I would like to welcome everyone to Port Washington North’s annual meeting. I lot has happened in my first year as Mayor, and a lot more will happen in the coming year. I’d like to give everyone a State of The Village update.
The Board of Trustees has been tireless in setting the tone for a proactive Village. Within the past year, we have addressed many of the initiatives we outlined at the annual meeting last year and are raising the bar by adopting new ones for this fiscal year.
Quality of Life
We pledged to make Port Washington North a better place to live, and we are committed to achieving that objective. We have continued negotiations to acquiring the Danaher property in order to give the Village a Village Hall, Court, Club and Park. We also have been working with the Town and the County to create a 11 acre park for the entire Port Washington peninsula to use. We are well underway to start the Bay Walk Park project. And now we have another exciting project, the Bay Walk Park extension, which will hopefully be developed on the 11 acre site once we acquire it. The wish list includes preserving the front lawn with a gazebo and a children’s playground, a dog run, perhaps a soccer field, even an outdoor ice skating rink and skateboard park.
We have contracted to have 2 parts of Soundview Drive redone Fisherman to Shore Rd. and Schooner to Cove. This includes aprons and curbs along with repaving the street. We are in negotiation with the Town of North Hempstead to repave Ave. B and C. We have repaired many of the damaged sidewalks in the Village. We are putting a new round of street repair and sidewalk work out to bid. We expect to fix all of the pot holes in our streets very shortly and complete further major sidewalk repairs in the coming year. We have contracted to replace all of our street signs with the prototype that exists on Soundview and Radcliff ( or I should say used to exist, due to a despicable act of vandalism Sat night). Most of our traffic signs, (stop signs, no standing/parking signs, etc.) have been replaced as part of an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of North Hempstead.
Sense of community
We strive to find new and better ways to communicate with our community to better inform and educate our residents on what’s going on in Port North. Last year we had to very successful block parties in Port North. I now understand those parties have combined forces to hold a major block party at Manorhaven Park. Hopefully that is the last time we will need to use a park outside of our Village boundaries. Once we obtain the Danaher property, with its large parking lot and front lawn, we hope to unite the Village with an annual party on our own site. Guess what’s happening in May of 2007? The Village’s 75 anniversary of being incorporated. What better way to gather the community than to have a party. We have started planning to bring the Village together and share the joy and history Port North has to offer. Anyone wishing to help with the celebration is welcome to call Village Hall.
Village Court- We’ve created a Village Court. This will better enable us to deal with the legal issues affecting our village. It will give our residents better representation and it will also allow the village to receive much of the revenues from fines, rather then having them leave the Village for the County. .
We have made out streets safer through our Safer Streets initiative, by adding additional stop signs to intersections that were dangerous or confusing. We’ve also lowered our speed limits on many of our streets to 25MPH from 30. We will be installing portable speed monitoring devices at locations where excessive speed is an issue. The Port Washington Police District is coordinating safety efforts with the Village and will step up its enforcement of our traffic laws.
We are also reaching the conclusion of the planning stages of the Shore Road Traffic Calming project, and expect work to begin by the summer. The plan calls for beautiful red bricklike crosswalks across and along Shore Road, and a decorative median in the center of the road. We will be installing state of the art technology equipment; pedestrian crossing signals that count down how much time you have to cross, complete with audible and vibrating alerts for the visually impaired, the first of its kind in North Hempstead. We will also be installing speed monitoring devices on Shore Road to alert motorists when they are speeding. Better handicap ramps and striping are also planned. All this in an effort to make it safer to drive and walk across and along Shore Road.
We have reached out to LIPA for answers regarding the consistant loss of power we experience. They in turn met with our Village to discuss the situation, not just for our Village, but for the peninsula as a whole. We expect to hear from them again with solutions to our problem.
We established the Villages’ first official tree policy. This policy covers how trees are felled, what trees get planted in their place, and new permit application and notification policies for taking trees down. As you will hear in our Budget Hearing, going forward, the Village has committed significant financial resources to trimming tree and replanting trees in the Village..
Tight fiscal policy and controls
We continue to strive for excellence in this area, and amend our policies to insure greater fiscal controls and accountability. We have added additional sub-line items to our budget report to better monitor our projects. Most importantly, the fiscal controls we put into place last year are working. This year we are committed to change our auditor for the next fiscal year to provide us with a fresh set of eyes in examining our fiscal practices and books.
We’ve been updating our ability to process and retain information in the Village. Through a grant award, we now have our Village’s building files and board minutes fully digitized and backed up in case of a disaster. Going forward, we are installing GIS software and replacing 2 old computers with new ones, again with proceeds from a grant award. We will also be purchasing building dept. software, to improve our record keeping, distribution of vital forms, and streamline and shortening the time it takes to perform many of the functions of the building dept. We are also writing a grant to receive funds to purchase Court software, which is needed to run our new Village Court. Our Website has taken on a new look. More information is available than ever before, and it available quicker than before also. Take a look.
Last year we were awarded almost $600,000 for 3 grants we wrote. We also applied for 5 grants that we are awaiting word on totaling close to $2,000,000. We also have another $1,000,000 Federal appropriations request submitted with Senator Schumer and Rep. Gary Ackerman’s office. We are keeping our fingers crossed. This year, we expect to write at least 5 more grants, for funding the Bay Walk Park, purchasing software for our Village Court, planting trees, and continuing our traffic calming efforts on Shore Road north of the present project.
Our Village has reached out to neighboring municipalities to share ideas and search for solutions that are time-tested, efficient, and cost effective. We have been working with the Town of North Hempstead to do sign replacement, road striping, and soon road resurfacing. We have been meeting with Sands Point to discuss ways of using their facilities in case of a disaster. By sharing services, the Village stands to save money and get things done quicker.
Through legislation, we have eliminated our Industrial Zone entirely, upzoned many of our commercial districts, and tightened the code on some of our residential districts. We have hired a planning firm for the purposes of analyzing our residential districts to determine what is needed to keep the size of homes being built “under control”. This should take about 3 months. Once completed, the Board will have the ability to take suggestions and recodify our residential code for the better.
A lot has happened, and lot remains. I am very proud of our Village’s efforts and accomplishments. But it pales in comparison to how proud and pleased I am to have assembled so many hard working and caring individuals, from our employees, to the individuals who have donated their time away from their families and work to help make Port Washington North a better place to live and work.
We first offer our deepest sympathies to the family of our former trustee and public work superintendent, Charles Ratkoski, who passed away this year. Charlie served this Village for many years, and the Village is forever grateful. Charlie began his service with the Village as a member of the Board of Appeals in April of 1992. He went on to become a Trustee, Public Works Commissioner and Deputy Mayor. We also just saw the retirement of our Deputy Building Inspector, Peter Fagiola. Pete spent 7 years with us, and has decided to move out east and enjoy himself. We wish him well. Our present staff, Palma, Linda, George, Steve, and Barbara have worked effectively and efficiently to keep this Village running. Without their help, we couldn’t even begin to tackle the initiatives we’ve set forth. I thank you for making my first year in office a wonderful experience, and appreciate all of your input and guidance. Deputy Mayor Mike Schenkler continues to oversee our financial processes, provide input on our contracts, lead the Village Hall/ Village Club initiative and create and circulate the best darn newsletter on Long Island. Trustee Cohen has be diligent negotiating our land swap and addressing the LIPA and Verizon problems we face, and other utility issues that exist in our Village. Trustee Hoffman has been spearheading our efforts to sell the 2 parcels we own next to our old Village Hall, continues to champion our street safety efforts, and always has an eye on our environment and the quality of live in our Village. Our newest member of our board, Trustee Malatino, has gotten off to a running start. He has been overseeing our road projects and public works dept., in some cases with shovel in hand. His expertise in running both a building dept. and a public works dept. for another municipality is invaluable. Our Commissioner of Environmental Affairs, Bob Keane, continues to keep us current with the demands of storm water runoff and environmental issues that affect or Village. He is also responsible for the new look of our Website. There is nothing better than having new residents join the ranks. We have added and filled 5 new positions in our Village. And we have 4 new members on our team. We created the positions of Village Justice, filled by recently elected Shelly Greenbaum and Acting Village Justice, filled by recently appointed Howard Krebs. Howard also serves as our new Chairman of our BZA replacing Shelly after 19 years. We added 2 new board positions to the planning board, making it a 7 member board. Those positions were filled by Trustee Cohen, and Alex Moschos. Alex also serves as our new Commissioner of Emergency Management. He has been attending numerous meetings with both Nassau County and the NCVOA to make sure our Village is safe and ready in case of an emergency. We have a new Deputy Building inspector Fred Lauria, and a new Commissioner of Public Works, Dan Lomonte. Both bring years of experience in their fields. The prospects for this year appear to even surpass those of last year. We are fiscally strong, continue to be proactive in our approach to managing the Village, and see great things for not only our Village, but for the Port Washington peninsula as a whole. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. Thank You.