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Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer Discusses Town’s Latest Developments at LIMBA

Rich Schaffer (third from right), Supervisor, Town of Babylon, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma on October 11. Also pictured (left to right): Frederick Johs, Partner, Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, LLP; John Tsunis, Chief Executive Officer, Gold Coast Bank; Bill Miller, Treasurer; Ernie Fazio, Chairman; and Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA; and Kevin Gershowitz, President, Gershow Recycling. Gold Coast Bank was one of the event’s sponsors. Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles, LLP and Gershow Recycling are the annual sponsors.

On October 11, Rich Schaffer, Supervisor, Town of Babylon, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting to discuss the latest developments in the town. The meeting was held at Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma.

Mr. Schaffer said that, seven years after Superstorm Sandy hit Long Island, the town is still working on infrastructural improvements. This includes fixing the bridges in the American Venice community and implementing drainage improvement and road elevation projects to avoid future flooding.

The town is in a resurgence, according to Mr. Schaffer, with new development projects taking off, thanks to help with other entities and municipalities. For example, he worked with the town’s Industrial Development Agency and the Village of Lindenhurst to bring in a 260-unit apartment building on the corner of Wellwood and Hoffman Avenues. In addition, another project is in the works on Wellwood Avenue to convert shuttered buildings into restaurants, breweries and stores along the corridor.

In addition, the town’s Planning Department is overseeing a proposed hotel near the Babylon train station, and Mr. Schaffer is working with the Planning Department and a working group on the five-phase Greybarn development project, which is halfway complete. The IDA purchased a piece of property next to Greybarn which will be converted into a business workspace, which will give local residents the opportunity to work remotely. There is also a plan to build underground parking near the MLK Health Center at Straight Path

These projects are a victory against the NIMBYism that runs through the town, Mr. Schaffer said. “We ask them, ‘What do you want us to do? You complain about the empty buildings and storefronts. You have to give me some ideas.’”

The three villages in Babylon — Amityville, Babylon and Lindenhurst — are in a shared services agreement with the town, according to Mr. Shaffer. The town makes its services available to these villages, which, in turn, pay for these services.

On the topic of energy, Mr. Schaffer said the town has switch from incandescent to LED-based lighting at its facilities. As a result, the town’s electricity bills have dropped dramatically. When discussing the Williams pipeline, he said he supports it and that he has sent letters to the Long Island state senators urging them to fight the governor’s plan to shut down the pipeline. While he understands the concerns posed by the environmentalists, Mr. Schaffer said, “You can’t stop progress.”

Mr. Schaffer also announced that the town received a bond rating of AAA — the highest possible bond rating a municipality can receive. This was accomplished, he said, by holding the line on property taxes and setting up a surplus in the budget.

Prior to becoming Town Supervisor, Mr. Schaffer was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 1988, 1989 and 1991. In 2011, the position for supervisor became vacant when Steve Bellone was elected Suffolk County Executive. Mr. Schaffer was appointed to the post by the Town Board. He is currently Babylon’s longest-serving supervisor.

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