Town's pothole patrol is filling more craters

Hempstead Town is increasing its pothole repairs, ramping up a program launched last year to bolster road repair efforts, Supervisor Kate Murray said Monday.

She said the town would transfer workers from the parks department and its sanitation crews to assist in repairs. Additionally, foremen will go out looking for potholes rather than waiting to respond to a resident complaint.

"This is the second straight winter season to wreak havoc on Town of Hempstead roadways," Murray said at the pothole-riddled intersection of Hilda Street and Rowehl Drive in East Meadow. "The town is making pothole repair a top priority." She said the town is dedicating about 30 trucks to the repair effort, up from the 18 usually allocated for it.

Hempstead has received about 600 calls to fill roadway craters this season and crews have filled hundreds more potholes while responding to the calls, Murray said. The town has used about 225 tons of asphalt in making repairs so far this year, she added.

Town residents should call 1-800-POTHOLE to report road damage. Village residents within the town should contact their village officials

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Hempstead Town "is doing everything in its power to fill potholes and repair roadways as quickly and safely as possible," said Murray, who, along with Councilman Gary Hudes, helped fill four holes yesterday.  -- SID CASSESE


Tax rebates going out for Sandy-hit homes

Lindenhurst has started sending out refund checks for village property taxes paid by those who had significant damage to their homes from superstorm Sandy in 2012.

In late 2013, the village board approved issuing residents a tax rebate based on a formula established by the state. It uses a scale based on the amount of damage incurred, starting at 50 percent. Officials applied the formula to the 2013-2014 tax year, clerk-treasurer Shawn Cullinane said.

There were 119 applicants for the refund, he said, and the village approved 73 homeowners who will receive an average of $283. The $20,694 cost to the village will come out of its surplus fund, he said, and will not affect the budget. Cullinane could not give an exact amount of the surplus fund pending an audit, but said it is "several hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Cullinane called the refund "one more piece" of the village's efforts to help residents recover from the 2012 storm.  -- DENISE M. BONILLA


Info session, hearing set on LBMC plans

South Nassau Communities Hospital will host an information session Wednesday afternoon to release plans for adding an emergency room in Long Beach.

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Hospital officials last month announced it would add a 911 receiving emergency room adjacent to the hospital, where the current urgent care center is located.

Representatives of South Nassau are to meet individually with residents to answer questions from noon to 6 p.m. The session will be at Long Beach Hotel, 405 E. Broadway.

The medical center has been shuttered since superstorm Sandy flooded it in October 2012. The urgent care facility opened last year, but all ambulances and 911 calls are diverted to Oceanside or East Meadow.

Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) announced Sunday that he will hold a forum April 13 with state health officials in Long Beach and has invited South Nassau officials.

Kaminsky scheduled the meeting with the Department of Health, citing a state law mandating a public hearing must be held when a hospital closes to address concerns and future health care plans.

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The public hearing is set for 7 p.m. at Long Beach City Hall . -- JOHN ASBURY


Democrats to screen hopefuls for 3 spots

The political season is off to an early start in Smithtown, with town Democrats announcing intentions to screen candidates for two town council positions and the tax receiver post on the November ballot.

"We just wanted to get an early start, because we are going to have an open screening process and we just wanted to let the town know that we intend to field candidates," Edward Maher, chairman of the Smithtown Democratic Committee, said in a phone interview. He said candidates from all parties are welcome. "If somebody is interested in running, and they're registered with another party, I don't want them to think that we don't want to talk to them."

Maher said Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency board member Tony Giordano and former Smithtown supervisor candidate Steve Snair have expressed interest in town council seats.

Snair said in a statement, "The voters here in Smithtown have seen how little this all-Republican board has done for them and they will remember in November."

Smithtown Councilmen Edward Wehrheim and Robert Creighton, who received Republican and Conservative support in the 2011 election, said they both plan to run again.

Creighton said the pair plan to campaign with town Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varricchio, who is also up for re-election this fall.

Bill Ellis, chairman of the Smithtown Republican Committee, said only the three incumbents have come forward to be screened. He said the committee will start screening for town positions after the March 31 special election for Suffolk County's 12th Legislative District.  -- LAUREN R. HARRISON


Town OKs $27G more for repairs at park

The town board has authorized paying a consultant an additional $27,000 for construction work at North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington.

The town had previously authorized $155,849 for an engineering services contract with Cashin Associates P.C. of Saltaire to rebuild a fishing pier. The additional $27,000 will fund study of a neighboring dock for potential renovations.

The amendment was approved at the March 10 town board meeting, bringing the total contract amount to $182,849.

The fishing pier was damaged by superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Town officials expect to be reimbursed $550,000 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild the pier.

Its renovation is critical to the revitalization of the park, officials said. The town wants to add a restaurant and has ended leases with the Manhasset school district and a day camp, permitting buses and vans in the parking lot. -- SCOTT EIDLER


Suffolk buys last park piece for $223G

Village trustees last week gave final approval for the sale of the last village-owned parcel of Nautical Park to Suffolk County.

Under the approval, reached at the board's March 9 meeting, the county will pay $223,000 for the parcel, which comprises about a tenth of an acre in the 1.7-acre park at the corner of Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue.

The park is managed by Amityville but was created from five parcels acquired by both the county and the village from 1999 to 2001.

For years, Amityville officials complained that the county had agreed to reimburse the village for acquisition costs but failed to do so.

The $223,000 represents what Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory said was a portion of the market value of land the village acquired for the park in 2001.

"The wheels of government grind slowly, but we finally got some good progress over the last couple of years thanks to DuWayne and [village attorney] Richard Handler," Trustee Nick LaLota said at the March 9 meeting.

LaLota has said the windfall will likely be applied to a combination of deficit reduction, property tax relief and parking and lighting improvements to the village downtown. -- NICHOLAS SPANGLER


Learn boat safety at Coast Guard class

Looking ahead to the summer season, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering boat safety classes next month.

The course is taught by Coast Guard-certified instructors, approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and satisfies New York State boating education requirements. Completion of a boating safety course is mandatory for any New Yorker who wants to operate personal watercraft.

The classes, which cost $50 per person, teach boating laws, use of personal safety equipment, emergency procedures and hunting and fishing, among other topics.

The classes begin March 28 and will be taught at the Joyce Fitzpatrick Senior Center at Brookwood Hall in East Islip. Saturday and Wednesday classes are available.

For more information or to register, contact Robert Figueroa of the auxiliary at 516-607-6381 or at safeboatingbob@gmail.com. -- SOPHIA CHANG


Want to volunteer? Fair will show how

The Sachem Public Library is to host its third annual volunteer fair featuring 20 organizations representing advocacy, special needs, public health and other issues on March 28.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., adults and teenagers over age 16 can learn about volunteering with local organizations seeking assistance.

Representatives from groups such as the Special Olympics, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society, New York Blood Center and Make the Road NY will be available to discuss volunteering opportunities.

For more information, contact community services head Lauren Gilbert at the library at 631-588-5024 ext. 247. -- SOPHIA CHANG


3 honored for work for labor movement

The Long Island Federation of Labor honored Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and two Long Island union activists for their commitment to the labor movement.

"He has strengthened the town's apprenticeship requirements within the Community Benefits Agreement for Huntington Station renewal to create a well-trained workforce, ensure public safety and establish long lasting careers in construction and other fields," the federation wrote in its event program.

The group honors three people -- usually one each from the community, government and the labor movement -- who have helped advance labor's cause, said Roger Clayman, the group's executive director.

Stephen Flanagan, a manager for Local 66 of the Laborers International Union, and Suzy Ballantyne, former director of government affairs for the New York State AFL-CIO, were also honorees at the March 5 awards event at the Huntington Hilton in Melville. Flanagan was recognized as a labor leader and Ballantyne as a member of the community.

As the government recipient, Petrone was hailed for what the group said was a commitment to bring union jobs to the redevelopment plan for Huntington Station.

The group has held the annual awards ceremony for more than 20 years, Clayman said. Prior honorees include Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), when she was Nassau County district attorney. -- VALERIE BAUMAN


Learn how to file tax grievance at seminar

Town residents unsatisfied with their home value assessment can learn how to file a tax grievance at a town-sponsored seminar March 24.

Town Assessor James Ryan said he will help residents determine if a property has been overassessed, whether a grievance should be considered and how to fill out the forms. He will also show Brookhaven residents how to have their assessments checked by the town's five-member assessment review board.

"Too often people compare their assessments to their neighbors' and that's not what they are supposed to do," Ryan said in an interview. "We teach whether or not they have a case to begin with."

Town officials said filing grievances can be undertaken without hiring professionals.

"What I try to do is explain to people that you don't need to hire an expert to file a grievance," Ryan said.

The free 7 p.m. seminar will be in the media room on the second floor of Town Hall. For more information, call Town Councilman Kevin LaValle's office at 631-451-6647 or the town's assessor office at 631-451-6300. -- DEON J. HAMPTON