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Village Meeting Provides Housing, Theater Updates

Mayor says ‘neighborhood sweeps,’ higher fines target repeat offenders

Village of Westbury officials updated the public on several items at their regular meeting on Aug. 2, including recent progress in terms of the housing enforcement effort as well as the status of the Post Avenue theater project.

Senior Building Inspector William Mello reported that the Building Department had just completed an eight- to 10-block “neighborhood sweep” to contend with illegal housing in the village.

“Of the 22 houses that we attempted to inspect, we got into 10 of the houses, which is a pretty good rate,” said Mello, adding that the department would make further attempts to inspect the rest of the homes.

Mello indicated that three of the houses inspected had illegal occupancy issues, which resulted in summonses for the homeowners.   

“They’re actually due in court next week, so it’s a pretty speedy remedy to some of the problems that we have,” said Mello.

Mello also mentioned that the department is soon scheduled to cover another eight- to10-block area.

“The housing sweeps are effective and they do result in increased cases being brought into our court for prosecution,” Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro noted.

Cavallaro cited several of the latest methods used by the village in combating illegal housing, including increased code enforcement personnel, search warrants and higher fines for second- and third-time offenders.

“We’re doing what we can with the resources we have, and hopefully, we will see an impact in reducing the number of illegal occupancies that take place,” said Cavallaro.

The mayor also spoke about current developments on the Post Avenue theater property.

“For many, many months it seemed to just linger, but the developer is making very good progress now and I think we can see some outline of what the theater’s going to look like.

“We have seen the renderings, but when you see the windows go in and some of the architectural features being designed and developed, it’s very satisfying,” Cavallaro said, added that the interior is also coming along nicely.

The theater’s grand opening later this year should bring many patrons to the area, so Cavallaro anticipates the village will take precautions for increased volume along Post Avenue in the coming months.

“There will be challenges that we’re going to have to address in terms of traffic and parking, but we’re going to do whatever we need to do to make sure those things are accommodated.

“I’m hopeful that some time in the late fall or early winter, we’re going to have a grand opening of the theater,” said Cavallaro.

The village board also held three public hearings to enact new amendments to the village code.

One amendment required that taxicabs licensed in the village have clearly visible identification lettering for better regulation purposes. Another amendment reduced parking restrictions on Owen Street at the request of residents.

The final local law amending several sections of the code required that the village clerk be given prior written notice of unsafe street or sidewalk conditions before the village can be held liable for injuries suffered by the condition.  The new law also expanded the code’s definition of a street or sidewalk to include other areas, such as parking lots.

The mayor explained, “Basically, if somebody wants to sue the village because he or she got hurt on something that’s other than a street or a sidewalk, we’re requiring proper notice before we can have a liability.”

The mayor also discussed upcoming road improvement projects and the eventual replacement of the Ellison Avenue bridge.

“We assessed all the roads, and we came up with a list of roads to do this year,” said Cavallaro.

“Some of them are contingent upon receiving certain state monies that have been approved, and we’re just waiting to receive them.

“As soon as the money comes in, those roads will be done, but in the meantime, we’ll be doing the sidewalks and the roads that we have allocated funds for over the next couple of months,” he continued.

Cavallaro also mentioned the future Ellison Avenue bridge replacement plan, which will probably take place in about a year.

“We have a preliminary road closure plan to re-route the traffic, and we’ll be refining that once the project gets closer. 

“It’ll be difficult, but there is no alternative; that bridge really needs to be done. We’ll be putting out a lot of information when it gets closer as to what’s going to be happening, when it’s going to happen and the duration once we have more definitive information,” the mayor concluded.