Climate change highlights town meeting
ISLIP TOWN—In addition to addressing a full agenda of resolutions, the Islip Town Board heard comments regarding proposed developments and their renewable energy policy.
Several members of the Suffolk Student Climate Action Committee spoke during the public portion of last week’s town board meeting, where they, most notably, urged officials to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity for all municipal buildings by 2030.
The committee, which also held a picket outside Town Hall before the meeting, is composed of students from local high schools and has spoken before the board numerous times in recent months. Eric Stenzel, a Sayville High School student and vice president of the SSCAC, says climate change should be a top priority for both the township and the nation.
The committee also calls for the changing of zoning codes, mandating that all new buildings be built in the necessary direction for solar panels; the hiring of a sustainability director, whose job it would be to create, enforce and investigate climate policy within Islip Town; and creating financial incentives for renewable energy use and emission reductions through subsidies, tax breaks or tax penalties (like a carbon tax).
“There is no time left for us to be patient; there is no time left for us to placate to the next election,” Stenzel said, referring to a recent study by the International Panel on Climate Change that says we have 12 years to cut our global emissions by 45 percent, below 2010 levels, and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid wide-ranging damage.
Stenzel says the issue of climate change affects him personally as a 17-year-old who is concerned about the future. Stenzel continued by saying the handful of actions his committee has listed are within the town’s means.
“If our worry right now is about the money [these actions] cost, I wonder how much that’s really going to be a concern when we have to repair all the roads every time there’s a massive storm,” Stenzel said. “The economic decision is to take action now and not wait until it is too late.”
Supervisor Angie Carpenter insisted the town has, in fact, taken steps to meet the committee’s requests, adding that some are “impractical.”
Carpenter, however, said she likes that students are getting involved in their community. She also suggested the committee reach out to the other levels of government, such as the Suffolk County Legislature, Albany and Washington, D.C.
Stenzel, in the days following the meeting, told this publication the SSCAC has reached out to “every level of government,” including the Sayville school board, the Suffolk County Legislature, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate and the United States Congress.
Melissa Hunter, a Sayville HS graduate who currently studies biology at Stony Brook University, spoke in support of the committee. “I hope you’re taking the students’ concerns seriously,” she told the board.
The town’s recently appointed environmental commissioner, Martin Bellew, spoke Wednesday, Nov. 28 with the committee’s president, Harrison Bench, about steps being taken by the town to meet some of their proposals. The results of that meeting were not available by press time.
Thomas Murray, a Bayport resident and environmental lawyer, applauded the student speakers for their efforts, adding that he is having his first child next year and worries about what Long Island will look like, due to climate change, when they grow up.
Murray, the most recent Democratic challenger for New York State’s 7th Assembly District, also noted the strong opposition to a proposed slaughterhouse in Islip, located on Beaverdam Road, citing the large turnout to last month’s board of appeals meeting. “It’s clear residents don’t want it,” he said.
Lastly, Murray took issue with Carpenter’s recent televised comments regarding the town’s 2019 budget, where she equated the average $28-per-household increase with buying a few lattes.
Carpenter apologized for her past comment. “It’s not the best comment I’ve ever made. If I offended anyone, I apologize,” she said, adding that she was trying to make a simple comparison.
On another matter, Peter Corbin, a longtime Sayville resident, expressed concern about the proposed Island Hills Golf Course Development Plan, which looks to build over 1,300 rental apartments in about 20 buildings, mostly at a height of three to four stories, on Lakeland Avenue. Rechler Equity Partners, a Plainview-based developer, filed an application with Islip Town last year to change the zoning of Island Hills Golf Course from AAA (residential) to PDD (planned development district).
“The development will have a [negative] impact on Islip Town,” Corbin said, adding that he has seen such changes on Long Island due to similar developments. Corbin also said he wished to “find out the agreement” between Islip Town and the developer.
Islip Town Councilman Jim O’Connor responded to those comments by saying there is no agreement between the two parties. “It’s a regular application process,” O’Connor said. “I just wanted to clear that up.”
After the public portion of the meeting, the town board addressed a full agenda of resolutions.
Carpenter was authorized to enter into an agreement with Haughland Energy Group LLC, for the non-exclusive use of the Central Islip Highway Yard in exchange for a monthly payment of $3,000 to the Town of Islip.
Authorization was provided by the supervisor to execute an easement in favor of Broadway Fairfield Avenue LLC to allow the installation and maintenance of a sewer line within a portion of Broadway Avenue and Inverness Road running between Sayville and Holbrook.
Carpenter was authorized to apply for and accept grant funding from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, through the Clean Vessel Assistance Program, to purchase and install peristaltic pumps in two land-based pump-out stations located at Browns River East Marina in Bayport and the Maple Avenue Dock in Bay Shore.
Carpenter also gave permission to apply for and accept Downtown Revitalization funding from Suffolk County for projects in Bay Shore and Islip.
The next Islip Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.
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