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Roundup: DEC orders Sea Cliff site cleanup

DEC orders cleanup of home-building site

A 2-acre site in Sea Cliff should be cleaned because of toxic metal contamination, though it does not pose a significant public health threat, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said yesterday.

The site consists of several adjacent parcels, including 34 Wood Ridge Ave., which owner Saeid Jalayer, chief executive of Shoreham-based Biltwel General Contractor Corp., wants to develop into five single-family homes.

An environmental review of the site Jalayer submitted to the DEC found the heavy metals arsenic, barium, chromium and hexavalent chromium at the site at levels exceeding residential standards. The review also found coal ash and construction and demolition materials at the site that was deeper than 15 feet below grade in some places.

The DEC said in a fact sheet that letters from the village to the previous owner and interviews with neighbors indicated that the property was the site of illegal dumping during the 1970s.

After the DEC’s review is complete, the next step will be for the owner to develop a remediation plan that will require the agency’s approval.

Jalayer’s lawyer, Alan Knauf of Rochester-based Knauf Shaw LLP, said his client bought the land in 2002 and discovered the contamination when he tried to develop the property. Jalayer has sued the Long Island Lighting Co./Long Island Power Authority and North Shore Cesspool Cleaning Co. Inc. for allegedly polluting the land, and the estate of Anthony G. Stigliano for allegedly allowing dumping on the property. — TED PHILLIPS

Budget passes with homeowner tax hike

The Patchogue Village Board has unanimously adopted a nearly $13 million budget that increases the average homeowner’s tax bill by $46.

The board, on Monday night, passed the 2014-2015 spending plan, which pierced the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap for the second consecutive year.

Mayor Paul Pontieri blamed New York State for the village exceeding the cap.

“It’s very frustrating when you’re able to hold all of your costs in line, but costs driven by the state, such as pension costs, are the ones that put you over the limit,” he said after the meeting.

The budget increases the municipal tax levy $196,000 or 2.86 percent. It has $2.8 million in surplus. The average home is assessed between $250,000 and $300,000.

The new budget increased the retirement contribution by $43,000 and workers’ compensation $100,000. It also increased health insurance $40,000.

Last year, the board also adopted a $12.9 million budget, a few hundred thousand dollars lower than the current budget, which increased the total municipal tax levy $342,000 and raised the average homeowner’s tax bill $68. That spending plan was a 3.9 percent increase over the $12.3 million budget from the previous year.
The 2013 budget was also $191,000 over the 2 percent cap.

It was exceeded in part due to having a $75,281 reduction in tax revenue and having to spend $500,000 on superstorm Sandy cleanup. — DEON J. HAMPTON

Budget hearing postponed

Bellport Village officials have postponed a budget hearing because it was not properly advertised, Mayor Ray Fell said.

The hearing, which had been scheduled for Monday, was postponed to 6 p.m. on Monday, April 14, at the village community center, 4 Bell St.

The board is expected to vote after the hearing on a 2014-15 budget that would increase spending from $4.3 million to $4.5 million. Taxes would increase an average of 14 percent.

Fell said legal notices advertising the hearing failed to list salaries for village board members, as required by state law.

He said he realized the error when he read a Newsday story about a budget meeting in nearby Mastic Beach. Village officials there adjourned an April 2 budget vote when they were informed by a resident that legal notices did not list trustees’ salaries. The board rescheduled the budget vote for April 16.

State law says that legal notices regarding village budget proposals must state the time and location of public hearings, and “shall also state the compensation proposed to be paid to each member of the board of trustees.”


Village gets award for annual fiscal report

The Village of Rockville Centre has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA), Mayor Francis X. Murray announced Monday night at the village’s board meeting.

He said it is in recognition of the village’s comprehensive annual fiscal report.
“The certificate is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management,” the GFOA said in its letter of notification to the village.

In addition, the person the local government says is mostly responsible for the award, Village Comptroller Michael Schussheim, also received a certificate.

“This is a great accomplishment, and I am thankful for all of the hard work our comptroller ... continues to do on the Village’s behalf,” said Murray.
“This benefits the entire Village of Rockville Centre, as it contributes to the village’s efforts of transparency to the public regarding its planning and investment strategies.” — SID CASSESE

Trustee sworn in; attorney resigns

Amityville trustee Nick LaLota was sworn in for a new term and a change of village attorneys was announced at the annual organizational meeting Monday night.

With former mayors Emil Pavlik and Lou Howard looking on, LaLota warned of a “tough road ahead of us here in Amityville” and said he would work over the next year on writing a village budget that abides by the state’s tax levy cap, revitalizing the beach and downtown, and building storm-resistant infrastructure.

LaLota, who won a special election last month to serve out the remaining year in deputy mayor Peter Casserly’s term, had previously served under appointment by Mayor James Wandell. He is married to Kaylie Howard, Lou Howard’s granddaughter.

Wandell also announced the resignation of 17-year village attorney Bruce Kennedy and the appointment of Bruce Handler in his place. Handler, 62, has been Bellerose Village attorney for 30 years, a post he will keep. A village resident with a private law practice specializing in zoning, real estate and estate and trust work, he also serves as adjunct professor at Widener Law School and on the board of the Amityville Historical Society.

The post pays $17,000 a year, with no medical benefits.

“He is totally on top of his game,” said trustee Dennis Siry. “He’s a great choice for replacement for Mr. Kennedy.” — NICHOLAS SPANGLER

Town honors 12 who make a difference

The Town of Hempstead gave a dozen of its annual Make a Difference awards Tuesday at a function at its Bennett Pavilion.

But first, Town Supervisor Kate Murray paid tribute to New York City Police Officer Francis T. Pitone of East Meadow, who died in August from an illness related to his Ground Zero recovery work.

“Like Officer Pitone, the people who we honor [today] haven’t sought to reap the harvest of their volunteer efforts,” Murray said.

The award recipients are:

Richard Cantwell of Freeport, who has led a group of friends to help renovate more than 100 homes since superstorm Sandy; Shantay Carter of Hempstead, who orchestrates a drive for prom dresses for disadvantaged young women; Mark Eisen of Island Park, a volunteer aide at the 9/11 national monument; Gene Hall of Freeport, a barber in Hempstead Village for nearly 50 years who is active in many causes; Cassidy King of Levittown, a teen who raises funds and for charities; Daniel and Laurie McGuigan of Franklin Square, who are active with the Franklin Square Historical Society; Cory Nichols of Oceanside, 12, who raised money to help victims of superstorm Sandy; Chris Pekoff of North Bellmore, who spearheaded a youth bowling league and charity efforts; Noah Adam Probert of Westbury, who collects toys and donations for children; North Merrick’s Jane Rubenstein, who donates her artwork to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the September 11 Relief Fund; Valley Stream’s Tony Spezio, a leader of youth initiatives and school groups; and Kathryn Tuffy of Bellerose, who donates thousands of toys to the needy at Christmas. — SID CASSESE

Community forum on public safety issues

Nassau County Legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves plans to host a community forum on public safety issues tonight in East Meadow.

The event will allow residents to air their concerns to a range of officials, including representatives of Nassau police’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th precincts, the county traffic safety office, and department of consumer affairs.

No reservations are necessary to attend the forum, which will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Meadow Public Library, 186 Front St., East Meadow. For more information, contact Gonsalves’ office at 516-571-6213 or at— PAUL LAROCCO

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