Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 11 September 2009 00:00
Residents of the Village of Mineola will be voting on a change in the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) for members of the Mineola Fire Department that will allow firefighters past the age of 60 to accumulate credit toward a monetary award in recognition of their service to the community.
The current LOSAP program that is in place with the Village of Mineola allows firefighters to earn $20 per month for each year of credited service up to a maximum of 40 years. The maximum benefit available to a firefighter with 40 years of service at age 60 is $800 per month.
However, under the current program, firefighters are not able to accumulate any credit past the age of 60. The Mineola Fire Department consists of some members over the age of 60 who are still making contributions to the department.
“These firefighters are particularly helpful during the daytime hours when many of our younger members are tied up at work. They perform all of the duties required to be active firefighters, conduct fire prevention programs and assist with the upkeep of the equipment. However due to their age these members are not entitled to participate in the service awards program,” said Mineola Fire Department Chief Rob Connolly.
The village, therefore, is seeking to amend the LOSAP program to allow for firefighters to accrue credits toward the monetary award past the age of 60.
In order to do so, the village must have the amended LOSAP program approved by voters. The referendum will be held tomorrow, Sept. 10 between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. All registered voters of the Village of Mineola are eligible to vote since the awards earned by the firefighters are ultimately paid by the taxpayers.
New York State allows municipalities to offer an awards program to its volunteer firefighters as an incentive for volunteers to join departments and serve the community.
“The residents of Mineola will be given an opportunity to correct this defect in our Service Awards program by way of referendum. If this vote fails to pass, the existing plan would be jeopardized meaning all our members would no longer accrue service awards going forward,” said Chief Connolly. “The Mineola Fire Department has consistently been there for the residents of Mineola. I urge the residents to come out and support your friends and neighbors who serve you by voting ‘yes.’”
At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Mineola Village Board, Mayor Martins spoke out against a proposal by the Town of North Hempstead to rezone a portion of Herricks Road in Garden City Park from commercial to industrial.
Mayor Martins was outraged that the town would even consider an industrial use on Herricks Road because industrial zoning would allow for such establishments as adult stores. Herricks Road in Garden City Park is in close proximity to Mineola High School, which is located on Armstrong Road in Garden City Park.
Mayor Martins called the potential change in zoning “unacceptable” and said he planned on attending the Town of North Hempstead meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at North Hempstead Town Hall, located at 220 Plandome Road in Manhasset.
“We’ll be there and we’ll be prepared to ask questions and demand answers,” the mayor said.
As of Thursday, the agenda for the meeting was still not available for the Tuesday meeting.
Former village trustee John DaVanzo is working as the greeter in the lobby of village hall. Anyone who enters Mineola Village Hall will see Mr. DaVanzo seated at a desk. He directs everyone who comes in where to go in village hall for building permits, to pay tickets, to the clerk’s office, etc. For those residents concerned that the village is adding another employee to the payroll, don’t worry. Mr. DaVanzo is working as a volunteer and is not being paid. To show his appreciation, Mayor Martins presented Mr. DaVanzo with a blue blazer with the Village of Mineola logo on it.
Mineola residents Sal Cataldo and Bill Urianek, who regularly attend village board meetings, are trying to get the village board to overturn its decision to stop televising the public portion of the village meetings on the village’s cable access channels.
Mayor Martins and the Board of Trustees unanimously decided to stop televising the public portion of the meetings because they felt that a few residents have said things during the meeting that were hurtful to a few of the village workers. Mayor Martins said there were instances where some people didn’t act responsibly.
Mayor Martins pointed out that the village work sessions and hearings are all still televised and residents are able to see their government operate. The mayor also pointed out that all board decisions are made in a public forum and shown on television. However, the board couldn’t risk having people possibly slandered and then broadcasting it on TV.
Cataldo and Urianek maintain that people are missing information by not being able to see the public comments on TV. They are circulating a petition to get the public comments put back on television.
Mayor Martins said he would love to see the public comments back on television, but he has the additional responsibility to make sure that the type of behavior that forced the board to take the comments off television doesn’t come back.
It is difficult to come up with safeguards and, therefore, the mayor and the board continue to stand by their decision not to televise the public comments of meetings.
Mayor Martins pointed out that by showing the work sessions and the hearings, the Village of Mineola is still making more use of the television channel than any other village in the Town of North Hempstead.
Urianek said that if anyone would like to sign the petition, they can contact him at 741-8315 or Mr. Cataldo at 747-5291.