A strange smell emanating from Southampton Town Hall, discarded clamshells strewed around a North Sea home and disease-spreading mosquitoes in Sag Harbor: These were among the nearly 1,900 complaints logged by Southampton residents in the first 18 months of the town’s online complaint system.
Southampton Online Solutions, designed in-house by the town geographic information systems team, went online in June 2017. Residents can log and track complaints, which are assigned a number and a color to track each issue's progress in the system: Red means it has been logged, yellow that it is under review and green that it has been addressed.
Almost all had been resolved by late December, with more than 1,700 complaints marked green.
“We wanted to come up with a way to easily let us know about quality-of-life issues,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “We took a while to get it right, but it’s heavily used.”
Most town complaints — 1,321 as of late December — involved code enforcement matters. The remaining complaints included:
- 284 streetlight problems
- 151 town trustee or bay constable issues
- 33 fire marshal complaints
- 23 parks and recreation concerns
- 20 animal control questions
- 12 town board complaints
- seven waste management issues
- three municipal works problems
- two town justice court complaints.
The complaints range from too many cars parked on a residential property to a broken streetlight as well as more bizarre grievances. One entry notes a strange smell coming from the basement of town hall, where the code enforcement office is located. Code enforcement officers said that anonymous complaint was unfounded and learned only that the IP address associated with the complaint came from a cellphone.
Another issue, filed in August 2018, refers to a North Sea home with buckets of rotting fish and discarded clam shells that created “putrid, unhealthy smells and rodent attraction.” That issue was not substantiated by officials.
An Aug. 28 complaint stated Asian tiger mosquitoes were reported around Sag Harbor and people were “being bitten by females (drawing diseased blood) all hours of the day.” That entry was resolved by referring the complaint to Suffolk County Department of Public Works Vector Control Division.
“We’re using it to manage our own workloads,” said Southampton Town public safety administrator Steven Troyd. “It’s a good way to have a permanent record and track what happens with it.”
The complaints can be placed anonymously, and complainants’ names are not publicly available.
“We don’t tell people, ‘Your neighbor is snitching on you,’” Troyd said.
He noted that some code complaints are resolved by opening an investigation that may take months to complete.
Gayle Lombardi of Hampton Bays said she used the system to flag an overgrown commercial property, which was remedied, and a residential lot with too many cars parked out front, which was issued a notice of violation.
, A complaint is considered resolved when a violation is issued but Lombardi said it could take months, or even years, to actually resolve a problem.
“It definitely makes it easier for a resident to put in a complaint,” she said. “The SOS is just a tiny piece of a really big code enforcement process.”
Southampton Online Solutions
Photos may be uploaded with complaints
Complaints may be filed anonymously
Residents are notified of complaint status via email