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Break The Monopoly - Why A Two-Party Islip Town Board Is Important

November 7, 2017

Island Hills in Sayville, New York, is small but it is “the” most politically significant building project planned for our area. That is because, for the first time in a long time, voters, elected officials, and civic associations are actually paying attention. Neighbors are assembling at 7 pm Wednesday, November 8th, at Bosti Elementary, 50 Bourne Boulevard in Bohemia to make sure everyone knows about Island Hills. The Sayville community joins this Connetquot community-based event in saying this: Vote No for the Zone Change to Island Hills. Politicians will likely take this issue up after the holiday break. Yet it is important for us all to consider who we want representing us on the Town of Islip Board. That will be decided on our local election this Tuesday, November 7th.

 

When we vote this Tuesday, we should ask ourselves this question: are we willing to accept the status quo of an unresponsive, single-party town board that does what it wants? Or do we want a two-party board whose members—because they won’t always agree—will challenge one another? Isn’t a two-party board more likely to make officials more responsive to voters? Local newspapers have already asked if one small township should have the power to approve some of the largest development projects in Long Island’s history. That’s a fair question. Yet the fact of the matter is that the Islip Town Board does have this power. And the workings of a single-party board have led to problems that we can correct in this Tuesday’s election.

 

I think we can shape a board through our votes into a group that listens to us. We need

candidates who serve the interests of all citizens, candidates with the knowledge to help steer these infrastructure deals in an unbiased way. Infrastructure attorney Jason Fenley and labor leader Samuel Gonzalez, Jr. are not career politicians. Nor are they connected with the corruption that has plagued our township for almost a decade. They are concerned citizens who, between them, are experts on infrastructure projects. They also happen to be the Democratic candidates nominated to run for the five-member Town of Islip Board on Tuesday, November 7th. Fenley has worked as an attorney on some of the largest public infrastructure projects in New York City as well as in nearby Patchogue. Patchogue’s success has given all of us hope for local growth. Fenley has also earned his MBA in public finance. Gonzalez is the president of an electricians union, has worked for over three decades as a union electrician, and is inspired to fight to make our home a safer place for our children. Mr. Fenley and Mr. Gonzalez have something to offer residents in terms of experience. They can also challenge, and be challenged by, the other the other three board members on impending projects.

 

Massive construction projects are underway on Long Island meant to prevent the brain drain, the loss of talented youth who leave the area because of a lack of housing options. What makes Island Hills so different from other projects is that it replaces something very desirable with something local residents simply don’t want. The Ronkonkoma Rail and Patchogue, commercial areas in dire need of a renovation, required a major overhaul and were already industrial and commercial areas. Not so with Island Hills. I remember jogging on Island Hills at dusk where my run was lit by thousands of fire. It’s one of my fondest memories. Island Hills’ neighbors have similar memories of their own, like baby showers, communions, reunions, weddings, and graduations hosted at the country club.

 

Building 27 structures and 1365 apartments on 114 pristine acres--the case with Island Hills—is something entirely different. Indeed, the developer seeks to build more apartments on the golf course than currently exist in Bohemia and Sayville combined. The plan on file in the Town of Islip lists 4 four-story buildings, 15 three-story buildings, and one structure larger than a football field.

 

All of this in a quaint neighborhood. And the project TOTALLY hangs on the zoning change

requested of the Town of Islip Board last spring. Do we want a town government monopolized by a single party that doesn’t listen to constituents making this zoning decision for us? Isn’t it time we took control of our futures by breaking this monopoly now... before it’s too late?

 

A monopolistic board, rather than a two-party board, cannot be trusted to maintain the public faith during this critical time. Trish Bergin, who is running in a contested race, was part of the political monopoly when news broke in 2014 of the toxic dumping at Roberto Clemente Park. And the Heartland Project in Brentwood, which will be the largest development in Long Island’s history, has already led Brentwood Schools and four local civic associations to file a lawsuit against the Town Board and the builder (Wolkoff). We couldn’t’ trust this monopolistic board when planning a project or managing toxic waste. How can we trust such a board with our golf course and one of the largest land development deals ever considered on Long Island (Heartland)?

 

Builders contribute to the campaigns of most politicians. Yet the number of contributions Town of Islip Board President Angie Carpenter has taken from the owner of Island Hills puts others to shame. And those monies don’t take into account how much money and how many contributions this single-party board has received from Rechler (Island Hills), Wolkoff (Heartland), and Tri-Tech (Patchogue and Ronkonkoma Hub). Ms. Carpenter is not up for election this November. But her willingness to take so many contributions, assuming no one will notice, represents the dangers of a single-party monopoly. All are welcome to verify these contributions by searching on this site:

 

http://www.elections.ny.gov/ContributionSearchA.html

 

The one-party, monopolistic Town of Islip Board is not listening to residents. Here are some examples:

 

1. Brentwood School District and four local civic associations have filed suit against the Town of Islip Board and Wolkoff:

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/heartlandbrentwood-school-district-1.14746946.

 

2. The Town of Islip referred to Huntington’s traffic concerns as hysterical and

histrionic. Never mind that traffic is likely the biggest worry among voters:

http://www.thefoggiestidea.org/2017/10/03/huntingtons-headaches-over-islips-heartlandproject-shows-how-much-suffolk-planning-is-hurting/

 

Between them, the two Republican nominees served as a News 12 correspondent and a career politician from outside the area with ties to Angie Carpenter. Ask our neighbors who live near Roberto Clemente Park—who continue worry about their children’s health because of the toxic materials dumped there—if we really want more of the same on November 7th. Isn’t it time we broke the political monopoly by voting for officials who listen to us?

 

Don’t we deserve politicians who are beholden to constituents rather than contractors? Don’t we deserve leaders who actually listen to us? Doesn’t our town deserve honest and thoughtful leadership with experience? Isn’t it time for a change?

 

Voters need to turn out on November 7th to vote for Fenley and Gonzalez. Isn’t it time we elected qualified people to the town board? Isn’t it time we broke the monopoly?

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