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Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio: Smithtown has 'grown up, much like I have'
Patrick Vecchio, 82, has lived in Fort Salonga since 1967 and is in his 36th year as Smithtown town supervisor. He is planning to run for reelection again this year.
Black-and-white photos from his earlier years working as a police officer in Brooklyn hang on the walls in his office. There also are photos of him and former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died Feb. 1, and another with the first man in space, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
Tell me about the changes you’ve seen over the years in Smithtown.
Changes in Smithtown came in areas near the downtowns. For example, in Nesconset, there used to be a gas station and nursery, but those have been replaced by a Walgreen’s and soon a Chase Bank and 7-Eleven will move in with brick and colonial exterior. Smithtown has changed a lot over the years with additional shopping centers, banks and even Starbucks.
Tell me more about what the town has to offer.
We have a beautiful North Shore. We have Kings Park Bluff with boardwalk and fishing pier. From there you can view the Sound and an island where people can camp in the summer. There’s also Callahan's Beach in Fort Salonga. I used to golf a lot. We have a beautiful golf course off Landing Avenue. It’s stunning with its wooded area.
Did you lose a lot of those trees from superstorm Sandy?
Actually, we’re still chipping a thousand tons a day of fallen trees and branches that was left over from that storm. This will continue for weeks.
And what else are you proud of that the town provides?
Our schools are top-notch and we have a first-class library system with four branches. Also, we have good-quality beaches and parks for families to enjoy.
And how well did the town dig out from the past blizzard?
I think our town did the best we could. I don’t know if a town could really prepare for the storm that we had. We just have to do the best we can with the equipment we have under the circumstances.
I spoke to the town historian Monday about the town’s rich history, and I was wondering what you thought about the legend surrounding the bull statue? Legend has it that Smithtown founder Richard Smith picked the longest day of the year to ride his pet bull to outline the territory of Smithtown and claim it.
It’s an interesting legend to think a street name [Bread and Cheese Road in Fort Salonga] is named after the place the founder of Smithtown stopped to have lunch. And Smithtown is 55 square miles. I wonder how long it took him riding his bull to cover the distance. I’d say it’s a good story and not too hard to disbelieve.
What can you tell me — going back to when you first took office — about how Smithtown looked compared to now?
Smithtown has definitely grown up, much like I have. The old movie theater is now a performing arts center and there have been other changes throughout the years. What used to be an old landfill is now a senior center on Middle Country near Route 111. It’s the quality of life that’s offered here that keeps everyone around. The parks and beaches are beautiful and there’s a vast array of town services offered.