serve contemplates and reflects back on your career and the decisions you’ve made? What light will they place you in? How will your legacy be remembered?”
Shapiro said that due to the various developments that have been “encroaching” on Long Island, many areas no longer resemble the places he knew years ago. “We’re building developments that will not fulfill the housing needs of Long Islanders,” he said. “These price prohibitive-monstrosities will not keep millennials here, nor will they hold the flight of empty-nesters.”
In closing, Shapiro asked the board members to “reflect” on what they would like their legacy to be throughout the Town of Islip. “Will it be one of great character and bravery that helps preserve our communities, or one that contributes to the diminishing of ours and your very way of life?” he added.
Pat Montanino, another frequent speaker from East Islip, began with her usual claims that Carpenter has taken political donations from anyone and everyone, including an alleged $88,000 from the founders of Reclaim New York.
Montanino then accused the board of doing nothing when they were told that a leasee of the Islip Town Beach eating area was allegedly serving patrons what they believe to be mixed drinks with liquor, despite only being licensed to serve beer and wine.
Greg Pepi, another regular speaker from Islip, followed up about these claims, arguing that patrons at the Key West restaurant aren’t receiving the liquor they ordered, but rather a mixed wine that’s meant to resemble various liquors like rum and tequila.
The restaurant’s owner, Sal Cataldo, also appeared before the board and accused Montanino of slander. Cataldo said Montanino has been “going door to door” and distributing flyers about his misleading drink menu. He also said she had to be removed from his restaurant over the weekend for causing a scene.
Cataldo said a glass of beer or wine has the same alcoholic content as a mixed drink. “We don’t use regular liquor [at my restaurant]; we use liquor that’s infused with wine that makes it legal for people with a beer and wine license,” he stated.
“This is a woman who lives in a glass house and keeps throwing stones,” Cataldo said, referring to Montanino. “She’s not educated [on the issue].” He also brought up the criminal charges that were filed against her more than 10 years ago.
Montanino was charged with stealing over $280,000 from her boss, Brightwaters real estate developer Louis Modica. She said the money was a loan, according to past reports, which also quote her lawyer saying the funds were paid back before criminal charges were filed. The case was ultimately dropped in 2010.
The next Islip Town Board meeting will be held on Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.
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