Town candidates share their vision for Islip
The Town of Islip candidates up for election each had their chance to share their input on various topics that affect their constituents at a Meet the Candidates event held at Sycamore Avenue Elementary School in Bohemia on Monday night. Town clerk and receiver of taxes candidates took to the four-seat stage first, followed by town council, and finally town supervisor.
First to take the stage were Joe Fritz and incumbent Olga Murray, who are both running for town clerk. Then, those running for town council and supervisor were all asked which issue in the township is the most vital to address, which elicited five different answers.
Tom Murray, running for town supervisor against incumbent Angie Carpenter, said he knocked on doors the last several months to find out just that.
“Everywhere I go, there is a different issue,” Murray said. “But overall, the main issue I see facing this town is that people feel that they are not being heard.”
Murray referenced both the parking meter situation in Bay Shore and the Island Hills proposal in Sayville in relation to his claim.
“As the town supervisor, I will give the town back to the people [and] hold more town board meetings so that everyone can be heard,” he said. “We are all stakeholders, and we can make a difference together.”
When Carpenter was asked the question, she explained that school taxes are the majority of a resident’s taxes while taxes for the town only come out to about 4 percent.
“As far as listening to the people, we listen,” Carpenter said. “Anyone who has been to a town board meeting can tell you how we listen. No matter how negative, no matter how nasty, now matter how disrespectful those comments are that are hurled at us, we sit there and we listen.”
Incumbent Mary Kate Mullen also mentioned the cost of living as the main issue in the township.
“We on Long Island are being taxed out of the area,” Mullen said. “Within the Town of Islip, we work very hard, and we have maintained an AAA bond rating, which allows us to borrow at an excellent rate. We have made good choices over the last few years and have learned to do more with less.”
Incumbent John Cochrane said that the amount of people affected positively or negatively by a project connects constituents with a local government. “The concern is every hamlet has projects going on, and their voice means a lot to us,” Cochrane said.
Town council challenger Jorge Guadron pinpointed over-development as a major issue in the township. “The irresponsible and careless approval of zoning changes without given the appropriate consideration to both the development itself and also the infrastructure,” Guadron said. “Every development project must be carefully and thoroughly studied and considered where the residents living near a given proposal and is of utmost importance.”
Leigh-Ann Barde, running for town council, could not attend the event on Monday night due to a family emergency.
ISLAND HILLS DISCUSSION
The Island Hills Golf Course development proposal in Sayville was discussed at length by the challengers, and some of the incumbents, despite previously stating they were unable to discuss open proposals, commented on the issue.
Although Mullen and Cochrane declined to comment, Carpenter was able to share her thoughts on the proposal.
“From what I have seen so far, I couldn’t support that,” Carpenter said. “Until that traffic nightmare that we call the Oakdale Merge is rectified by the State of New York, I don’t know how in good conscience you could possibly consider adding that amount of apartments. That neighborhood has a special character to it, and we have heard from the residents.”
Guadron expressed that a similar project on Carleton Avenue in Central Islip, which affects him more directly, has likeness to the Island Hills proposal.
“In 2003, a drive from Smith Street to Suffolk Avenue on Carleton Avenue was about a five-minute drive at 4 or 5 p.m. Now it is a 25-minute drive,” Guadron said. “There is a problem with traffic to begin. [Imagine] the issues when those tenants move in. The same thing will happen in Sayville, when those apartment buildings are built. I do not think that I will support the Island Hills proposal.”
Tom Murray warned that a lawsuit from the developer, Rechler, may occur as soon as a denial on the proposal is filed.
“I am against the proposal at Island Hills,” Murray said. “I have protested at the venue. I spoke up [about] it at the town hall. One thing we have to do to help fight the Island Hills development is be prepared for it.”
Carpenter responded to Murray’s warning of a lawsuit with a little more optimism for the result.
“I don’t know if the way to approach this is to hunker down and prepare for a lawsuit,” she said, “because then [we throw away] having some sort of development that the community can be supportive of and not have to be tied up in litigation for years that will ultimately cost the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.”
The Island Hills Golf Course site has received a proposal for a 27-building apartment complex that includes 1,365 rental apartments. Multiple groups, including Stop Island Hills, have expressed extreme discontent with the project, citing several issues but mainly traffic. It is anticipated that the offer by Rechler, the developer of the proposed complex, will see a verdict on a zone change by the Town of Islip in coming months.
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