Smithtown highway chief seeks $10M for road fixes

Glenn Jorgensen is the Highway Superintendant in the Glenn Jorgensen is the Highway Superintendant in the Town of Smithtown. Photo Credit: John Dunn

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Smithtown's highway chief is renewing his call for a $10 million road-improvement plan, but he may not have enough support from the town board.

Glenn Jorgensen said last week he intends to resurrect the proposal -- which he made last year -- when the board and town department heads discuss proposed capital projects Monday at a 10 a.m. town hall work session.

In an interview, he said he would ask the board to borrow $5 million this year and an equal amount in 2014 to repave about 60 miles of town roads, and fix curbs and sidewalks. The average homeowner would see tax bills go up $1 a month in the first year and $2.25 a month for the next 12 years to repay the debt, he said.

"Years ago, we used to have the best roads in Suffolk County," Jorgensen said. "Now, I have 100 miles of road where I have to do nothing and 350 miles of road that I have to do something before they deteriorate even worse."

Jorgensen's proposal caused a rift last year between council members who expressed support and Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who opposed the plan. "It just can't be done," Vecchio said last year. "It's that simple."

He declined to comment on Friday.

Jorgensen's plan, because it calls for borrowing, requires approval from at least four of five town board members. He said three board members -- whom he declined to identify -- support the plan.

Councilman Thomas McCarthy said Friday he was undecided, adding he is concerned about the impact the borrowing would have on taxpayers.

"How can you stagnate the town with just one particular borrowing?" McCarthy said. "We have to be fiscally prudent in how we borrow."

Councilman Robert Creighton said he was inclined to support Jorgensen because many town streets are in poor condition.

"The roads are not fine, and if ever there was a time to borrow money, this is it," Creighton said. "I believe it's something that most taxpayers would accept in order to improve the roads and the sidewalks."

Jorgensen said it would cost about $180,000 per mile to pave a road, while the cost of reconstructing streets would be about $380,000 per mile. "It's always cheaper to repave a road now than have to reconstruct the road later," he said.

Councilman Kevin Malloy said he supported Jorgensen's proposal. "The longer we put things off, the more expensive it's going to be," he said.

Councilman Edward Wehrheim has said he probably would support Jorgensen.

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