Written by Carol Frank and Christy Hinko Friday, 22 February 2013 00:00
“We have to wake up to the reality, that America’s first suburb, Levittown, has to be the new suburbia; when I think of the southeast part of Nassau county, It’s probably one of the only places left in the county that is consistent with the original suburban concept; it’s still working there,” said County Executive challenger, Thomas Suozzi, of Glen Cove. “It’s still the closest to our original suburban dream; it hasn’t been as ruined as other places.”
This, among myriad issues facing the county that Suozzi would work to fix if elected to the position of county executive, was forefront in the topics of a recent interview by the editors at Anton Community Newspapers.
When his own daughter went away to college, he began to wonder if she would ever come back to Long Island, not just because of the high cost of living, but whether there would be areas that would appeal to a young adult. “Suddenly, young people leaving the island became very real to me.”
Back to the county role in all this he said, “Borrowing, borrowing is the issue... Instead, we need revitalization. We need cool downtowns like Garden City, Rockville Centre and Great Neck. People live there in walkable communities with shops, restaurants and a train station...Let’s preserve open space, but let’s develop downtowns ... take derelict areas and rebuild them.”
He pointed to Hempstead saying, “It was never properly planned ... I would try to work more with local governments...Hempstead is too spread out. Build the center into a downtown and change the zoning on the outskirts.”
And then he veered into the contentious HUB situation. For starters, “It’s a disgrace we lost the Islanders.” Then moving on, Suozzi said, “It’s a valuable piece of property, some 70 acres. It’s accessible, but it’s un-walkable...Create development that connects Hofstra University, the community college, Omni Building up to Roosevelt Field Mall ... Let the developer make the money, but demand that he create an environment where a corporate office would want to be ... When I was younger, I wanted the best deal. Now, I say, let’s transform this place.”
He described the area as “little islands that could be connected by high speed busses... A private developer needs to be doing this. It’s an opportunity for office buildings, housing … we have to create places where people want to be. It’s not just about affordability.”
From one day to the next, the race for leading Nassau County out of a fiscal swamp has become super-charged as the possibility of three Democrats fighting for the county executive hot spot to oppose incumbent Republican Edward Mangano in the general election takes shape.
Suozzi in an interview with editorial staff from Anton News said, “I’m very proud of what I did governmentally, but I blew the politics...If I’m elected again, I will be a lot better politically.” Responding to a question about consolidation and his earlier efforts to eliminate some special districts, he acknowledged that, “while I believe that consolidation sometimes works, it didn’t fly politically...I wouldn’t go that way again.”
Instead, Suozzi pointed to his love for the job of county executive, solving problems and having a vision for the future. And skipping over potential Democratic rivals, his remarks focused on critiquing the current administration.
He said that a number of factors came together in making the decision to run again. “ I kept my mouth shut to give Mangano a chance to do his job,” but his concerns grew as the county continued “runaway borrowing,” increased police overtime due to force cuts, bond downgrades by Wall Street, and lack of follow-though on numerous projects.
He emphasizes that, “I was always about property tax relief and so I was asked by Governor Spitzer and then Governor Paterson to chair a commission about tax relief. Now we have the property tax cap in place....Why are property taxes so high in NYS? We spend more per student than any other state in the U.S. despite the fact that our results aren’t any better than other places ... we’re in the middle or below in some cases.”
He also laid much blame for high property taxes at New York State’s door saying, “They mandate what local governments have to do, but don’t fund any of it... I worked harder than anybody to fix property taxes. We only have three alternatives to deal with the tax burden...raise state aid, cut expenses or raise property taxes.”
Asked about Mangano’s police precinct consolidation, Suozzi commented, “It was poorly communicated with the public and it was awfully implemented and hasn’t been done fully. They make grand pronouncements and then they don’t do it. I’m not against the idea if they keep the buildings staffed and there’s a police presence in neighborhoods.”
He added that he favored the privatization of the county bus system, but thought that Mangano’s plan to consolidate sewers was a terrible plan because “it would raise rates by 3 percent every year for the next 25 years. You’d have double the sewer rates. Why is it OK to let the private guys raise rates?”
Regarding freezing tax assessments for Sandy homes, he is concerned that a 4-year freeze while they’re being redeveloped, yet staying at a frozen level, would affect the assessments and cause the property tax burden to shift to other homes in the area creating an imbalance and a greater burden. He added, “ I have no confidence in the current county administration’s competence to implement this.”
As to the idea for requiring school districts to pay certiorari claims, he said, “That’s the wrong approach. It’s just shifting the burden from the county to the school districts. I will be coming out with a detailed plan on that.”
Suozzi concluded, “If I’m the guy who helps change the direction of Nassau County... that will be enough. I would be very satisfied if I got that opportunity.”
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Jessy Davidson, a student at MacArthur High School in Levittown, organized and held a blood drive at the John Theissen Children’s Foundation on Wantagh Ave. this past weekend.
Davidson, a junior, hopes to earn a small college scholarship through the New York Blood Center Bloodstock Scholarship Program by hosting this blood drive. If at least 30 donors come through, she will qualify for the scholarship.
Anyone who is in high school is able to participate in this scholarship, according to Davidson.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal panel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards.
Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
An outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites high school graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
The Island Trees track program is pleased to announce that four members of the team will be participating in the New York State tournament. Students honored include:
Alexa Dolgos with a personal best of 1.37 in the 600 meter run; Alyssa Mustafa with a personal best of 17 feet, 3.5 inches in the long jump and a personal best of 36 minutes 1.3 seconds in the triple jump competition; Andrew Zabala with a personal best of 43 feet 5 inches in the triple jump; and Joe Stanco with 47 minutes 10.5 seconds in the shot put.
— Submitted by Varsity Track Coach Joseph Manna
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
The Island Trees Bulldogs Wrestling team finished the 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 18-8. The team defeated Syosset in the Dual Meet Championship playoffs 34-27, and then lost to Plainedge in the second round 48-29. The team had a strong season and was ranked no. 8 in Nassau County. The Bulldogs entered 22 wrestlers in the Nassau County Qualifying Tournament, out of which, eleven of the team’s All-League grapplers qualified for the coveted Nassau County Wrestling Tournament. Six wrestlers also received All-Conference honors, with one wrestler earning a wildcard into the tournament, for a total of 12 Island Trees wrestlers competing.