Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine Talks about the Latest Accomplishments and the Town’s Future at LIMBA

Ed Romaine (fourth from left), Supervisor, Town of Brookhaven, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting on June 7 at Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma. Also pictured (left to right): Dr. Ann-Marie Scheidt, Member, Board of Directors, Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency; James M. Tullo, Deputy Director; Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency; Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA; Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA; Andrew Kaufman, President, Brookhaven Rail Terminal Long Island; Bill Miller, Treasurer, LIMBA; and Lori J. LaPonte, Chief Financial Officer, Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency. Brookhaven Rail Terminal Long Island and the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency were the event’s sponsors.

On June 7, Ed Romaine, Supervisor, Town of Brookhaven spoke about the town’s latest accomplishments and where he expects the town to be heading at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting, which took place on June 7 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma.

Mr. Romaine noted that the town has a bond rating of AAA — the highest bond rating a town can receive — and was the first town on Long Island to pay off its pension debt. He said the first thing the town does is pay off its debt so that it does not have to pay for operational expenses.

On the issue of code enforcement, Mr. Romaine said its officers have been cracking down on “zombie homes,” which he said are blights on neighborhoods and drive down the property values of the surrounding homes. Since Mr. Romaine has been in office, 275 zombie homes have been taken down and four more are scheduled to be demolished. Those homes left in disrepair are boarded up by the town.

“We are sending a message: if you don’t maintain your home, we’ll board it up,” Mr. Romaine said. “We are serious when it comes to code enforcement.”

Mr. Romaine said one way for the government to save money is through consolidation, adding that Brookhaven was the only town in the state to receive a consolidation grant in the amount of $20 million to work with other municipalities in consolidating its services. Under his leadership, Mr. Romaine dissolved four water districts, saving town residents money, as well as two emergency services districts, and combined all six erosion districts on Fire Island into one district.

Other examples of consolidation include property tax collection on behalf of other municipalities (this is being done for the Village of Bellport); a regional truck washing facility for other towns and villages, highway departments, school districts and fire districts to use; and a digital recordkeeping facility where other town and municipal clerks can store their records without wasting paper.

Another cost-saving measure is the use of alternative energy. Mr. Romaine said reducing energy use not only reduces Brookhaven’s carbon footprint, but it will save the taxpayers money. Overall, the town has used 2.3 million fewer kilowatts of electricity, reduced greenhouse gases by 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide and, through the use of electric vehicles, brought down its consumption of goal by 100,000 gallons a year. Mr. Romaine also supports the idea of installing solar panels on newly built homes, but he emphasized that it should be an incentive, not a mandate like some environmental groups and elected officials want it to be.

As Supervisor, Mr. Romaine has championed environmental and quality-of-life issues in Brookhaven, while strengthening Town finances. He spearheaded legislation to protect the Carmans River in his first year in office and introduced a package of legislation that has strengthened the Town’s housing codes. Mr. Romaine has also reduced millions of dollars in pipeline debt and maintained the Town’s strong credit rating.

Mr. Romaine was a member of the Suffolk County Legislature and was later elected Suffolk County Clerk, serving for 16 years. He has been the Brookhaven Town Supervisor since 2012.

For more information, or for a list of upcoming events, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Dr. John T. Tanacredi Speaks on “Our Coastlines Under Siege” at LIMBA Meeting

John T. Tanacredi, Ph.D. (third from left), Professor of Earth & Environmental Studies, Molloy College and Director, Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Oceans Monitoring (CERCOM) at Molloy College, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting that was held on May 24 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma. Also pictured (left to right): Robert W. Doyle, Jr., Partner, Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, LLP; Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA; Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA; Reza Ebrahimi and Patrick B. Fife, Partners, Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP; and Bill Miller, Treasurer, LIMBA. CERCOM at Molloy College and Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP were the event’s sponsors. Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, LLP is LIMBA’s annual sponsor.

On May 24, John T. Tanacredi, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Environmental Research and Coastal Monitoring (CERCOM), presented “Our Coastlines Under Siege” at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma. Dr. Tanacredi discussed the health of the Long Island coastal ecosystem and the effects that it has on the overall health of Long Island’s environment.

An estuary, simply put, is “where the river meets the sea.” It is partially surrounded by land, and the water is a mixture of freshwater and salt water. An example of an estuary is a bay or a harbor. According to Dr. Tanacredi, estuaries provide food and breeding areas for more than 70% of seafood catch in U.S. waters, which is worth $10 billion to the nation’s economy. However, he said the estuaries are being endangered, mostly by development and related pollution sources, such as precipitation.

Dr. Tanacredi spoke about the importance of preserving the Great South Bay. In order to protect the waterway’s ecological quality, which is robust and healthy, there must be an inventory of living resources before talking about the environmental impact on the Bay and continuous monitoring.

The U.S coastline is also thought to be in danger. Dr. Tanacredi said that the ocean level has been raised by one foot over the past 100 years. Some issues of concern that may have contributed to this problem include manufactured gas plants, sprawl, loss of habitat and sewage treatment plant effectiveness. He added that 124 million people currently live along the U.S. coastline.

While some people argue that climate change is the most important priority, Dr. Tanacredi said it is the least important. He said that reducing the human impact on the environment will affect climate change and that changes to the ecological system occurred long before any human impact occurred.

One of the more important waterways in our area, Dr. Tanacredi said, is Jamaica Bay. In 1969, the National Academy of Science investigated pollution on the Jamaica Bay, where Idlewild (now John F. Kennedy) Airport was looking to extend the runway. It was determined that the pollutants found in the bay would take 30 days to flush out; however, in the late 1980s, it was determined by researchers from Columbia University and the University of Rhode Island that the timeline shrank to seven to 10 days, thanks to new technological advancements in monitoring.

Currently, Dr. Tanacredi has a goal to preserve the population of horseshoe crabs on Long Island. There are 115 breeding and field sites that they monitor throughout the island, as part of Molloy College’s earth and environmental sciences degree program. He said these crustaceans are becoming endangered, as they are being used here for fishing bait. Over 135,000 horseshoe crabs are collected for bait purposes and are issued collecting permits by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for this purpose. “This bait collection for horseshoe crabs must stop,” Dr. Tanacredi said.

Dr. Tanacredi has nearly 45 years of experience in the fields of environmental, ecological and conservation biology, in which he has published more than fifty scientific publications as well as five books. After serving as a meteorologist for the U.S. Navy, he served as an environmental analyst for the U.S. Coast Guard Bridge Administration, then as a research ecologist with the National Park Service and finally as an educator. Over the years, he has held associate positions with many ecological and biological institutions over the years, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Invertebrate Zoology. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from CUNY Richmond College, his Master’s degree from CUNY Hunter College and his Doctorate degree from NYU Polytechnic Institute.

For more information, or for a list of upcoming events, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

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About LIMBA Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

LIMBA Chairman Ernie Fazio Interviews John Cameron about the Future Needs of Long Island

CAPTION: John Cameron (second from left), Chairman, Long Island Regional Planning Council, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma on January 25. Also pictured (left to right): Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA; Bill Miller, Treasurer, LIMBA; Reza Ebrahimi and Patrick Fife, Partners, Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo LLP, the event’s sponsor.

On January 25, John Cameron, Chairman, Long Island Regional Planning Council, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma. Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA, interviewed Mr. Cameron on the status of Long Island’s economy, transportation needs and infrastructure.

Mr. Cameron talked about how he formed his own company, Cameron Engineering, starting out with only $5,000 in the bank. He was greatly influenced by the book The Power Broker, a biography of Robert Moses, who was credited with the creation of Long Island’s roadway system. Mr. Cameron emphasized the fact that Mr. Moses was initially a very idealistic person, but never accomplishing anything changed his ways. When Mr. Moses designed the highway system, Mr. Cameron said, he did not take mass transit into account.

His company was one of the engineering firms chosen to be a part of the Ronkonkoma Hub project at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station. Mr. Cameron said the proposed project is at an ideal location because of the second track and the proposed third track that will be built, its location near four of the exits off the Long Island Expressway and its proximity to Long Island MacArthur Airport.

In late 2010, the Council released the Long Island Regional Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, or LI 2035, which assesses Long Island’s position in terms of environmental, social and economic sustainability and identifies the key opportunity areas and issues of concern among Long Islanders from across the region. Among the areas the plan covered were taxes and spending, the economy, infrastructure, the environment and equity. By “equity,” Mr. Cameron meant that those who are not well-represented in the population will have a voice on what they want to see on Long Island in the coming years and are part of the solutions being developed.

The two biggest challenges Long Island is facing, according to Mr. Cameron, are the tax burdens that residents face and the lack of diversity in housing. He mentioned that Long Islanders face high taxes and legacy costs, with two-thirds of their tax bills consisting of school taxes. The school tax burden comes, not just from teacher’s salaries and benefits, but also from over 500 unfunded mandates, for which school districts have to bear the cost.

On the issue of consolidation, Mr. Cameron said the districts can remove the upper echelon of school administrators, and, yet, that will still not alleviate the high tax burden because of the unfunded mandates. When a group fights to eliminate these mandates, Mr. Cameron said, a stronger lobbying group will fight to have these mandates remain in place. He added that the teachers’ unions are the strongest influence in creating educational policy; in addition, the U.S. spends the most on education than any other nation, yet the country does not finish in the top 20 in student performance.

The conversation turned to Long Island’s infrastructure. Mr. Cameron emphasized the need to provide sewer systems on Long Island, but the issue is money: although the federal government has provided funding in past years, that has been used up by the capital costs involved in installing sewer systems. He also said Long Island’s roads desperately need to be repaired. When Mr. Fazio asked him if he would support a 10-cent-per-gallon surcharge, Mr. Cameron said he would, stating such an increase would be negligible and also necessary, since the state has cut funding for all road improvement projects here on Long Island.

In addition to serving as Chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, Mr. Cameron is the Founder and Managing Partner of Cameron Engineering & Associates, LLP, with offices in Woodbury, New York City and White Plains. He is an engineering graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from Long Island University. He also serves on numerous boards, including the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, the Hofstra University and Stony Brook University Engineering Schools, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and others.

For more information, or for a list of upcoming events, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Ed Wehrheim Shares the Latest Developments in Smithtown Since Becoming Town Supervisor at LIMBA

CAPTION: Ed Wehrheim (third from left), Supervisor, Town of Smithtown, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma on January 11. He is joined by (left to right) X. Cristofer Damianos, Principal, Damianos Realty Group; John Tsunis, Chief Executive Officer, Gold Coast Bank; Bill Miller, Treasurer, LIMBA; Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA; and Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA. Gold Coast Bank was the event’s sponsor.

On January 11, Ed Wehrheim, Supervisor, Town of Smithtown, spoke at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma to discuss the latest developments in Smithtown since becoming town supervisor.

After defeating a 40-year incumbent in the primary in September 2017, he went on to be elected Town Supervisor in November 2017 and took office in January 2018. Since then, Mr. Wehrheim said, he has taken the Town of Smithtown in a new direction, including how town agencies operate. Under the previous administration, the agencies acted autonomously; now, they are encouraged to make recommendations to the Town Board, but it is the Town Board who decides what recommendations should be implemented.

When he previously served as Town Councilman, he said he saw a lot of discord and fractured relationships. Under Mr. Wehrheim’s leadership, he has gotten the Town Board members to work together and pull their own weight to “make Smithtown great again.” This includes updating Smithtown’s Master Comprehensive Plan — which has not been updated for more than 50 years — and revising the town code, which was last updated in the 1970s.

Mr. Wehrheim also discussed the improvements being made at three of its business districts. Improvements at the Kings Park Business District include renovations at Flynn Memorial Park, which has been the site of the USSSA Softball Championships. These renovations are expected to be completed by next year — just in time for the softball tournament to return. A solar farm in the district is near completion, and the FC Barcelona professional soccer team is looking to build its own complex, with a price tag of $50-60 million.

The Smithtown Business District will see expanded cross-street parking on Bellemeade Avenue, which will benefit businesses along the Route 25 corridor, and plans for a mixed-use building across the street from Town Hall that will consist of retail establishments and 72 market-rate apartments. Meanwhile, the St. James Business District will have new water mains installed and new streetscaping projects as a result of an $8 million appropriation fund from the state. The state Legislature also provided the town with $3.9 million to place dry sewer mains along the Lake Avenue corridor.

In making government more open and transparent, Mr. Wehrheim said he has the board meeting agendas placed on the town’s website the Friday before the scheduled meeting. He has also enforced a three-minute time limit at the board meetings so that everyone has a chance to speak. The meetings will be streamed on GTV and residents can download the Town of Smithtown app on their smartphones to stay apprised of any town emergencies such as school closings and road closures.

In showing the town’s fiscal strength, Mr. Wehrheim said the town has an AAA bond rating, which is considered to be the best rating. He added that Smithtown was one of only three townships in the state that was rated “fiscally stress-free” by the New York State Comptroller’s office.

Prior to entering public service, Mr. Wehrheim served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. In 1972, he joined the town’s Department of Parks, Building and Grounds; he became director of the department in 1989 and stayed in that position until 2003. Soon after his retirement, he was elected Town Councilman. In 2018, he became Town Supervisor. 4

For more information, or for a list of upcoming events, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.