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Islip Town community board members reappointed after shakeup

Residents have complained that changes on the Community Development Agency leave minority communities without representation

Two incumbent board members remaining after a shake-up of the Islip Town Community Development Agency last month will stay on for at least another year, the Town Board decided Tuesday.

CDA chairwoman Debra Cavanagh and member Manuel Troche were reappointed to the voluntary board, which oversees affordable housing and public service programs, after their terms expired. Cavanagh’s term expired last year and Troche’s in 2014.

Three other members of the five-person board were replaced last month in a surprise vote that divided the Republican town board and raised concerns about a lack of representation of minority residents in town government.

Renee Ortiz, 45, of Central Islip; Ramon Colon, 46, of Bay Shore; and Steve Raccuglia, 48, of Ronkonkoma were replaced with Timothy Morris, 35, of Bayport; Jarett Gandolfo, 27, of West Islip; and Ryan T. Kelly, 31, of Sayville. The changes took effect immediately upon their appointment.

The CDA is an independent agency that administers federal housing funds, provides a lottery for first-time home buyers and tries to eliminate blighted conditions in the town. It is overseen by an unpaid panel appointed by the town board. The CDA is projected to spend $5.6 million this year.

Residents spoke out against the shake-up during Tuesday’s meeting, saying Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore hamlets need to be better represented. They noted that the CDA does the majority of its work in those areas .

“It would stand to reason that we as constituents have a board that is as diverse as its community and has its community’s best interests (in mind),” Central Islip resident Beverly Rivera said.

The town board voted unanimously Tuesday to reappoint Cavanagh, of Central Islip, and Troche, of Brentwood, until 2022 and 2019 respectively.

Ortiz said she is concerned that the town board’s 3-2 vote to replace her on the CDA was not on the agenda for the April 24 meeting and that CDA members were not told about the planned change.

“My issue is not being replaced. My issue is the way this replacement occurred,” she told the town board.

Officials did not say why Ortiz, Colon and Raccuglia were replaced when the other two CDA members were reappointed. Raccuglia attended only two meetings of eight last year, meeting minutes show.

The shake-up comes as officials seek a new CDA executive director, a paid position that is appointed by the agency’s board.

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