Just as the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds above Islip Town Hall and trickle into the second-floor boardroom, a smile appeared on town supervisor Angie Carpenter’s face as she turned to the audience.
“When life changed, so did we,” Carpenter said. “When you were forced to adapt, we adapted alongside you. And together, six feet apart, we persevered.”
At her annual State of the Town address on April 21, Carpenter recognized the strength and unity of town workers and Islip Town residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During her roughly 30-minute speech, Carpenter led listeners through the course of 2020, explaining how the town board, commissioners, department heads, and employees had to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic. On any given day, she said, town offices would receive emails “praising the ongoing professionalism of our many town employees.”
“The town and its partners have worked tirelessly... on the front lines of the pandemic, but we didn’t do it alone. With your resilience, we found a silver lining wherever they presented themselves,” Carpenter said.
As uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus arose last year, Carpenter said, the town took steps to inform and guide residents in English and Spanish, utilizing the town’s website and social media platforms.
“Information, guidelines and policies were constantly shifting at a time when certainties were scarce and anxieties were many,” Carpenter said. “The pandemic, especially in those earlier days, was ever-morphing. Our offices were tasked with wrangling the day-to-day, week-to-week, and seemingly hour-to-hour changes – and I’m proud to say they rose to the occasion.”
In July 2020, the town saw success in the Industrial Development Agency’s COVID-19 Emergency Grant Program, which allocated $250,000 to the program to help small businesses. Similarly, to help residents pay overdue rent and utility costs, the town’s Community Development Agency proposed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Islip will continue to look for ways to provide assistance where needed, Carpenter said.
For example, the CDA’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is set to launch by the end of this month. Homeowners can apply for up to three months of assistance at a time.
The CDA also purchased a meal-delivery van to get hot meals to seniors in need during the pandemic. Though the pandemic kept us away from each other, Carpenter said, the drive-in movie series offered a moment of respite to families last year.
Carpenter referenced the Department of Public Works’ efficient cleanup effort following Hurricane Isaias last summer and the winter snowstorms. Similarly, she noted the Department of Environmental Control’s effort to continue care at the Islip Animal Shelter, with the new animal shelter anticipated to open this summer. The DEC also installed solar panels at Blydenburg and Lincoln Avenue landfills and expanded the town’s water agriculture, cultivating over 12 million oysters in town waters.
Carpenter referenced the lawsuit Flores v. Islip Town, which resulted in the creation of four councilmanic districts. While this “clearly signifies a major change in town government,” the supervisor said, her role “remains exactly the same.”
“I always have and always will, continue to represent all residents in our wonderful town,” Carpenter said. “Our town board members... will always work with the best interests of the town as a whole in mind. I, along with my colleagues, are listening.”
While 2020 was full of difficulties, Carpenter said, it was also a year of triumph.
“We must be steadfast and remain vigilant to see each other through to the other side of this difficult time in our nation’s history. We faced challenges and obstacles, and by working together, we’ve proven we can overcome them. We’ve had to adapt, we’ve faced change and faced new challenges… but change can also bring new opportunities,” she said.
Carpenter, who has served as supervisor of Islip Town since March 2015, concluded by thanking the community for placing their trust in her and the town board. She reminded residents to stay safe and move forward as one.
“Together – six feet apart and with a mask on for now – but forward together, nevertheless,” she said. “Continue to practice common-sense safety protocols. Keep social distancing, wash your hands, wear those masks and go out there and get your vaccine. Thank you, please be safe, and may God bless our town,” Carpenter concluded