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Farmingdale Village Meeting Addresses Several Matters

Former Mayor Graf Grills Board on Financial Issues

The Sept. 8 Farmingdale Village Board meeting opened with a moment of silence for fallen Farmingdale Marine James Argentine and his family.

Mayor George “Butch” Starkie then presented an award to Village Historian Bill Johnston for 40 years of public service.

“Anyone who knows Bill knows how passionate he is about the history of the village,” Starkie said.

Upon accepting his plaque, Johnston said he and his wife have spent 48 years in Farmingdale and have “come to love this community.”

“There is a lot of history here,” he added.

The board then moved quickly, approving agenda items such as minutes from previous meetings and an abstract. The Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Holiday Parade was also approved for Saturday, Nov. 21 at noon. It will begin at Northside continuing down to the Village Green.

“Young kids really get a kick out of it,” Mayor Starkie said.

Trustee Ralph Ekstrand added a thank you to the Farmingdale Fire Department for providing a truck for Santa.

Fifteen building permits were approved, including one that was sent to the Architectural Review Board.

Deputy Mayor Patricia Christiansen offered a Beautification Committee update. While minimal planting is done in the fall due to the short season, Christiansen said they will begin to focus on holiday decorations.

A village reassessment update revealed that data mailers were sent to residential and commercial properties, with 413 and 74 returned so far, respectively. These mailers were sent in an effort to get updated information about parcels within the village. The village is partnering with real estate appraiser Michael Haberman Associates, Inc. of Mineola for this project. A review has been completed of 2,302 active parcels, 472 comparable sales and the building permit process thus far. They are in the initial stage of neighborhood delineations, which includes analyzing market trends creating commercial test models and testing, reviewing and calibrating the accuracy of the test models.

“We are right on the timeline,” Ekstrand said. “It appears they are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.”

The board then unanimously voted to amend local code to include a 20-foot non-smoking entryway in front of Village Hall and the Farmingdale Fire Department.

“We’re just asking people to be respectful,” Mayor Starkie said.

Additionally, the village awarded Bullseye Signs of Lynbrook as downtown sign maker for a two-year period.

The Architectural Review Board has established guidelines for all signage, awnings and other embellishments that will adorn merchant storefronts and professional offices in the village. These signs are made possible through a Community Development Block Grant.

“It doesn’t mean you have to use him [Bullseye Signs],” explained Trustee Bill Barrett. “We’re just trying to make it easier.”

A stop sign was approved for the corner of Thomas Powell and Arthur Street, pending no objection from neighbors.

An Arthur Street resident with two small children had petitioned for one and a subsequent observation by Code Enforcement Officer JoAnn Edling revealed a stop sign would create a safer environment.

Over $58,000 in tax certioraris was approved, including $48,000 to Waldbaum’s, which will be paid in installments.

Mayor Starkie assured residents the village’s tax cert lawyer negotiates “a better deal for us.”

Old business discussed included renovations at Gerngras Park, including a new walkway, repaired lights and plantings. While they still need to get bids for a sprinkler system, Mayor Starkie added, “we’ve made tremendous progress.”

The repairs are being paid for with a grant secured by Oyster Bay Town Councilmember Anthony Macagnone and Legislator Dave Mejias.

The meeting also touched on the impact study being completed by the village’s planning consultant, Saccardi & Schiff in regard to the overall Master Plan.

The mayor and board of trustees of the Village of Farmingdale are hosting a public meeting on the Master Plan update on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall. The Master Plan update was made possible through a grant secured by County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Senator Kemp Hannon.

“I am anxiously looking forward to a finished project,” Mayor Starkie said.

In response to the recent pedestrian fatality on Route 109, the village, along with Assemblyman Jim Conte and Senator Kemp Hannon, sent a letter requesting traffic remediation for the area.

Two residents of the Woodbridge II apartments complained of what they called unfair rent hikes. The mayor responded, “we could do some checking.”

Several residents turned out to express their disappointment that another summer had gone by during which they had to experience a foul stench emitting from the Hubbard Property, located off Merritts Road.

“We put up with this long enough,” one resident said.

Mayor Starkie said the property is in contract to sell and “my only hope is that it sells and gets taken down.”

Trustee Cheryl Parisi, who visited the site, added, “It’s a shame you’ve had to endure this for this long.”

According to the board, the Nassau County Department of Health is looking into specific remediation of the property.

The village has entered into a six-month trial period where the Town of Oyster Bay assumes maintenance of lighting.

“We believe it will cost us less than we had been paying,” Mayor Starkie said. “We love the service so far. It’s been excellent.”

Former Mayor George Graf then addressed the board for approximately 45 minutes inquiring about how the current administration chose to pay off the Road Bond.

The board decided to roll some of the 2007 five-year BAN originally set up by Graf’s administration into a longer term bond this year.

“The short term debt would have ended up costing the village no extra interest charges and get the roads completed,” Graf insisted.

Mayor Starkie countered that paying the debt off sooner was a “matter of preference.”

“Paying down the debt sooner means higher taxes for people,” he later told the Observer.

“I prefer to pay it off as soon as possible,” Graf responded.

While Graf stated the board had committed the village to payments eight years out, Starkie said there’s no balloon payment, “it’s equal payments on the life of the bond.”

“It’s still more expensive than if you would’ve left it alone,” Graf responded.

“It’s not going to cost people more money because we stopped the practice of borrowing short term for tax property refunds [certioraris],” Starkie later told the Observer.

Starkie added that to pay tax certioraris, the village uses reserve money from the general fund.

“You’re taking a position that we made a fiscal decision that you may not agree with and that’s fine,” Mayor Starkie said to Graf at the meeting.

As several residents exited the meeting during the ongoing discussion, Trustee Barrett offered the following remarks to Graf, “You did the very best job you could. You made the best decisions you could make. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”

Lastly, Phil Fortuna of Long Island Checker Cab jumped in after Graf, addressing the board, who, under advisement from Village Attorney Kevin Walsh, could not comment. Fortuna is involved in an ongoing dispute with the village over several available taxi licenses. The village has maintained that they have always had one cab company in the village and do not see a need to issue more licenses at this time.

Fortuna mentioned an April 13 letter from Long Island Yellow Cab to the village that states “we have lowered the price to accommodate your request.”

“That tells me that someone in this administration was talking to the other party,” Fortuna said. “I find it disgusting. Is that how the Village of Farmingdale works?”

Next Village Board Meeting

The next village meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. at Village Hall. Residents are also invited to attend a Work Session at 7 p.m. For more information call 249-0093 or visit www.farmingdalevillage.com.