Islip’s moving ahead
ISLIP TOWN—Supervisor Angie Carpenter spoke about the town’s past, present and future during this year’s State of the Town address, which was held on Tuesday, March 19.
In her speech, Carpenter, who is up for reelection this November, began with Roberto Clemente Park, which she described as “one of the town’s biggest challenges.”
“When I first came to the town, we were reeling from the desecration of the park by unscrupulous contractors,” Carpenter said. “We had to act as quickly as law enforcement and regulatory authorities would allow. It was slow at first. But once we established our commitment to the community and the cleanup, law enforcement and state and local regulators became our partners in moving the effort forward, making the park safer for the future.”
Following the removal of 40,000 tons of debris, the park now has a new pool, refurbished bathrooms and numerous other additions. Carpenter said a spray park, similar to Pirate’s Cove in Bay Shore, should also be completed this summer, while a long-awaited skate park is currently in the design phase.
The town parks department is in the process of replacing 1,050 linear feet of old wooden bulkheading at the Bay Shore Marina. The project, Carpenter said, has been ongoing since 2007. She also stated that between this year and last, 17 playgrounds will be replaced by the end of this year.
Carpenter recalled, last year, convening a group of community leaders who volunteered their time to form the Town of Islip Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that will be able to accept charitable donations for improvements to town parks.
“This is a great way for us to be able to raise needed funds without raising taxpayer dollars,” the supervisor said. “This is certainly a win-win for our community and another example of us all working together.”
Carpenter explained that the historic Gillette House, which had issues with its heating system last year, was recently converted from oil to natural gas, and radiators were replaced throughout the house. She also told those in attendance about the new night sky-compliant, energy-efficient field lights installed at the East Islip Marina, along with the air conditioning and new flooring in the Brookwood Hall ballroom so that it could be rented for special events, thus, generating revenue for the town.
While speaking about the town’s Opioid Task Force, which was created last year and held a public forum in October, Carpenter applauded both Suffolk and Nassau county executives for their moves to block the retail sale of recreational marijuana. “There is still too much we don’t know, so like other townships, I will be requesting a moratorium on the sale or use of recreational marijuana in the Town of Islip,” she said.
Carpenter described Islip MacArthur Airport as one of her favorite success stories.
“Four years ago, the airport was not serving the public very well and operating in the red,” the supervisor said. “It was a shell of its former glory days, and in need of a heavy dose of energy and know-how.”
Carpenter went on to say the airport currently serves more passengers now than at any time since 2010. “Financially, the airport is on sound fiscal footing, not just digging out of a hole, but making a profit and showing a surplus,” she said. “Recent airport comparisons show MacArthur is the fastest-growing ‘hub’ airport in the county.”
The number of flight seats grew from 1.7 million in 2017 to 2.17 million in 2018, the supervisor added.
Carpenter applauded the town’s highest possible bond rating from Moody’s Investment Services. “It’s worth repeating because it saves our taxpayers money,” the supervisor said, adding that four years ago, she gathered a group of volunteer financial experts to examine the town’s operations. “It was not good news. Concerns about an irreversible structural deficit were real.”
Islip Town, Carpenter said, previously raised town taxes by 28 percent without solving the “underlying problems.” She credited the town’s comptroller, Joe Ludwig, and department commissioners with helping to create a fiscal plan that has led to “positive results.
“One of the important benefits of our improved financial standing is our increased paving budget that allows us to maintain and repair the roads in all parts of our town,” Carpenter said, noting that this past year, the town was able to address major paving and drainage issues in a number of its hamlets. “We also resolved many flooding concerns, not just in our low-lying areas on the water, such as Sayville and Oakdale, but in northern areas such as Holbrook.”
Carpenter said Central Islip being awarded $10 million in downtown revitalization grants from New York State was one of the “best things to happen last year.” Islip Town, she said, started applying for the grants ever since the State Downtown Revitalization Initiative began three years ago. The first two years’ grants went to Nassau County communities.
“With this $10 million grant, the state is supplying consulting services and has engaged the community in the effort,” Carpenter added.
The new Islip Animal Shelter has been fully designed, according to Carpenter. She said if all goes as planned, the facility could be operational within the year. “This is another one of the problems that I inherited when I took office,” she said, noting that the current animal shelter dates back over 50 years and has fallen into a state of disrepair. The new shelter will have 82 large kennels, a 25 percent increase. There will be four viewing rooms, twice the size of the ones the current shelter has now. There will be a lobby display area for puppy viewing, along with a secure and separate area for aggressive animals as well as a surgical room rather than the trailer being used now.
In addition, Carpenter said the town has enacted several “green initiatives,” which look to reduce its carbon footprint.
“Islip [Town] has long been a leader in recycling,” the supervisor added. “We foresaw the problems with single-stream recycling, so by staying the course with dual-stream recycling, we were able to avoid challenges other municipalities faced this past year.”
Carpenter concluded by saying, “We have accomplished a lot over the last four years, but there is still a great deal to do.”
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