BELLONE TO SMITHTOWN-“DROP DEAD”
On April 15, County Executive Steve Bellone presented his second proposed Capital Budget to the County Legislature, with the pronouncement that, at approximately $130 million dollars, this budget is a full 27% less than current adopted Capital budget. While savings are desperately needed at all levels of government, in all aspects, what was not mentioned, but for one page, were those projects, fully underway, that became casualties relegated to the cutting room floor. Groundwater flooding remediation, restoration of the Blydenburgh Historic district, and traffic safety at a dangerous offset intersection all became casualties of Bellone’ s so- called fiscal constraint.
Each of the projects that the County Executive has decided to eliminate in the 12th Legislative District have been multiyear efforts, all designed to further important public purposes. Capitol Project 5574, created to support the reconstruction of the dangerous roadway condition at Smithtown Boulevard (C.R. 16), Shepard Lane and Gilbert Avenue followed my efforts to compel the County to address this sight of traffic fatalities, and serious physical injury to pedestrians and bicyclists. Earlier this year, I hosted a meeting at the Nesconset Library allowing the general public to see various remediation models proposed by RBA (see attached). In just the three year study period, 32 accidents occurred at this sight, with numerous traffic problems observed by the engineering firm. Further, Suffolk County expended $74,000 to secure the study, a first step towards commencing design and construction to remedy the dangerous conditions. Apparently, neither money expended, nor community involvement, nor lives lost or permanently impacted were of that great a concern to the Executive’s Budget office when deciding to terminate this Capitol Project. I will prepare an amendment to restore the project, and the $200,000 in design funding for this year.
Equally disturbing was the decision to eliminate Capital Project 8170, the multi -year flood remediation project associated with the Northeast Branch of the Nissequogue River. Working in collaboration with the Town of Smithtown and the Village of the Branch, over $ 1 million dollars in planning and remediation funding has been expended to date, resulting in the successful clearing of over 4000 feet of the tributary to date, providing much needed relief to homeowners who have suffered from recurring groundwater flooding for decades. The source of County funds has been the ¼ cent Groundwater remediation funds, derived from sales tax. Presently, the prestigious engineering firm, H2M, who successfully managed the first phase of the project, is now wrapping up the study and remediation plans for an additional 7500 feet of stream area, in the Village, leading to Miller’s Pond. This project has built off of the groundbreaking work undertaken 33 years ago with Capital Project 5013 and led to an unprecedented and highly successful methodology for silt removal, winning tremendous support from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 1 office. Suffolk County’s Multi- Jurisdictional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, prepared in 2007, found that approximately 3000 properties were impacted by the shallow groundwater table, primarily in the areas of Southern Smithtown, Hauppauge, and Nesconset. Efforts are presently underway to secure grant funding to continue this project, and maintaining the Capital Project status is critical. I will submit an amendment to restore the project, and authorize additional funding to continue providing relief to groundwater families.
As outrageous as the elimination of the above two projects are, removal of Capital Project 7507 is a wholesale rejection of the residents of Smithtown, and the long history of generosity associated with our founding families. C.P. 7507 in the Parks Department is titled Renovations at Historic Blydenburgh Park. Among the many buildings in the Historic district area is the Mill, dating back to 1798, and the Miller’s House, from 1802. These examples of colonial structures date back to the time of the founding of our nation. While the Mill has undergone reconstruction of the foundation, and sheathing, as well as replacement of timbers, additional work is required to restore the functionality of the wheel. Likewise, the Millers House, facing Stump Pond is in serious need of stabilization and repair. While the County’s web page notes that these buildings are on the National Historic Register, and represent the only publicly held aggregation of indigenous farm and mill buildings on all of Long Island, providing for the upkeep and maintenance appears to be of little consequence for County Executive Steve Bellone.
I will propose an amendment to the Capital Budget to restore the project, as well as the funding necessary to re-activate the Mill wheel, and to restore the Millers House.
These are just a few examples of the projects that have been removed, and elimination of abandoned items is a prudent budgeting practice. However, none of these projects have been abandoned, nor have the residents of Smithtown. As always, I stand ready to carry the initiatives and concerns of my constituents to the Suffolk County Legislature. Thanks for the continued support.
John M. Kennedy Jr.
Suffolk County Legislator 12th LD