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Letter: Starkie Responds To Sena Letter

(Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the letter to the editor in the Dec. 3 edition of the Farmingdale Observer titled, “When a Tree Is More Than Just a Tree!” by Georgiana Sena.)

Sadly during this holiday season in a non-election year I am forced to respond to Ms. Sena’s letter to the editor which appeared in the December 3rd issue of the Observer.  Here are the facts.

Prior to 2007, when I was a trustee under the previous administration, the Village was purchasing trees from Louis Barbato Landscaping at the cost of $275 per tree. The Village was purchasing the trees using the Town of Oyster Bay tree bid that Mr. Barbato’s firm had won. I believed at the time the price was high and the quality of the trees was substandard. To my knowledge, for the first time, in the fall of 2007, the Village went to formal bid on its own to procure trees. Five companies bid on the work and my brother John’s company was the low bidder at $219.75 per tree. It was a significant savings for our residents and on November 5, 2007 the minutes of the Village Board meeting state:

“It was moved by Trustee Langdon, seconded by Deputy Mayor Rachiele, to award the tree planting to Starkie Brothers, as the lowest responsible bidder. Motion carried with all voting Aye with the exception of Trustee Starkie who recused himself in order to avoid any conflict of interest but noting that he is no longer associated with this business.”

It has always been the past practice of the Village to renew contracts with vendors after formal bids if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the Village to do so. Since beginning my tenure on the Village Board, this has been the practice with our tree planting, holiday decoration installation, landscape maintenance, sprinkler system maintenance, tree removal and pruning, and on and on.

Why is Ms. Sena so fixated on the tree contract?

The Village went to bid this fall as is customary with these contracts and to our surprise, Louis Barbato Landscaping was the low bidder at $133 per tree. At the Board of Trustees meeting on October 4, the Board agreed to award the contract for replacement of Village trees at the October 18 Work Session Meeting. Louis Barbato Landscaping was awarded the contract at the October 18, 2010 meeting of the Board of Trustees upon motion made by Trustee Parisi and seconded by Trustee Ekstrand.  

Here are some of the facts that Ms. Sena omits from her letter. Georgiana Sena is a political committee person for a major political party. Mr. Barbato is a very large donor to that same party. Ms. Sena and Mr. Barbato were the only two people who showed up for the bid opening in October. Maybe just a coincidence?

Mr. Barbato holds the contract for tree planting in the Town of Oyster Bay this year. I FOILed copies of his company’s contract with the Town of Oyster Bay going back five years. His last bid was done in 2008 and has been extended for two additional years. I don’t see any editorial from Ms. Sena questioning her township on awarding a “no bid contract” for extending Mr. Barbato’s contract. The price the town is paying is $295 per tree. I will be contacting my friends in Oyster Bay suggesting they buy their trees off of our contract and thereby save town taxpayers a ton of money.

In the meantime there will be no apology to Ms. Sena as the only true thing I have ever seen written by her is that she is a resident of our Village. The rest of her writing is nothing but untruths and innuendos.

I’d like to wish everyone in Farmingdale a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a happy and healthy New Year!

George H. Starkie