The Islip town supervisor recently visited Newsday to talk to reporters Candice Ruud and Sarah Crichton and a group of editors about issues and developments in the town. Here are excerpts.
On attracting new airlines to Long Island MacArthur Airport: At this point it's prospecting, but it's active. I think the commissioner would tell you I'm zealous about getting partners there. We need choices at the airport . . . We have to show them a municipality can be a good business partner. We have to show them we're committed . . . Every time I'm in public, people say, "Are we getting JetBlue?"
On whether longer runways would make the airport more attractive to new airlines: They would like to be able to land in any condition, which would require some improvements to our facilities and that we're committed to doing. We would have to improve parking, and make certain airfield improvements, enhance our runways by making the first runway as long as the second -- twin 7,000-foot runways -- and make it an all-weather operation for them . . . When you have a longer runway, you can back off on the thrust and the engine is quieter. Longer runways are quieter -- that's never been sufficiently presented to the public.
On the town's $26 million deficit: The deficit is staggering. It's not something that is surmountable with the standard remedies . . . We have to come to terms with it and in very short order . . . Once we define how we got here, we need to transform the way we define service and change the way government operates. In some cases, we need to change the way we deliver services.
On Serota Properties' proposal for a 140-acre mixed-use project at Veterans Memorial and Sunrise highways in Holbrook: You don't develop here to hurt existing communities there. We need a study on impacts on retail in the downtowns. They [Serota] seemed amenable in the public hearing to making changes in the plan . . . We need to figure out what competes and what we have a need for. Serota mentioned an REI store . . . That doesn't compete with the small stores which have a certain niche. We need to be judicious as a board about looking at the quality and character of the retail.
On development in general: People moved here because they wanted to be in the suburbs. We don't want to lose that character of the community. But there are a lot of theories about development. We're building for today and for 20 years from now. There are projects within the town on a macro level that were being held back by systemic delay, and it doesn't fall solely on the last administration. It goes back long before that . . . Offices were not talking to each other. Planning was not talking to building and building was not talking to the tax assessor. I don't understand the lack of urgency in government, that's been my frustration. In just three months, I've seen a slight cultural shift, not a tectonic shift but it is a shift.
On judging progress made by his administration: Don't miss the bunts we're laying down. We're laying down a lot of bunts . . . Look at increased occupancy in the foreign trade zone at Long Island MacArthur Airport, and what's going on in the town as far as applications going through the planning board . . . The barometer of success is going to be: Is there economic activity? Can you get things done in Islip?