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Brookhaven State of the Town focuses on repairing roads, environment

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine delivers his

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine delivers his State of the Town address at Town Hall in Farmingville on Monday.   Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Brookhaven  Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Monday the municipality will spend $150 million to repair deteriorated roads plagued by potholes. 

The Republican supervisor, in his seventh State of the Town address, also said he was wants to develop a comprehensive management plan this year to protect ground water, and that the Brookhaven landfill will officially close Dec. 31, 2024.

Repairing roads was the highlight of Romaine's 45-minute speech, which touched on how Brookhaven is fiscally responsible and has become more energy efficient in recent years.

"We cannot wait any longer," the supervisor said,  saying the town  has repeatedly asked state officials for money to fix roadways. "We need to make sure our infrastructure remains in place."

Town Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro said in an interview after the address that the town plans to bond out $150 million over 10 years, and that an announcement would come soon.

"We've been talking about this for a long time, obviously, the need for additional funding," Losquadro said. "We've been looking at opportunities as we move out into the future."

Romaine, who was hoarse and under the weather on Monday, delivered his speech in front of about 200 people in the Town Hall auditorium.

He stressed the need to monitor groundwater after Suffolk County health officials in October urged East Patchogue and Medford residents who use private wells to get their water tested for contaminants from firefighting foam and other products.

“We should document the effects of human activities on groundwater, track pollution trends, promote water conservation and develop plans to reduce saltwater intrusion,” Romaine said  in his speech.

He added that  efforts to create a comprehensive management plan to protect groundwater are underway. He also said Brookhaven will provide free tree seedlings, a program that has helped in planting more than 10,000 trees.

Republican Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner lauded the supervisor for his environmental stance.

"The town board is committed to improving the environment. Every step we take to improve our water quality, whether it be our [Long Island] Sound, the bay or the ocean, is better for everybody," Bonner said. "The more we do to protect our drinking water, the safer residents will be."

The supervisor said the town would negotiate new contracts with the three employee unions this year.  

Romaine, who oversees Suffolk County's largest town, with a population of  about 500,000, was elected in 2012.

During his address, he asked Albany officials not to cut the $1.8 million in state funds that Brookhaven anticipates through the Aid and Incentives for Municipality program.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed cuts to the program in his 2019-2020 fiscal budget.

“We need our partners in New York State government to join us in investing in a better tomorrow,” Romaine said.

Republican Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico said Romaine delivered a powerful speech. "This town works together, and the proof is in the results," he said.

Republican Town Councilman Neil Foley praised Romaine's address.

"He has a vision, he has a plan and not just for 2019, but for three, five years and  10 years out,"  Foley said.

 Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, the only Democrat on the board, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Romaine also gave an overview of the town in the past year, in which Brookhaven adopted a $304.2 million budget. The  town's Industrial Development Agency closed on 15 projects, resulting in nearly $344 million in private investing.

 Brookhaven has maintained its AAA bond rating, the highest level from Standard & Poor's, has demolished more than 250 unsafe homes and is on pace to replace its 45,000 outdated streetlights with energy-efficient lighting by 2020.

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