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Dissention on the board

Councilmen Anthony Senft and John Cochrane

ISLIP TOWN—At the Islip Town Board Meeting Tuesday afternoon, the board voted 4-1 to start a public hearing process on proposals by the Town Council that could substantially trim the executive powers of Supervisor Tom Croci and spread them out to the entire town board. As a result of the vote, which Croci vehemently opposed, potential amendments to Chapters 47C and 50A of the town code, including changes in administration and altering the powers and duties of town divisions, will be discussed further during a public hearing set for Feb. 15. If enacted, such a move would allow the entire town board to oversee departments involving hiring, firing, contract negotiations and other responsibilities specifically held by the supervisor alone.
Before the vote, Croci denounced the proposal and requested the town attorney to obtain legal opinions on the matter from the state comptroller and attorney general.
“This is not what the residents voted for,” said Croci to spirited public applause. “The reason they voted for this team is because we are a team. I relied on their guidance throughout this past year, where we took bold steps to make government smaller by making tough choices and cutting a lot of funds. But a team requires expeditious leadership, and to require five signatures to order a box of paper clips and pencils is not efficient. I urge the members of the board to reconsider. Our friends and neighbors deserve more from us.”
Councilman Anthony Senft defended the measure by stating that it would allow for more transparent and efficient government for the town and its residents.
“I do agree that the Supervisor holds a special role, but I disagree with how it relates to creating more open government,” said Senft. “We are one legislative branch, and to empower the supervisor to eliminate the town board from the process is improper. These considerations will make the town board more accountable to the entire town.”
A few residents spoke favorably of Croci and defended his firm stance against the proposal.
“If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it,” said Bayport resident Michelle Gillette. “I’m concerned, and I’d like to believe that the board will reconsider. It’s sad to see such negativity. Remember that when you’re unsettled as a board, we’re unsettled as a people.”
“We did not elect a co-supervisor,” said Ronkonkoma resident Maureen Budington. “We elected Croci to carry out his responsibilities and duties like the CEO of a company. I truly wonder what the reason is to take away so much of his responsibility.”
Outcry from a large number of residents came after hearing that the public pools at Casamento Park in West Islip and Timberline Park in Brentwood would be closed indefinitely. The board had initially assigned capital monies in this year’s budget for repairs to the pools, but subsequently reallocated the funds for repair and relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.
“The community needs these resources the most, and I implore you to work through this issue and open these pools,” said West Islip resident Gerry Pollatta, who is also the Islip Democratic Party leader.
“Right now we just don’t have the money, and we’re still waiting for the initial outlay of FEMA reimbursement funds for Hurricane Sandy,” said Croci. “In the meantime, we will consider any option to help get those facilities open as quickly as possible.”
The board also passed a resolution authorizing the town clerk to advertise for a public hearing at the next Town Board Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. to consider a sand replenishment project for the Fire Island Beach Erosion Control Districts of Kismet, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique, Lonelyville, Corneille Estates/Summer Club and Seaview Beach.
“I want residents to keep in mind that these areas are not just leisure destinations,” said Croci. “Following the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, this project will not only help preserve our beautiful and natural environment, it will also serve as a natural levy that keeps more ocean water from entering the Great South Bay, which is something that the South Shore of Long Island can’t do without.”