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Election season begins at Town Hall

By: 
Anthony Perrotta
Publication: 
The Islip Bulletin
Joe Fritz
Apr
18
2019

ISLIP TOWN—A lifelong Brentwood resident and East Islip-based attorney announced his candidacy for town clerk during the public portion of the Islip Town Board meeting on Tuesday.

Joseph Fritz, who is listed on the Democratic line, began by asking voters to “keep an open mind” in this year’s election. “[Residents] must look to what the town has done and what the candidates plan to do,” Fritz said, adding that voters must also trust their elected officials. “However, I believe that those who are now in public office may not be deserving of the voters’ trust.”

Fritz addressed residents in Sayville and its neighboring communities in particular, while questioning the town’s motives regarding Rechler Equity Partners and their hopes to construct over 1,300 rental apartments in 27 buildings (most at a height of three to four stories) at the former Island Hills Golf Course on Lakeland Avenue. The Plainview-based developer filed an application with the Town of Islip, in 2017, to change the zoning of the vacant property from AAA (residential) to PDD (Planned Development District).

Fritz also took issue with the town allowing developer Jerry Wolkoff regarding the first phase of his decades-long Heartland project. Heartland Town Square has been a highly contested issue since the developer purchased 450 acres on the grounds of Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood from New York State in 2002. This newspaper published a breakdown of the project with “Learn about Heartland,” which ran on March 23, 2017. The $4 billion plan looks to include 9,000-plus apartments, one million square feet of retail space and three million square feet of retail space, amounting to 15.5 million square feet of development.

Fritz stressed that he is personally against both the Island Hills Golf Course and Pilgrim State developments. “I do not trust the Islip Town Board’s judgment because they have imposed urban standards in a suburban community,” he said.

“My counterpart, Islip Town clerk Olga Murray, had the opportunity to express her opinions about the overdevelopment of these properties and she said nothing,” Fritz said. “By saying nothing, you know where she stands.”

Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter appeared somewhat dismayed while stating that she’s never seen the public portion of a town board meeting used as a venue to announce a political campaign.

“It’s a new use of the public forum,” Fritz responded.

Carpenter and Murray, along with councilmembers John Cochrane and Mary Kate Mullen, are up for reelection this November.

Earlier in the evening, the town board postponed the possibility of placing a one-year moratorium on the retail sale of marijuana. The decision came after recreational marijuana legalization was recently removed from the New York State budget.

Officials considered imposing a recreational sales ban, for at least a year, during last month’s town board meeting.

Among other items on the agenda that were all approved, the Islip Town Board accepted a donation of 200 influenza vaccines from Southside Hospital-Northwell, with the intent to improve the health of the town’s elderly population and decrease the chances of hospitalizations.

The next Islip Town Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at 2 p.m.