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.
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.