The Oyster Bay Town Board has passed several resolutions for capital improvements totaling $7.45 million.
The money for improvements to public lighting and parking and park and solid waste districts was approved at Tuesday's meeting and will be issued in the form of serial bonds. The improvements were included in the , officials said.
“These improvements were part of the 2011 budget we presented back in October with held at night and during the day, and that was passed in November,” explained Robert McEvoy, TOBAY comptroller. He went on to explain the specific improvements.
As part of the $650,000 for lighting improvements, the town will spend $500,000 on light pole maintenance and #$100,000 on putting the poles into the geographical information system (GIS) system, which captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents data that are linked to their locations.
As part of the $4.5 million for park district improvements, the town will spend $500,000 on new playground surfaces, $200,000 on playground replacement, $100,000 on exterior light upgrades, $350,000 on improvements to walkways, courts and parking lots, and $750,000 on irrigation system improvements at various locations. One million will pay for repairs to the pool plumbing system.
The town will spend $700,000 on public parking improvements. Specifically, $300,000 will pay for general improvements, $110,000 will pay for engineering and $225,000 will pay for reconstruction improvements.
The town also allocated $1.6 million to pay the cost of the solid waste district improvements. It’ll spend $1.2 million on repairs to the transfer station roof at the solid waste disposal complex in Old Bethpage and $260,000 on miscellaneous improvements to the facility.
A portion of each bond issuance will go toward bonding and financing.
“It sounds like we have a good sense of the expenditures and how the money’s going to be spent,” noted Supervisor John Venditto. “Now this will all be up for further scrutiny and oversight.”
“Yes, now it goes back to the board to oversee,” said McEvoy.
One resident did voice some concerns over how much money is being borrowed.
“I know money is cheap now, but it seems like bonds are almost a code to raise taxes,” Greg Yatzyshyn. “It’s not raising taxes, but you’re taking out all these bonds that have to be paid back. There’s a bit of a concern about it.”
“All of the money spent is for legitimate purposes, to maintain infrastructure and quality of life. They’re not being used to pay for things like operating costs or payroll. The bonds are debt, but we’re set to retire them in about 10 years,” said Venditto.
“Yes, about 75 percent of them will be able to be retired,” McEvoy said.
“It is a good time to borrow,” added Venditto. “ And if there’s one thing I won’t let happen, then it’s letting the infrastructure – the roads, the parks, etc. − and quality of life of the residents deteriorate.”
Yatzyshyn understood, but reiterated, “The borrowing is just becoming noticeable now, so you should know there’s a concern.”
Venditto further explained the town does consult with residents before it embarks on improvements.
“We go into Hicksville, Massapequa, etc. and explain what needs to be done. We ask, ‘Do you want this?’ And, usually, the answer is yes,” he said. “But I understand what you’re saying, and we’ll do better communicating with residents.”
Yatzyshyn also raised a few issues regarding snow removal on West John Street in Hicksville, which Venditto assured could be remedied by knocking on some doors. That led into a larger discussion about the town’s snow removal process.
Venditto said the town was actively trying to remove the large piles of snow throughout the town.
“We’re loading snow and bringing it to the 40 acres behind the department of public works,” he explained, quipping, “It looks like the Blue Ridge Mountains over there.”
He was referring to the closed landfill behind the DPW that was remediated and the fact the town is using pay loaders and large trucks to remove snow at street corners, commuter parking lots and downtown areas.
“They’re doing an excellent job,” said Councilman Anthony Macagnone, who added that residents should also keep up the cooperation. “We need to talk to the residents so they take cars off the streets to make it easier to do curb-to-curb plowing. They should also continue to shovel snow towards their houses.”
“So the plows don’t plow it back into their driveways,” added Venditto.
The town is assuring residents that although storm number eight has just hit Long Island, its snow removal budget of $1.8 million is holding for now, and that it’ll meet its responsibility to keep the streets safe and snow-free even if more storms drain the budget.
As for the blizzard that hit the day after Christmas, the – which was part of the 2010 budget – is still being totaled. The delay, according to the town, is due to the delay in receiving invoices from the private contractors the town uses for snow removal – the same ones which have been kept busy by Old Man Winter.