Mayor’s Message-1/14/19

  Message from the Mayor                                             December 2018

  Dominick A. Longobardi, Mayor           

 From December 2018 Village Items-for a full copy of December 2018 Village Items Click here          

LOOKING BACK ~~ AND MOVING FORWARD

During this time of year, it is common to look back on the past year (or years) and to also look forward and plan for the future.  This seems particularly appropriate for the Village of Floral Park as 2018 comes to an end.  There are many projects that have been in the planning stage for some years that took shape and are coming to fruition now.  Each of these projects have taken a lot of effort and focus during the past several years, and many of the projects will now positively shape the future of the Village.

Additionally, there are major projects from entities outside the Village that will have, or could have, a significant impact on the Village.  Of course, I am referring to the Long Island Rail Road Third Track Project and the New York State Empire Development Corporation’s Belmont Redevelopment Project.

So, whether it is a project we look forward to, or just a project we have to deal with, all of these projects take a tremendous amount of preparation and planning by the Village Board, staff and countless volunteers.  Set forth below are just some of the projects that have been in the works for quite some time and which will impact the Village for years to come.

Centennial Hall

From September 2015 to April 2018, the Village Board held four Public Visioning Sessions to give residents of the Village input on the future use or development of Centennial Hall.   During this period, we worked with commercial real estate broker CBRE to explore options for the property and to solicit offers for the sale and development of the property pursuant to a Request for Proposals issued by the Village and other marketing efforts by CBRE.  Numerous offers were received and these offers were presented to the public during a Public Visioning Session.  Ultimately, a potential sale to The Friedman Group, for development of the property as 16-18 residential apartment units, was presented at a Public Visioning Session in April 2018.

After that, in  July 2018, a contract was finalized between the Village and The Friedman Group to sell the property for

$1.2 million for the development of 16-18 residential apartments.  Significantly, the contract between the Village and The Friedman Group contains a provision that provides for a 30 year deed restriction limiting any future development of  the property to residential use.  This deed restriction was a direct result of the feedback received from the public during the Public Visioning Sessions.

The contract also required that the property be renovated in a manner substantially similar to the architectural renderings submitted by The Friedman Group at the April 2018 Public Visioning Session, and that the plans be approved by the Village’s Architectural Review Board and the Village’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Over the Summer and early Fall, The Friedman Group performed their due diligence with respect to the property, and proceeded to develop their architectural and engineering plans for the building.  The Friedman Group is scheduled to appear in front of the Village’s ZBA in January 2019.  As of this moment, the hearing before the Village’s Architectural Review Board has not been scheduled. Click for Centennial Hall Update. If The Friedman Group receives the necessary approvals from the ARB and ZBA, the Village expects to close on the sale of Centennial Hall shortly thereafter.

 

Tiny Town

In April 2016, the Village had to remove a 100 year old Willow tree in Tiny Town that had begun to die.  Not only was the Willow tree a Village landmark, it provided a canopy over all of Tiny Town.  Shortly after the removal of the Willow tree, Superintendent of Recreation Kurt Meyfohrt and the Village’s Recreation Committee began advocating for the need to renovate Tiny Town.  The Village Board also saw the need and one of the first steps towards renovation was interviewing landscape architects.  In January 2017, the Village Board approved a resolution retaining RDA Landscaping to work with Superintendent Meyfohrt and the Recreation Committee on the plans for the renovation.

In addition to the loss of the Willow tree and the obvious need for shade in the playground, there were other compelling reasons for the renovation.  Playgrounds typically last 13-15 years.  Tiny Town was last renovated 17 years ago in 2000. Further, Tiny Town had a Fibar surface, which was not only becoming costly to maintain, it is not ideal from a handicap accessibility standpoint.

Trustee Frank Chiara, as Recreation Commissioner, worked extensively with the Recreation Committee, the Recreation Department and the Landscape Architect, to develop a plan for Tiny Town that achieved all of these objectives.  After several months of work, the Village Board held a Public Information Meeting in February 2018 to review the Recreation Committee’s plans for Tiny Town with the public.  At this well attended meeting, the public gave many productive comments to the plan  (such as, add more swings).  The Recreation Committee and the Landscape Architect did some more work to incorporate the public’s comments, and then the project was put out to bid (in fact, it was put out to bid twice).  Ultimately, the project was awarded to Turf-Tek, a firm that is very accomplished in playground construction.

The groundbreaking for Tiny Town took place on October 15, 2018 and it is expected that the renovation will be completed shortly after the new year. For additional  photos of Tiny Town please visit our website at fpvillage.org

 

Road Programs

A few years ago, the Village embarked upon a road program to address the many roads in the Village that needed reconstruction and re-paving.  Through a combination of current tax dollars, financing, grants and other state aid, we have managed to reconstruct several roads in the Village.  Under this program, in prior years we have done the entire length of Raff  and Lowell Avenues, Zinnia Street, Charles Street and portion of Daisy Avenue.  Also, the drainage problem at the intersection of Hickory & Cedar was remediated.

This past year, we were able to reconstruct nearly the full length of Locust Street.

The major road projects that are in the planning stages include the complete reconstruction of Floral Boulevard, Spooner Street in its entirety and the Spooner Parking Lot, the balance of Locust Street (from Miller Avenue to Vandewater Avenue) portion of Marshall Avenue (from Covert Avenue to Orchid Street), and a portion of Hinsdale Avenue (from Jericho to Lowell). Also, drainage repair projects are planned for the catch basins at Elm and Crocus Avenues, Emerson and Lowell Avenues and East Hitchcock and Depan Avenues.

 

Trees

The Village is very proud of its status as a “Tree City” and is constantly monitoring its inventory of trees to make sure we preserve these vital assets.  Sometimes it is unavoidable, for safety reasons that certain trees must come down.  This was the case with the reconstruction of Locust Street this past Summer.  The loss of trees was simply unavoidable.  However, the Village replanted more trees than were taken down on Locust.  Further, over and above the re-planting on Locust, last year the Village increased our tree budget so we could plant and replace even more trees throughout the Village.

 

LIRR 3rd Track Expansion

The LIRR 3rd Track Expansion Project is well underway and work has already begun in our Village. While this may cause some disruptions from time to time, the Village is carefully and diligently watching all aspects of this construction and will make certain that the

negotiated program in place will be followed to a tee. Some key things you should be aware of include the closure of Covert Avenue, scheduled to begin in March of 2019. Also, the area around the South Tyson Avenue bridge will be very active going forward.

The Village urges all residents and business owners to keep checking the Village website, www.fpvillage.org, for constant updates and information. Also, there is an updated construction schedule from 3TC on page 7.  I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Trustee Archie Cheng for his tireless efforts to stay on top of the construction and the LIRR itself.


Belmont — Belmont Park Redevelopment Project

On December 6, the Empire State Development Corp. (“ESD”)

issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for the Belmont Park Redevelopment.  This document outlines the project and most importantly describes the ESD’s findings on environmental items such as traffic impacts, land use, and natural resources.  As described in the Village’s community leaders’ meeting in October (along with our website postings and traditional media coverage), the project has grown in significant size and scope.  Although the development as originally proposed would have impacted Floral Park; the proposal now will have a significant impact (e.g. fulltime use of North Lot and East Lot, increased traffic due to retail village/shopping mall, minimal use of the Belmont LIRR station, etc.) on our existing way of life.

As always, the Village Board, Administration and the volunteers on the Belmont Task Force are diligently following the project and will provide updates as they become available.

We strongly urge all residents to do the following:

  • Review the DEIS to become familiar with the project

and the potential impacts it will have on the Village

and our homes.

  • Attend and speak at one of three Public Hearings on
    January 8, 9 and 10, 2019 which will be held at the Elmont
    Memorial Library.
  • Submit written comments to [email protected]
    by 5pm on February 11, 2019.

As I am sure you are aware, our Deputy Mayor, Kevin Fitzgerald and the volunteer members of the Belmont Task Force have been meticulously following this project and have been providing our residents with information.

To view the DEIS and to see additional information from the Belmont Task Force, please visit the Village website: www.fpvillage.org

 

Police Contract

The fact that the Village has its own Police Department is a tremendous asset to all of the Village’s residents and businesses.  I truly believe that over the last several years the Floral Park Village Police Department has emerged as one of the best trained Police Departments in the County.  The fact that Floral Park is consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live based on crime statistics maintained by the FBI is not a mere coincidence.  Rather, it is a testament to the training, dedication and professionalism of our Police Department

At the same time, it is undeniable that the very real benefits the Village receives from having its own Police Department comes at a very real cost to our taxpayers.  Balancing the benefits of our police with the costs and delivering the best police coverage possible at the most efficient cost is the very highest priority of our Village Board and Village Administration.

Towards that end, the Village and the Floral Park Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (“PBA”), the union representing Floral Park’s Police Officers, have been in extensive negotiations for over the past three years.

On October 2, 2018, the Village Board approved a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) with the PBA which provides for a revised Collective Bargaining Agreement with our Police and which also includes a Retirement Incentive Package for PBA members with over twenty years of service with the Department.

The Retirement Incentive Package resulted in the retirement of six of the most senior, and consequently six of the most highly paid, members of the Department.  Although the Village will be losing many years of valuable experience that these officers possess, the Village will be able to hire younger officers at a much lower rate of  compensation.  Even considering the monetary payout aspect to the retirement incentive, the Village will be able to realize significant savings over several years due to the Retirement Incentive Package.

The MOA also provides for increases to the base salaries and compensation of the members of the Department that are, by and large, consistent with other negotiated contracts and Arbitration Awards in Nassau County.  Significantly, the MOA provides for changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as to how other aspects of the PBA members’ compensation package are calculated going forward.  Specifically, the MOA changes the Collective Bargaining Agreement to curtail the rate of growth in the final sick leave payout benefit and final termination pay benefit that have been part of the PBA members’ compensation package in their Collective Bargaining Agreement for as long as anyone can remember.  We believe these changes will result in significant savings to taxpayers for years to come.

These aspects of the MOA are also another first for Floral Park.  In 2013, the Village of Floral Park was the first municipality in Nassau County to negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement with its PBA that provided for PBA members to pay a portion of their health insurance costs.

Similarly, this new Collective Bargaining Agreement is a first.  It is the first police contract that we are aware of that begins to provide a means to curtail the large police retirement payouts that you may have read so much about in the papers.

Most importantly, we believe on the whole that the MOA we approved strikes an acceptable balance between our objectives of providing a compensation package for our police that ensures we are able to attract and retain an exceptionally qualified police force to serve the residents of Floral Park, while, at the same time, trying to do so as cost effectively as we can under present circumstances and within the laws within which the Village is required to operate.

Also, significantly, the six retirements will provide a new beginning for the Police Department.  We appreciate the many years of dedicated service of Lieutenants Michael Reid and Michael Suppe, Sergeants Joseph Oswald and Ronald Gagliano and Officers John Marrinan and John Crilley.  We look forward to the fresh perspective in these leadership positions that will come from Sergeants Thomas McCarthy and William Doherty who will assume the roles of Lieutenants in our Department.  Together with Commissioner McAllister, Lieutenants McCarthy and Doherty will chart the policies, priorities and direction of the Department.  We look forward to Lieutenant McCarthy and Doherty’s stated desire to lead and supervise the Department out in the streets of Floral Park.  A visible and engaged leadership and supervising presence on the streets can have a significant and positive impact on policing going forward, especially in light of the challenges the Village were to face if an arena and shopping mall were built at Belmont.

We are also pleased that Officers John Wilson, Dean Mayo and Michael Vigorito will be assuming the roles of Sergeant in the Department.  The Village is indeed fortunate that our Police Department has such a “deep bench” of qualified officers to choose from to promote to assume leadership roles.  In fact, choosing from among so many qualified and deserving candidates was very difficult for the Village Board.  In the near future, we will be choosing a fourth Sergeant to round out the complete complement of Sergeants.

Finally, the Village Board was busy choosing amongst well qualified applicants to fill six Patrol Officer positions.  We are very pleased we were able to attract from the NYPD Officers Michael Bauer, Anthony Siragusa and Mark Puleo.  Also, Kelly Murphy will be joining the force, but will first have to complete her training at the Nassau Police Academy.

 

New Active Fire Company Pumper Truck and Firehouse Renovation

Over the course of several years, beginning with Chief Florio, continuing with Chief Longobardi and finally concluding under Chief Maickel, the Chief’s Staff and the members of the Truck Company established by Active House, prepared plans for a new, state of the art pumper truck to replace the 25+ year old pumper truck that had been in use.  Because the requirements for new trucks necessitated that the truck be a greater length than the truck it was replacing, renovations to the Active Firehouse on Atlantic Avenue were necessary.  The Village Board worked closely with the Active Company to review plans for the truck and the firehouse.  Last year, both the fire truck and the renovations to the Atlantic Avenue Firehouse went out to bid.  In October of 2018, the Village accepted delivery of the new fire truck into the renovated Atlantic Avenue Firehouse (and it fit!).

I have to thank Trustee and Fire Commissioner Lynn Pombonyo for all of her efforts in working with the Chief’s Staff and the Active Company to make sure these related projects came to a very successful conclusion.

Lastly….

We cannot do this work without the help of a very dedicated group of individuals. The Staff at Village Hall and all of our   departments, led by our extremely hard-working Village        Administrator, Gerry Bambrick, work diligently day in and day out to provide the services our residents want and expect and, in addition, deserve. My colleagues on the Village Board; Deputy Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, along with Trustees Dr. Lynn Pombonyo, Archie Cheng and Frank Chiara work tirelessly to ensure the Village is prepared and ready to serve the needs of its residents and businesses. Although we work to keep the Village Justice Court a separate entity, Village Justice Doug Hayden puts on his resident hat and is an active participant when our Village is facing issues that will affect us all.