Budget Increase: Fact versus Fiction
On Thursday, March 31, 2016, as Mayor, I presented to the full Board my proposed, tentative 2016-2017 budget for the Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach. The budget I proposed for the Board’s consideration will help fund the necessary positive changes required to move our Village forward. This budget will increase Village taxes by approximately one dollar a day per household. This increase is in response to the residents’ pleas for the Village to continue tackling the complicated issues of illegal houses, blight and the crumbling infrastructure we face here in Mastic Beach.
This is how I propose we should allocate this money. First, $300.00 of the tax-cost is directly related to sanitation services which includes: curbside garbage, recycling, bulk and brush pick-ups. The remainder of the Village taxes will be allocated to cover the costs of all other services, which include the Building Department, the Department of Public Works, the Public-Safety Department, Village Hall and soon-to-be a major capital expenditure, the Parks Department. As a Village, we are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of 4.5 square miles, including eighty-eight (88) miles of roads, six miles of waterfront, a marina, stick docks, hundreds of storm-drains, and 5,400 homes (of which nearly 2,000 are estimated to be rentals). To keep this tax increase in perspective, the budget for running this Village is still less than the LIBRARY tax, which is, on average, $550.00 a year per home.
Let’s examine what I have done to lead the Village to “clean up the mess.” In the five years we have been a Village, there has never been a Capital-Infrastructure Budget. Our roads are deteriorating at a greater rate than DPW can maintain with a 5-person crew. With the price of oil and asphalt on the rise, the longer we wait to begin these necessary capital expenditures, the more costly it will become. An expense that once was shared by others in the Town, now places the burden of paying for these roads squarely on the 5,400 Village property taxpayers alone.
Since becoming a Village home values have continued to plummet even though they have gone up everywhere else on Long Island and across the country. Because the number of blighted, vacant zombie homes has increased and not decreased since becoming a Village, the assessments on properties bought at these discounted rates determine that we collect less in taxes per household. This means the same tax rate will yield less tax revenues for the Village than in past years.
The Village outlook is not all doom and gloom. The Village of Mastic Beach certainly had some incredibly positive changes over the last year by increasing services in response to the residents’ needs and requests and fining the most blighted properties. My team, thus year, has brought more than one-hundred (100) illegal rentals into compliance; a one-thousand percent (1000%) increase from all the previous years combined. (In the first five years of this Village, only forty-five (45) illegal rentals were brought into compliance.)
My team, working with the police, have shut down dozens and dozens of squatter homes. We have boarded up dangerous, blighted and abandoned properties. Keep in mind that not one squatter home was shut down in the first five years of this Village. More than sixty (60) blighted homes have been ticketed and brought into compliance using the Blighted Home Law that former Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa sponsored and was able to get passed into law.
My administration has developed an excellent working relationship with the Suffolk County Police Department. In the past year, by utilizing Operation Take-Back, five active drug houses were boarded up, the police made multiple arrests, and a wanted, alleged murderer was apprehended and extradited back to North Carolina. A top priority of my administration continues to rid this community of criminals and make it safer for our residents. The previous administration only had three Operation Clean-Sweeps, in 5 years, which resulted in shutting down only five homes.
In order to keep addressing the undesirable criminal element that continues to plague our community, the flawed, impractical, untenable, and illogical theory of being “tax-neutral” must be put to rest. There is not one Village on Long Island or in New York State whose taxes are less than their Town’s. In life, as in government, you get what you pay for.
If the residents are not willing to pay for the services and staff that are required to “clean up the mess,” then they cannot expect to get rid of this undesirable element that is destroying our quality of life.
Lastly, I would like to make it crystal clear that this is MY PROPOSED, TENTATIVE BUDGET. I do not control the majority of the board, the rest of the board is free to suggest, and approve, any budget that they deem appropriate. Should the majority want to continue down the road of “Tax Neutrality” and “Limited Services” that is certainly within the majority’s power. I continue to put forward the same ideas and principles that I have steadfastly held to be true for the past seven years.
To make Mastic Beach Village better, the people need to decide what they want our village to become through the comprehensive-planning process, and we need to be willing to make an investment in that future. I want Mastic Beach to be successful. I want our property values to rise, but you can’t take a broken down house, do nothing to improve it and expect it to be the home of your dreams. It just doesn’t work that way.
Mayor Maura Spery
Village of Mastic Beach's Operation Take-Back Continues
The joint effort between the Village of Mastic Beach, Suffolk County Police Department and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department has led to arrests and evictions in Mastic Beach Village.
MARCH 29, 2016, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: As a continuation of Operation Take-Back, on Thursday, March 24, 2016, the Village of Mastic Beach Public-Safety Department, led by Supervisor Michael Maffei, along with the Village Building Department and Fire Marshal’s Office, supported the Suffolk County Police Department Seventh Precinct Gang Unit, Suffolk County Police Department Seventh Precinct Narcotics Unit, and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, in the police department’s successful execution of warrants at 89 Orchid Drive. The warrants resulted in seven (7) arrests, four (4) of which were for narcotics.
The search warrant served by Suffolk County Seventh Precinct led to a quantity of heroin and crack cocaine recovered from the location. Additionally, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department executed two (2) eviction warrants at the residence. Numerous Building- and Code-violation summonses were issued by the Village and the residence was deemed unfit for human habitation.
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa said, “The work Maura, Betty and I did to cultivate the relationships between the Suffolk County Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department as well as putting into law the Vacant and Blighted Home List I instituted gives future Trustees the tools to rid our community of drug-dealing squatters. I hope in the future they actually use these tools to make Mastic Beach a better place to live and work.”
Mayor Maura Spery said, “I am so proud of the work that our new Public-Safety Supervisor Michael Maffei has done in such a short amount of time. His experience and professionalism are the keys to cleaning up the Village of Mastic Beach. He has met with Suffolk County Police Commissioner Sini, Inspector McCarthy and various others within the Seventh Precinct to devise a course of action for the betterment of Mastic Beach. I believe that what we have seen here is just the beginning of removing the criminal element from our community.”
Mastic Beach Village Comprehensive Plan Begins
The first Steering Committee Meeting for the Village Mastic Beach Comprehensive Plan was run by Wendel and Vision Long Island. They outlined the process for the upcoming months in Mastic Beach Village.
MARCH 10, 2016, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: On May 13, 2014, the Village of Mastic Beach began the first steps in creating a Comprehensive Plan. The Village solicited Requests for Proposals (RFP) and the Board at the time, comprised of Biondi, Stiriz, Busa, Spery and Summa, unanimously approved the hiring of Wendel Company to oversee the plan on August 12, 2014. The Proposal included having Vision Long Island serve as Community Outreach to the project.
In December of 2015, the Village of Mastic Beach won nearly $43,000 in grants to help pay for the cost of a Comprehensive Plan. With the acceptance of these grant dollars, the Mayor sent out invitations to all the Village’s civic, religious, business and emergency leaders throughout the community. These stakeholders in the future of the Village met at the first Steering Committee Meeting on March 5, 2016. In attendance were Dean Gowanl and Ellen Parker of Wendel Company working with Eric Alexander, Tawaun Weber, and Jon Siebert of Vision Long Island.
Wendel and Vision outlined the tasks of the Steering Committee and explained how they will oversee the development and preparation of the Comprehensive Plan, how Vision Long Island will be compiling community input and how the Steering Committee Members will be the voice of their respective institutions. The Steering Committee representatives will go back and report what is going on at the Steering Committee Meetings to their members.
Wendel and Vision Long Island will create a community profile and inventory by gathering existing data, studies and information from prior planning studies, including Town of Brookhaven, New York Rising and Army Corp of Engineers. Wendel will also collect GIS data on resources such as floodplain maps, mapped wetlands, roads, demographics, land use, zoning, waterfront, environmental resources, and local assets. Wendel will identify questions, issues and opportunities that face the Village. The Planning Team will look at how the community is developing now and look for data and trend methodologies to help guide future development. The assessment extends to regional patterns and how Mastic Beach Village inter-relates to the surrounding communities.
The step-by-step Comprehensive Plan will incorporate a robust public outreach process designed to identify and understand the community’s vision for future development and preservation of Mastic Beach. This process will include public workshops and design “charrettes,” focused sessions. The goal is to reach as many residents, business owners and other stakeholders as possible, to create a consensus for the Village of Mastic Beach’s future for the short- and long-term. The Planning Team will prioritize these projects through public input and in collaboration with the project Steering Committee. Wendel and Vision Long Island will be on hand at each meeting to provide guidance and refer to the standards outlined by hundreds of successful past developed municipal Comprehensive Plans.
By applying general-planning principles, Wendel will summarize the findings and make recommendations designed to help the Village of Mastic Beach achieve its goals and objectives. The Plan will address key issues brought up by the public during the planning process. The Wendel Team will enhance the Comprehensive Plan with concept designs (site specific illustrative plans) for critical areas in Mastic Beach. These conceptual models will help to enable Mastic Beach to realize a “vision” and will facilitate future grant submittal, making it easier for the Village to solicit support and funding in the future.
Wendel will prioritize the actions and determine a reasonable timeline for what can be accomplished in the “immediate,” “short-term” and “long-term” time frames. Accordingly, Wendel will provide an estimated cost of the action, and where possible, potential funding sources. In cooperation with the Steering Committee, Wendel will prepare a Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) and assist the Village with the Coordinated Review process. The adoption of the Comprehensive Plan document is a Type 1 Action under SEQRA, which requires a Coordinated Review between SEQRA referrals to the State and County. They will send out Lead Agency mailings to involved and interested agencies and prepare required postings to the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB).
As each task is completed, Wendel will provide draft chapters of the plan document, along with related graphics and mapping, to the Steering Committee for its review and comment. These sections will include Inventory and Analysis, Goals and Objectives, Findings and Recommendations and Implementation Strategy, as well as Environmental Review Section. These previously reviewed sections will be compiled into a preliminary Draft Plan document. Wendel will provide copies of the Preliminary Draft Plan to the Steering Committee for its input and comments. Following the acceptance of the initial draft document, the Committee will refer the Plan to the Village Board with a recommendation for adoption.
The first workshop which is is open to the public, will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at William Paca Junior High School 338 Blanco Drive just off Mastic Road. The consultant team of Wendel Company and Vision Long Island will be on hand to introduce the project and to listen to comments, concerns, and ideas from the public. If you cannot attend the public workshop, please contact Vision Long Island at email@example.com or call 631-261-0242.
With Wendel and Vision’s help, the Mastic Beach community will move forward and get a leg up for grants, future funding and put us on the first step toward shovel-ready projects for years to come.
This is the beginning of something special. By Mayor Maura Spery.
FEBRUARY 4, 2016, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: In 2014, the Board passed a resolution to retain Wendel Associates to implement the Comprehensive Plan. Wendel, working with Vision Long Island, will create the document with intensive community input by Mastic Beach Village residents.
The Comprehensive Action Plan will begin with a Steering Committee round table of community leaders from a wide variety of different groups in Mastic Beach Village. Representatives from each of these different organizations will be gathering the input from the members of their respective organizations. These representative leaders, with their dedication to the area and institutional memory, will fundamentally lay out the foundation for the Comprehensive Plan. There will be public meetings, brainstorming sessions, and surveys where the public will give their input toward the plan.
A well constructed Comprehensive Plan is the first step in having shovel-ready projects in place when funding arrives. We lost out on a great deal of funding after Superstorm Sandy because we had no plan in place. As this Village moves forward that will no longer happen.
On Thursday, December 10th, the Village of Mastic Beach won two (2) grants totaling $42,175 that we will be using for the Comprehensive Planning Process. The first grant is for $17,175 through the Local Waterfront-Revitalization Program (LWRP) funded by the New York State Department of State (DOS) Division of Planning (DOP). The LWPR grant will fund part of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan designated for waterfront revitalization.
To satisfy the conditions of the grant, the Comprehensive Plan will address the issues that affect the Village’s entire waterfront. By developing this Comprehensive Plan, Village residents will provide direction for revitalization by addressing sustainability, resiliency and energy efficiency. The Village of Mastic Beach, which was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, will conduct a studied review of its community’s waterfront, addressing the new dynamics on the waterfront resulting from coastal storms.
The second grant won by the Village of Mastic Beach is for $25,000 to implement the Comprehensive Plan, which will include strategic planning and a feasibility study to transform the Village’s downtown into a walkable business district. Funded by the Empire State Development (ESD) Strategic Planning and Feasibility Study (SPFS), this grant will be added to the community driven Comprehensive Plan. A condition of this grant is that part of the Comprehensive Plan must focus on the Mastic Beach Village Business District and design it to be safe and enjoyable for pedestrians.
We are excited to see the ideas the people of Mastic Beach Village formulate because this planning process is for the long term and our community’s children will certainly be the beneficiaries of our cooperative efforts.
MASTIC BEACH RELEASES SECOND FORENSIC INVESTIGATION RESULTS OF VILLAGE FINANCIAL RECORDS
Mastic Beach Board authorized a forensic investigation to examine past financial practices.
JANUARY 21ST, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: In December 2015, the Village of Mastic Beach released the report issued in connection with the first of a two-part forensic investigation conducted by Cramer C.P.A., P.C. into various Village financial activities. Robin A. Cramer, President of Cramer C.P.A., P.C., has more than 25 years of industry experience and holds the following accreditations—Certified Public Accountants (C.P.A.), Certified Financial Forensics (C.F.F.) and Certified Fraud Examiner (C.F.E.). The findings of the first report can be found on www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/audits under the link VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH FORENSIC AUDIT PART 1 - VILLAGE INCEPTION–APRIL 2015. The first investigation uncovered grave concerns in the financial practices of the Village before April 2015 including:
- Payroll records were altered and missing;
- Overtime expenditures were manipulated;
- Undocumented cash handling and missing cash-receipt records;
- Inadequate cash depositing by unknown individuals;
- Missing financial records;
- Sporadic record keeping of building-permit payments
The report issued in connection with the second part of this forensic investigation will be released on January 21, 2016, and can be found on the Village website www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/audits under the link VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH FORENSIC AUDIT PART 2 - ROBINHOOD FOUNDATION. This investigation uncovered mismanagement by the Village of donated funds to Sandy Victims from the Robin Hood Foundation. At the heart of thereport on the Robin Hood Grant Receivedare these grave concerns:
- There was no timely filing of the final accounting of the Village’s Robin Hood Foundation accounts;
- The Village did not keep records properly;
- The Village did not disperse the moneytimely or file for extensions;
- The Village did not award proper amounts as per the Robin Hood Foundation guidelines;
- The Village issued checks to vendors that were not approved by the Village Board in accordance with the Robin Hood Foundation protocol. One of these checks were issued on behalf of a former Trustee who was serving on the Board at the time;
- Seven instances that award recipients changed vendors after vendor payments were approved by the Village Board, and one such charge was made for a recipient serving on the board as Trustee at the time and who was in charge of monitoring Robin Hood Foundation fund disbursements;
- The Village gave out gift cards, and there is no accounting of who received them or on what the recipients spent their money;
- 58% of the applications filed with the Village were improperly handled;
- Only 42% of the total applications were duly awarded. More people received money improperly than properly;
- Ten applications were erroneously denied;
- The Village did not consistently follow the guidelines laid out by the Robin Hood Foundation especially when applying the income-eligibility criteria, so some of the people most in need did not get the funding;
- Disbursements did not agree with awards;
- The Village awarded more funding than was received from the Robin Hood Foundation and the Village’s accounts were never reconciled. This led to the question, “Why would the Village disperse more money than it received from the Robin Hood Foundation?”
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa said, “Mayor Spery and this administration are commended for taking the initiative and bringing financial accountability and transparency to the Village of Mastic Beach. The Comptroller’s Office highly recommends that local municipalities undergo a forensic audit every five years to keep the leadership accountable and the financial house in order—we did just that—we uncovered some very disturbing financial practices in this audit, and we fixed them. Our Village is standing on secure financial ground because of the forensic investigation conducted.”
Mayor Maura Spery added, “We continue to improve on our Village systems, policies and procedures. The Information-Technology Audit is still underway, and we expect a report in the next few months.”
The Forensic Investigation Reports Part 1 and 2 can be found on the Village website www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/audits.
End-of-Year Reflections by Mayor Maura P. Spery
Looking Back on 2015
At the end of the year, I like to take the time to reflect on what has been accomplished and plan what goals the Village Board wishes to achieve. I am happy to say it has been a wildly successful year here in the Village of Mastic Beach and we have the great people of this wonderful Village to thank. I have always said, “The residents of Mastic Beach are simply the best people around.” I would like to add to that statement by saying, “The whole Mastic Beach community—residents, business and civic leaders, and Village staff—are the best people anywhere. I couldn’t be prouder to be your Mayor. Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season and a fabulous New Year.
2015 Goals and Accomplishments
• Meeting Minutes written complete and published in a timely fashion.
• Public meetings video recorded and posted on website.
• Public notices posted on website.
• New and improved Village website and identity.
• Increased tickets, fees and fines to illegal rentals.
• Increased rental-permit enforcement.
• Improved relationships with other elected officials and policy-makers in the other layers of government.
• Paved Mastic Road.
• Potholes filled.
• Cleaned Department of Public Works yard and building.
• Cleaned up Neighborhood Road and Village Hall.
• “Operation Take Back” shutting down vacant homes.
• Vacant homes “Boarded and Secured.”
• Restructured the Building Department.
• Established evening Building-Department hours that are convenient for residents.
• Building Department files organized.
• Zoning brought into compliance with Town, County and State.
• Created a Vacant Homes Matrix (VHM) to start the rehabilitation of vacant homes.
• Blighted Properties Initiative Point System (BPIS).
• Created an Office of Emergency Management.
• National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliance and fully operational emergency-management center.
• Increased transparency with a Village newsletter mailed every 100 days, email alerts to residents and daily social-media updates.
• Forensic audit to straighten out the financials.
• Forensic IT Audit to better protect residents information.
• Appointed Neighborhood Aide to assist residents with: Code Issues, NYRising, Permits, etc.
• NYRising Community Revitalization Projects (CRP).
• Established Suffolk County Police Department relief station at Village Hall.
• Established Citizens’ Committees.
• Bringing business to our Main Streets.
• Village Hall office restructuring.
• Created policy and controls for Village operations.
• Aggressively pursuing grant funding.
2016 Goals for our future
• Begin the community-based Comprehensive Plan.
• Work with Senator Croci to help residents work through NYRising paperwork.
• Work with Congressman Zeldin and Senators Gillibrand and Schumer to get residents additional FEMA monies for residents.
• Inputting records and permits to computer software to reflect code, regulations and fee schedules.
• Work with Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning’s Office and Suffolk County to install new sidewalks to Bayview Park.
• Reface Village Hall with a new clock (Chamber fund-raiser).
• Work with the County to get sewers to our Main Streets.
• Work with Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilperson Dan Panico to complete projects at Robert Miller Memorial Park at Legion Field, Bayview Park and Osprey Park.
• Make Village Hall more energy efficient.
• Work with NYRising to complete projects already started to upgrade our storm-water system, which will protect our waterways from pollution and prevent flooding.
• Working with the Governor, Senator Croci, Assembly-member Dean Murray, County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Kate Browning to revitalize the Commercial Waterfront District at Violet Cove.
• Create a working Marina at Marina 5.
• Work on the docks of Pattersquash Creek.
• Update Beaches at Jefferson and Washington.
• Work with the other layers of government to get an additional railroad crossing to reduce local traffic congestion.
MASTIC BEACH RELEASES FORENSIC INVESTIGATION RESULTS OF VILLAGE FINANCIAL RECORDS
Mastic Beach Board authorized audit to examine past financial practices.
DECEMBER 16TH, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: In May 2015, the Village of Mastic Beach Board passed a resolution to undergo a self-imposed forensic audit of the Village financial records. Mayor Maura Spery called for this resolution in response to concerns by then-Interim Village Attorney David Eldridge regarding reports from the new administration about how money had been handled.
Village Attorney Guy Germano stated, “The Village hiredCramer CPA, P.C. to conduct a forensic investigation of various Village activities. Robin A. Cramer, President of Cramer CPA, P.C., has over 25 years of industry experience and holds the following accreditations - Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Certified Financial Forensics (CFF) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Ms. Cramer managed the investigation and the findings have been summarized in a report. This report was delivered on December 14, 2015 to the Mayor, Village Attorney, and Village Clerk. The Village Clerk distributed the reportto the entire Board of Trustees prior to the public meeting. The Board discussed the report and results of the forensic investigation at the December Public Meeting on Tuesday, December 15th, 2015, at 7 p.m. (Village Hall, 369 Neighborhood Road, Mastic Beach, New York 11951). The report has been made public on the Village website.”
Mayor Maura Spery said, “We had serious concerns about the cash management and depositing procedures of the past administration. Our current Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer brought up alarming questions about financial records that did not exist and State-mandated payroll procedures that were not followed. We had no choice but to conduct an investigation. The taxpayers have the right to this information so they can understand just how their money was handled.”
At the heart of this report are these grave concerns that occurred before April 2015:
Payroll records were altered and missing;
Overtime expenditures were manipulated;
Undocumented cash handling and missing cash-receipt records;
Inadequate cash depositing by unknown individuals;
Missing financial records;
Sporadic record keeping of building-permit payments;
A culture of corruption that allowed for the misappropriation of funds.
Trustee Elizabeth “Betty” Manzella stated, “This report is validation that our Village leaders are on the right path to fix the challenges that face Mastic Beach Village. The forensic investigation exposed that under past administrations, mismanagement of cash, manipulation of timesheets and improper protocols were commonplace. While critics dismissed the investigation as some kind of witch-hunt, it is clear that the funds were well spent to identify and correct procedures, and that our administration must continue to work to put our financial house in order. This report is not about pointing fingers or throwing stones but to provide solutions and keep moving our village forward in the right direction.”
Not wanting to delay, Mayor Spery had her finance department put into place checks and balances months ago between the Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer, Department Heads and Board Liaisons to help mitigate against transgressions occurring.
Treasurer Hedy Bluth and Deputy Treasurer Dawn McNeil have created multi-faceted reconciliation processes. Additionally, they have put in place new protocols including: a cash-audit trail, segregation of duties for enhanced internal control and formalized payroll and depositing procedures. The Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer also have put into place procedures that now require Department Heads to sign off on any financial documentation from their department, including expenditures, payroll, and overtime. Moreover, the Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer have established procedures whereby Department Heads are now held accountable to operate within their budgetary allocations. Also, the Board Liaisons have full access to the files and are encouraged to sign off on all expenditures for their department. Working closely with the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Treasurer Bluth has been successful in correcting past reporting errors and omissions.
Treasurer Hedy Bluth said, “The Board has been diligently checking the financial reports for each of their departments. Monthly financial-assessment reports are given to the Board of Trustees and monthly abstracts are filed with the Village Clerk. Everyone has been very proactive double checking the Village’s financial abstracts at the monthly meeting. The Board is well aware of current spending and is helping to ensure that departmental finances are in order.”
Mayor Maura Spery added, “We continue to improve on our Village systems, policies and procedures. The Information-Technology Audit is still underway, and we expect a report in the next few months.”
The Forensic Investigation Report can be found on the Village website www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/audits.
The Village of Mastic Beach sends Season’s Greetings to our community!
There have been a great many holiday events in and around the Village of Mastic Beach in the past weeks; each event showed the incredible ways our community comes together in peace and joy.
Beginning Thanksgiving, celebrations of good cheer have been spreading throughout the Village. This past week alone, the whole peninsula was in the holiday spirit. Beginning Black Friday and Small-Business Saturday, businesses across the area opened their doors and the holiday songs and cinnamon scents wafted through the air. Everyone got their shopping done (hopefully) and now can take the time to enjoy family, friends, and traditions of the season, and what a wonderful season it is!
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa and I began the week cleaning up the beach at Smith Point County Park with the Cub Scout Pack 138. I want to extend a hearty thank you for Pack Leader Gary Bollman and the Cubs who did a fantastic job making our community look great. That evening, Deputy Mayor Summa went to the Mastic Beach Yacht Club’s Installation Dinner. What a wonderful event honoring their Board of Directors and Commodore Arthur Curley. The following day we went to the pancake breakfast at the American Legion Arthur H. Clune Post 1533. It was a beautiful morning to have pancakes with our community’s veterans.
The first days of December proved to be the most joyous in recent years. The Christmas Tree Lighting at St. Jude was on Tuesday, December 1st at
7 p.m. Pastor Reverend Gregory Yacyshyn said prayers. Grand Knight Ken Olivo lit the Christmas Tree, and the faithful sang Christmas carols. Following the event at St. Jude, the J.V. Kavanaugh Knights of Columbus, Columbiettes and Squirettes invited all to their dessert banquet at their hall. They lit their hall tree at 8 p.m. in unison with other Knights of Columbus across the country.
Grace Lutheran Church kicked off its free Christmas-Movie Evenings on Wednesday, December 2nd and December 9th at 7 p.m. There will be one more movie on andDecember 16th. Check Grace Lutheran’s website www.graceinmb.org for more details.
Thursday, December 3rd was the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association’s annual Holiday Party with a visit from Santa, and members gathered gifts for underprivileged neighborhood children.
Saturday, December 5th Trustee Anne Snyder and I decorated Village Hall’s Gazebo Park with decorations donated by the Mastic Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association. Arik and Nora Getchell, Becky Snyder, Jim Rugen, Ava Torres and Frank Perino from the Village’s Department of Public Works (DPW) came and volunteered to help with the decorating. The Village’s Tree Lighting was at 5 p.m. and was a wonderful event with hot cocoa and cookies. Our local civics represented by Jamie Reason, of the Mastic Peninsula Historical Society; Jill Gross, Treasurer of the Mastic Beach Chamber of Commerce; Lynne DeBona, Financial Secretary of the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association; Chris Riccardi, Vice President of the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association; Jim Rugen from the Mastic Beach Fire Department; Josephine Kramer of the Columbiettes; Officer Bill Erdman and Sergeant Olson from the Suffolk County Police Department. Josh Slaughter came from Legislator Kate Browning’s Office, and Village Trustees Betty Manzella and Anne Snyder were also in attendance. Pastor Ski from the Rushing Wind Biker Church said the prayer and the tree was illuminated by multiple Bone Marrow Transplant Survivor Nora Getchell. We all sang carols and enjoyed each others’ company well into the evening.
Sunday, December 6th was the Chamber of Commerce of Shirley and the Mastics’ Annual Holiday Parade. Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Trustee Manzella and I all enjoyed riding in classic cars. I particularly loved my position in the rumble seat of a 1930 Model A Ford driven and owned by Norm. It was a great parade that showed the amazing community spirit we have here on the peninsula. One of the Grand Marshals was Congress member Lee Zeldin, and the winner of the float contest were the Mastic Fire Department, Mastic Beach Yacht Club and the Mastic Ambulance Company. That evening was also the first night of Hanukkah, before the Menorah Lighting Rabbi Altman hosted a free latke meal for all at the Hebrew Center attended by Village Trustee Betty Manzella, Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning and Officer Tom Schmidt of the Suffolk County Police Department were in attendance. Following the latkes at the Hebrew Center, all went to Gazebo Park where Rabbi Altman led the prayers and Arthur Rosen lit the Village menorah.
December 7th was the Pattersquash Creek Holiday Party with desserts, beverages, light snacks, and hors d’oeuvre. They had a special presentation about Elder-Care Law. They are having an Applebee’s Breakfast Fund raiser on Sunday, January 17th from 8–10 p.m. with the proceeds benefiting the William Floyd High School 2016 scholarships to graduates and Operation Cat Committee Feral Cat Program.
Also, at the end of last week, the Choral Society of Moriches, with orchestra and soloists, presented G.F. Handel’s Messiah on Friday, December 11th at 7:30 p.m. at St. Jude Shrine Roman Catholic Church.
In the spirit of giving, we at Village Hall have begun collecting Toys for Tots, and we ask that everyone with the means donate an unwrapped toy. The box located in the lobby of Village Hall is available during regular business hours. Also, St. Jude Outreach, Agape Community Church, and Friends of Shirley and the Mastics are collecting coats, new clothes and new toys for the less fortunate in our area. Please consider giving so others can have a happy holiday.
I am so proud to be a part of this community and the Mayor of the Village of Mastic Beach. The community spirit and the outpouring of goodwill has been tremendous. A hearty THANK YOU to all the volunteers who donated their time and money to make these events possible. You are the backbone of this community and because of your generosity, the holidays in our Village are incredibly special. Thank you again.
I’d like to wish you and yours a very Happy Advent, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your 2016 be filled with peace and joy.
Warm holiday wishes,
Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach, Mayor Maura P. Spery
“My policy as Mayor has always been
to build the community up.”
My policy as Mayor has always been to rebuild Mastic Beach. The residents have, time and time again, expressed that having a home next door filled with good people paying taxes is better than an empty lot that will cost the village to clean brush and litter. The only exception is for the decrepit, flooded homes in the wetlands that people have abandoned.
I have been working with co-chairpeople of the Quality-of-Life citizens’ committee, former Mayor Paul Breschard and Fred Krage, to advise the Village Board on a recommended process that determines which houses should be condemned and demolished. These choices will be based on public safety, proximity to the floodplain and fiscal prudence. Demolishing one home costs the Village approximately ten thousand dollars ($10,000) plus the loss of tax revenue. We have more than one hundred (100) houses that are being researched to determine if they have been abandoned and are beyond rehabilitation. If a house is beyond repair and the owner has not paid taxes, we must follow those policies for the demolition of condemned homes without prejudice and, for the first time, create a budget that institutes those policies.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa, liaison to the Department of Public Works (DPW), coordinated our first capital project on Mastic Road in September. Our engineers at H2M reviewed the road-paving job and had a few items that were addressed a second time. The additional road paving touch-ups have been completed and I would like to thank Deputy Mayor Summa, Lou Vecchio of Suffolk Asphalt Corp., Bob Young and Rich Piccirello of H2M for their hard work on this project.
Our DPW, in concert with Public-Safety, has boarded up more than thirty (35) unsafe or vacant homes. The teams in DPW and Public-Safety are doing an excellent job taking the first steps to clean up our neighborhood.
Deputy Mayor Summa has empowered the team to straighten up the DPW yard. The DPW team has done a great job cleaning and creating a uniform surface to store sand and salt as well as parking equipment.
In the spring, we anticipate beginning our second capital project, funded by a grant from Suffolk County for a sidewalk, curbing and landscaping from Neighborhood Road to Bayview Park.
PARKS AND RECREATION
When Trustee Anderson declined the liaison position for the Department of Parks and Recreation, I took up my former position that I held when I was a Trustee. I am glad to announce that the two years of hard work I have put in is continuing to pay off.
Councilmember Dan Panico, and the Town of Brookhaven has begun work on the kayak-launching ramp at Bayview Park. Also, construction of a new parking lot that includes head-in-parking along Washington Avenue and curbing at Robert Miller Park, aka the Legion Fields, has begun. We thank Councilmember Panico and Parks Commissioner Ed Morris for all their hard work to make these improvements happen in our Village.
Trustee Elizabeth “Betty” Manzella, liaison to the Building Department and I met with Lisa Bova-Hiatt the Executive Director of New York Rising, Senator Tom Croci and Assemblymember Dean Murray and Bill Doyle from Congressmember Lee Zeldin’s office. We met on October 8th and discussed the commercialization of Violet’s Cove, a Community-Revitalization Project (CRP), along with the revitalization of beaches and wetlands along parts of our waterfront being given to the Village by the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association.
Suffolk County has purchased sixty-two (62) parcels in the wetlands and is preserving them as open space. These properties are mostly along the waterfront and between Violet’s Cove Marina and Marina 5—two properties the Village is in the process of acquiring. We are ecstatic that the County is working toward the preservation of these parcels so they can remain publicly accessible to residents as parkland and keeping the integrity of our unobstructed, open waterfront for the residents while showcasing the beauty of the area from the Village’s two (2) Marinas.
I’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and for Black Friday, please shop local as much as possible.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns.
Maura P. Spery
Mayor, Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach
The Village of Mastic Beach is Cleaning up the Mess and setting the record straight.
Mastic Beach Mayor works with homeowners in an effort to clean up the Village.
OCTOBER 23, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: At the last Village of Mastic Beach public meeting on October 20, 2015, a couple and an attorney made allegations that the Village’s Public-Safety Supervisor entered their house and forced them from their home like squatters. According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the Building Inspector and Brookhaven Animal Control, the Village’s Public-Safety Supervisor never entered the house at 44 Dogwood Road.
The home at 44 Dogwood Road was deemed an illegal rental before the Village Building Inspector legally entered the home with a signed tenant affidavit by Mr. William Cahill indicating that he paid Donald Polinskie $500 a month, for rent in cash, in person. With the assistance of the Suffolk County Police Department and Town of Brookhaven Animal Control, the house was inspected, condemned and deemed unfit for human habitation by Village Building Inspector Teresa Madarasz.
Donald Polinskie and his self-identified live-in girlfriend Jackie Stretch reported in the Long Island Advance, “I pay taxes and hold the title to the home.” Both of those statements are untrue. In fact, according to public records, taxes have not been paid on the property since the Village’s inception. There is a mortgage on the property at Citi Financial. The title is currently held by Building and Housing Inc. (a corporation not currently appearing to be registered in the State of New York).
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa said, “When a business entity owns a property, it is on our radar. We have found these homes have a higher than normal probability to be illegal rentals. This house is a confirmed illegal rental—we have a tenant affidavit—and the building is not safe nor habitable. We cannot in good conscience allow Polinskie, his girlfriend, and his presumed tenant to live in the home in its current state.”
Since 2013, the Village has been receiving complaints of illegal renting and code violations at the 44 Dogwood Road property located on the southwest corner of Woodland Drive. Neighbors, especially those with children, increased complaints when Polinskie allowed a man with a white van to rent a room in his home. The van was parked in the driveway and constantly had extension cords running from the house to the van. The white van had a propeller on the front with eyelashes over the headlights on the exterior, was filled with computer-recording equipment and multiple television screens throughout the interior.
The Long Island Advance reported, the man in the van, “…is a family friend…whom the couple describes as a young man with an unspecified mental disability.” Mayor Maura Spery said, “According to Stretch and Polinskie, the man in the van Mr. William Cahill, is mentally challenged; yet, he is able enough to drive and operate a van with multiple computers and recording equipment. We have recently found in the past that Mr. Cahill has held a Class B CDL license which allowed him to drive not only a van, but a school bus, heavy tanker and hazmat trucks. There has been no proof provided to suggest Mr. Cahill is incapable of executing a tenant affidavit.”
Speaking more generally about the Village’s quality-of-life issues, Deputy Mayor Summa said, “I believe the slumlords are pushing back. We aren’t going to allow them to keep the Village of Mastic Beach their dumping ground.” Deputy Mayor Summa continued, “We were elected to improve the quality-of-life in this village and that is exactly what we will continue to do.”
“We created the Village of Mastic Beach to be a code-enforcement Village. The whole point of incorporation was to ‘clean up the mess’ in our neighborhood and we are doing just that,” said Trustee Elizabeth “Betty” Manzella.
“The village has been working with Polinskie and Stretch,” said Mayor Spery. “According to Polinskie’s architect Edward S. Silsbe, R.A., I.C.C., ‘Please understand that I do share the Village of Mastic Beach’s building inspector [determination] that the home is not safe and habitable as a dwelling.’ The village must not only protect homeowners but also the first responders who may be called to enter the house.”
The Village of Mastic Beach is committed to improving the quality-of-life for all the residents.
The Village of Mastic Beach completes Emergency-Management Training.
Hurricane Joaquin spares Northeast. The Village of Mastic Beach is thankful, yet wary.
OCTOBER 9, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: The Village of Mastic Beach was extremely fortunate this week as Hurricane Joaquin passed by the small waterfront community. Mayor Maura Spery stated, “Looking at the devastating photos coming out of South Carolina, each of us in our waterfront community has been thankful and counted our blessings.”
“It was just three (3) years ago on October 29th when Sandy ripped through our community and left disaster in her wake. Homes were underwater, heat and electric were out for weeks,” said Mayor Spery. She added, “Nearly all departments in our Village have undergone FEMA National Incident Management System (NIMS) training for emergency management.”
NIMS is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that is applicable at all jurisdictional levels and across functional disciplines. It is intended to be applicable across a full spectrum of potential incidents, hazards, and impacts, regardless of size, location or complexity. It improves coordination and cooperation between public and private entities in a variety of incident-management activities and provides a common standard for overall incident management.
The Village Office of Emergency-Management Team consists of the Fire Marshals, Public Safety, Clerk’s Office, Department of Public Works, Finance and the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Spery added, “Carlo Grover, our Village Fire Marshal, has been invaluable putting together the training, preparing the staff, and creating an emergency-command center. Our command center will be able to communicate with the other levels of government and emergency servicesfor the residents.”
Not only is there emergency-management training for Village staff but New York State is also offering emergency training for residents through the Citizens’ Preparedness Corps (CPC). A two-hour training session is available for residents at the Mastics, Moriches, Shirley, Community Library on October 22, 2015, from 7:00–9:00 p.m. Each family participating at the library will receive a free Citizen Preparedness Corps Response Starter Kit. By taking the course in person or online at www.prepare.ny.gov, residents receive the resources to prepare for any disaster, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions. The Village recommends a representative from each household register for this event.
“We can’t mess with Mother Nature, but we can be prepared,” said Mayor Maura Spery.
Village Operations Assist in Arrests
AN OP-ED BY VILLAGE TRUSTEE BETTY MANZELLA firstname.lastname@example.org
An ongoing effort by the Village of Mastic Beach has been to address the critical quality-of-life issues that affect our residents. It is good to report that Operation Take-Back, the program that addresses illegal housing in our community, has been tackling these problems one house at a time. The Village's Public-Safety Department has had the additional benefit of assisting the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) in apprehending criminals.
Last week, the Village Public-Safety Department supported the SCPD 7th Precinct and impounded four (4) All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). So far there has been two (2) quads and two (2) dirtbikes taken off the streets. One individual was arrested for criminal possession of stolen property when he was caught driving an ATV that was reported stolen from Riverhead, on Lafayette Drive in Shirley. There have been numerous complaints regarding the illegal use of ATVs in the Village, and residents should know that our Public-Safety Officers are doing what they can to help combat the issue. During the month of September, the Village of Mastic Beach impounded nine (9) off-road vehicles and issued eleven (11) summonses relating to the illegal operation of these vehicles on public roadways.
The second incident was far more severe. SCPD Investigators, looking for a dangerous criminal, were able to ascertain pertinent information regarding his whereabouts from our Public-Safety Officers. Thanks to the quick work of the SCPD the criminal was arrested. A suspected gang member, he was wanted for attempted murder in North Carolina. He was a squatter in an abandoned home in the Village that was scheduled to be shut down through Operation Take-Back.
Public-Safety has been doing a tremendous job partnering with police from the 7th precinct. They have been addressing zombie-homes and illegal rentals in our community. We are sending the strong message, Mastic Beach Village is not open for business if your business is to break-the-law.
For those who wish to come here to live the good life by the shore, the welcome mat is out. For criminals, keep moving.
The Village of Mastic Beach is cleaning the mess.
Elizabeth "Betty" Manzella
Trustee, Village of Mastic Beach
“As your Mayor, I am extremely proud of our Village team. By working together, we are making this Village great.”
Our Public-Safety Department, headed by Pat McCall, has been working with the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) to shut down more than 20 illegal homes. These buildings either did not have valid rental permits or they housed illegal squatters. The SCPD has been making arrests and the Village has been securing the properties.
We have been working on these homes on a case-by-case basis. The citizens of Mastic Beach are the eyes and ears of this community and if you see something, say something by calling our Public -Safety Office at 631-281-2326 ext. 324.
The new Building Department hours are working out well. The designated hours enable residents to meet with the Building Inspectors. Residents can still mail completed permit applications without meeting with the inspectors.
In-person permit applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. This allows residents the opportunity to speak with a Building Inspector on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:15–11:15 a.m. and on Wednesdays from 4:30–7:00 p.m.
All other times our Building Inspectors are examining plans and files or out inspecting homes for building permits, rentals permits or are working with Public Safety on “Operation Take-Back.” Thank you for understanding and keeping to the schedule.
The Village of Mastic Beach now owns 230 Forest Drive West and has begun to vet a qualified not-for-profit to rehabilitate this house for a veteran. There are quite a few groups that work with residents to help with home ownership for all qualified applicants including veterans. Applications are on the website: www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/homeowner.
PAVING PROJECT IS COMPLETE
We are excited to have Mastic Road paved with minimal upset to school buses and residents. H2M Engineering and Suffolk Asphalt Corp. did an excellent job finishing the road safely and on time. We were euphoric the pavers could accommodate a tight schedule by working over the school holiday causing minimal disruption to students. Thank you for your patience throughout the week and enjoy your new road!
Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Peter Costelloe and his team are in the autumn stages of “Operation Overgrowth.” They have been clearing brush, making sure hydrants are clear of debris and are preparing the roads for falling leaves and snow.
Please email email@example.com and let us know where there are potholes that need filling before winter.
Please place leaves in paper bags. Branches must be six (6) inches in diameter or less, cut into four- (4- ) foot lengths and bundled. Bags of leaves and bundles of branches must be placed curbside on Sunday night for weekly pickup. The weeks there will not be yard-waste pickup are Columbus Week, October 11–17, Thanksgiving Week, November 22–28, and Christmas Week, December 20–26. Please check the schedule at www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/dpw.
We are preparing for the winter snow season by taking applications for snow-plow removal beginning the Third (3rd) Tuesday of October. If you are interested in plowing for the Village this winter, please be sure to fill out an application and mail it to the attention of the clerk postmarked by November 12, 2015.
By January, the state should announce the recipients of the Community Grants. We applied for these grants to cover the $70,000 cost of the Comprehensive Plan. Regardless of the award outcome, we shall begin planning in early 2016.
Operation Take Back
Instrumental in Gang Arrest
Police from the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) 7th Precinct has arrested a gang member who was wanted for a shooting in North Carolina.
26-year-old Shaki Darrell Jones was arrested at 9:30 p.m. Friday in Mastic Beach. Police had a tip that Jones had fled to Mastic Beach following an April 1st shooting in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Jones was wanted in North Carolina for six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in connection with the April shooting. Police said Jones and two other men fired into several cars and two people were injured in the North Carolina shooting.
Police say Jones is a member of the Nine Trey Gangstas, a Bloods street gang.
This past Friday night, two detectives from the 7th Precinct approached the Mastic Beach Village Public-Safety Department with a picture of Shaki Darell Jones. Public Safety Officers recognized the fugitive as a squatter from a house located at 88 Cranberry Drive that was boarded up under Operation Take-back.
To date, the Mastic Beach Village Public-Safety Department has closed down over twenty (20) squatter homes in the past two months which has resulted in six arrests including, Shaki Darell Jones.
Mastic Beach Village Mayor, Maura Spery said, "We are taking-back Mastic Beach. Squatters—especially criminals—are not welcome here."
Leading our Village toward a bright, new future.
The summer is drawing to a close, and I wish all the students who are returning to school this September a successful and inspiring year. You are our future, and I urge you to take full advantage of what your education offers.
It has been a busy summer in the Village of Mastic Beach. The positive feedback from our “First 100 Days” newsletter and our new website has been overwhelmingly positive. I appreciate that so many residents took the time to share their thoughts and reactions. If you haven’t seen these positive changes, please visit www.masticbeachvillageny.gov/newsletters.
I am pleased to share that the resolution of the lawsuit the Village brought years ago against the Mastic Beach Property Owners’ Association (MBPOA) is moving forward. My team has made sure all title reports are clear —showing no judgments, liens, mortgages, etc.—on any of the properties the Village will be receiving. The deeds will be transferred and filed with the Suffolk County Clerk in accord with the litigation settlement approved by both the Village Board and the MBPOA. Organizing the transfer of ownership on these properties continues, and we anticipate the properties will transfer to the Village later this year.
The Village is aggressively pursuing multiple grant funding opportunities. For example, we recently filed an application seeking $8 million in funding for sewers, land acquisition, comprehensive planning and development. Should we receive these grants, it will be a giant step forward in our Village’s revitalization and economic-development initiatives.
I have been working closely with the Suffolk County Planning Department and Board of Health to come up with alternative solutions to Mastic Beach’s nitrogen-loading problem. I am delighted to share that the Village has
been chosen to have one of our residents receive, by lottery, a free BusseNY Alternative-Septic System. This system was given free to one lucky homeowner and will be part of the County’s program to test alternative systems. The County could potentially approve alternative septic systems by next spring. Allowing for a variety of different choices for homeowners as opposed to being limited to one type of septic system.
HEALING OUR COMMUNITY
The majority of residents elected me to serve as your Mayor I believe, in part, to end the hostility and negativity that have been holding back our collective progress. My administration and I are working to put animosity aside and to bring forth a new day, one where everyone works together to make the Village of Mastic Beach the amazing waterfront community it is destined to be.
The previous articles underscore the positive and forward-thinking direction our Village is taking on your behalf. I hope you share my enthusiasm and, as always, I invite your thoughts, feedback and suggestions.
Please feel free to contact me
Maura P. Spery
Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach
“Operation Take Back” cracks down on illegal housing in the Village of Mastic Beach.
Working with Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning, Mayor Maura P. Spery gives her administration the task of eliminating illegal squatting in the Village of Mastic Beach.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: Squatting in the Village of Mastic Beach has just become a whole lot harder. Using laws already on the books, Mayor Spery has empowered Public-Safety Supervisor, Pat McCall to eradicate illegal housing in the Village of Mastic Beach. Using the code name “Operation Take Back,” the Village has shut down thirteen (13) homes that were illegally occupied.
“This is a great waterfront Village; a beautiful, warm and caring community that devious people have taken advantage,” said, Public-Safety Supervisor Pat McCall. “With the support of the Village Mayor, Board and Court, removing these transients through the eviction process has happened rather quickly and smoothly.”
The perfect combination of situations has enticed some to occupy the area illegally. Foreclosures from predatory lending practices, the rapid increase in rents and Hurricane Sandy have given squatters the opportunity to move into empty waterfront homes across Long Island.
“Sandy left hundreds of homes uninhabited and vulnerable across the Island. Many owners have no idea there are people living in their homes until they return and see the mess. The people feel violated and rightfully so. We cannot have this illegal behavior continue in our community. Quality-of-life in this Village is a top concern of my administration, and the Village of Mastic Beach has been quite pro-active by employing ‘Operation Take Back’,” states Mayor Spery.
“Operation Take Back” is a coordinated program spearheaded by the Village’s Department of Public Safety. Working closely with the Suffolk County Police Department, the Village program has closed down thirteen (13) illegal properties in two (2) months. The goal of “Operation Take Back” is to increase safety in the community by maintaining safe and legal housing throughout the Village of Mastic Beach.
Mr. McCall said, “The support of neighbors is crucial. Sometimes the offenders take minimal care of properties just to stay under code enforcement’s radar but the neighbors know what is going on. We want law-abiding residents to understand they are not alone in this—the Village cares about getting these squatters and illegal renters out.” He added, “If a strange family shows up in the middle of the night, call us. Let us know what is going on, we will contact the owner and end the nightmare before it begins.”
Under New York State law, squatters are classified as tenants and receive temporary rights after living in a property for thirty (30) days. For an owner to reclaim property from a squatter once the thirty days have been established, the owner must be able to prove his/her rights to the property. Then, legal eviction proceedings can proceed, which is a long and drawn-out process.
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa said, “It’s best to get to the squatters out before they have been living at the property for thirty (30) days. Then the course of action is to work quickly with the property owner. In some cases the owner is on an extended trip, in the military, or lives elsewhere because of personal or medical reasons—the owner may not even know that squatters occupy their property!”
“Suffolk County continues to feel the negative impacts from the 2008 housing crisis, which left in its wake a tremendous amount of foreclosures,” stated Legislator Kate Browning. “In addition, Hurricane Sandy also caused many homes to become vacant throughout our South Shore communities. Whether privately owned or bank-owned, I have been very successful in ridding squatters from these dwellings through the standard eviction process. However, working in conjunction with property owners, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Village of Mastic Beach, this costly and lengthy process can be avoided by enforcing the 30 day rule, or submitting No Trespassing Affidavits to our police department before squatters settle into a home. Through these partnerships, we have effectively prevented dozens of homes from becoming future problems, and will continue to do so until the housing crisis is eliminated.” stated, Legislator Browning.
“If you intend to live illegally in an abandoned home, don’t do it within the Village limits. It is a privilege to live in this village—and you have to do it legally,” said Mayor Spery.
Mastic Beach is improving the Village’s infrastructure.
The Village of Mastic Beach maintains 88 miles of active roadway through the Village’s Department of Public Works (DPW)—and the team is dreaming BIG!
AUGUST 31, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: The Village of Mastic Beach has the daunting task of caring for more than 88 miles of roads throughout the Village. The DPW employees have been tackling the logistics of this work one step at a time.
The first thing Mayor Spery did to get the DPW in order was to appoint Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa as the DPW Board Liaison. He undertook a full inventory of the needs of the staff and came to the conclusion that a DPW Supervisor was an absolute necessity. The Board hired Mr. Peter Costelloe, who brings thirty (30) years of highway experience from the Town of Brookhaven.
“Peter knows these roads inside-out because he built them!” Said Mayor Maura Spery, “Pete has been a real asset to the Village. He has lowered our costs and has motivated the crew to work smarter to improve the efficiency of the Department of Public Works.”
“Our DPW is a well-honed drill team under the supervision of Peter Costelloe,” said Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa. “The team is doing an excellent job improving the quality-of-life for our residents by maintaining the Village’s infrastructure on a day-to-day basis. They are a great group, and I am proud to be their liaison.”
The DPW Department not only takes care of 88 miles of roadway but also maintains buildings, sweeps the streets, mows overgrowth, clears brush, fills potholes, plows and cares for the plantings in public spaces.
DPW Supervisor Peter Costelloe said, “My team does an outstanding job. They work hard and want this Village to look its best.”
This fall there are major infrastructure projects going on in the Village. DPW will be beautifying Village Hall by adding long-lasting cement board to the exterior. There will be a clock installed and appropriate signage added. The Village leadership is beginning to transform Neighborhood Road from a bunch of individual buildings into a cohesive downtown village with a coastal theme.
Additionally, here will be a new paving project in the community. The principal thoroughfare of Mastic Road will be paved from Market Street to Neighborhood Road in the next few weeks.
Mayor Spery added, “These projects will help beautify the community and provide a safe area for residents to walk and patronize local businesses.”
As Mr. Costelloe ponders his plans for the future of the Village’s infrastructure, he stated, “My personal dreams would be to start a significant community-improvement project, perhaps something that would increase pedestrian safety and help beautify our neighborhoods. Another idea is to add sidewalks and bike lanes lining the main roadways (Neighborhood Road, Commack Drive, Mastic Road, Cranberry Drive, Whittier Drive, Mastic Beach Road, Riverside Drive and Wavecrest Drive). I’d like to see crosswalks with signs at all the main intersections. Working with the Town of Brookhaven we can consider installing light-pollution reducing, ‘night-skies’ streetlights throughout the Village. I’d like to see the trees damaged by Sandy replaced on Neighborhood and Mastic Roads. Also, I’d like to plant more perennials under the trees, so they bloom from spring until fall.”
With so many exciting infrastructure projects coming up in the Village of Mastic Beach, it is no wonder that Peter Costelloe and the entire DPW team are dreaming big.
Fun Family in the Village of Mastic Beach.
Village of Mastic Beach is the location of three wonderful family events. The Blue Claw Crab Festival August 30th, Fall Harvest Festival September 19th and Not So Scary Halloween October 30th.
AUGUST 25, 2015, VILLAGE OF MASTIC BEACH, N.Y.: School may be starting, but the outdoor fun in the Village of Mastic Beach isn’t stopping anytime soon. Some of the Village’s best annual alfresco festivals take place the last week of August until Halloween. These FREE family favorites like the Blue Claw Crab Festival, the Fall Harvest Festival, and the Not So Scary Halloween show that the Village of Mastic Beach isn’t just about summer fun.
The Blue Claw Crab Festival is this Sunday, August 30th at Bob DeBona Memorial Marina One. Hosted by the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association (MBPOA). The “Crabfest,” situated on Narrow Bay, is one of the Village’s biggest and longest running festivals. Considered the last hurrah of summer before the kids return to school, the Crabfest is a great place to eat seafood while sitting by the bay.
Village of Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery stated, “This festival is near and dear to my heart because I helped to create the event. It is a fabulous day on the bay that you just can’t miss.”
Crabs, crab cakes, shrimp, and clams are some of the delicious offerings. Vendors are on hand selling all sorts of handmade items and yummy delights. Bands will be playing all day. Entertainment includes dancing, raffles, and games for all the kids, big and small. Parking is available at the MBPOA Clubhouse located at Neighborhood and Orchid Drive and bus is provided by the Montauk Bus Company to shuttle to the event. With the help of local sponsors like Bay Gas, Mastic Seafood and GrandAm Trailers the Blue Claw Crab Fest is always a fun-filled day in Mastic Beach.
The Fall Harvest Festival hosted by the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association (PCCA) is on September 19th located on Neighborhood Road. This block-party closes down the main street and celebrates all things fall. The festival is the perfect place to grab a candied apple and chrysanthemums. Vendors will be selling everything you can imagine. With a chill in the air and the leaves just beginning to change colors, the Village ofMastic Beach is the perfect backdrop for an early autumn stroll.
Village Trustee, Elizabeth Manzella said, “I love this festival. The apples, the vegetables, and flowers are just magnificent. It is always so festive and great for the kids. I bring my grandchildren every year. The Harvest Fest welcomes and celebrates fall in the Village—my favorite season in Mastic Beach.”
The last Friday in October the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association opens its doors to neighborhood children under the age of 12 for the Not So Scary Halloween Party. The goal is to keep the kids safe for Halloween while having tons of fun. Food, candy, pumpkins, crafts, face-painting, and games provided by local politicians and business people make this event happen for the little ones.
Deputy Mayor Bruce Summa said, “This is one of my favorite events. I always volunteer at this event because it’s great for the kids. Sometimes I face-paint or serve popcorn whatever they want me to do. I bring my four-year-old niece every year; she absolutely loves it.”
“The Village of Mastic Beach always has such wonderful free events,” said, Mayor Maura Spery. “It is such fun to check out the vendors and eat such an assortment of terrific food! The civics put on these events and do such a great job. These events show what this Village is all about—bring the community together.”
(Pictured left to right: Councilman Dan Panico, Peter Scully, Legislator Kate Browning, Boris Rukovets, Mayor Maura Spery, County Executive Steve Bellone, Walter Dawydiak and Sarah Lansdale.)
Suffolk County & Mastic Beach Village Announce Septic Lottery Winner
Homeowner Receives Free Advanced Wastewater Treatment System
Mastic Beach, NY – Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) and Mastic Beach Village Mayor Maura Spery joined County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County water quality officials to draw the winner of the Mastic Beach septic lottery. The winning homeowner was Victor Viola of Wavecrest Drive, Mastic Beach. Suffolk County conducted the lottery to select a homeowner to receive the free system, including free installation, monitoring and maintenance for five years.
The program is part of Suffolk County’s plan to improve the County’s water quality and eradicate nitrogen pollution by means of sewering targeted areas and implementing advanced on-site wastewater treatment systems. In addition to covering maintenance for five years, the septic system suppliers are also including a five-year warranty for both parts and labor. Mastic Beach Village was chosen for an exclusive lottery since it is one of several critical areas in need of advanced wastewater technology.
“This is a great opportunity for Suffolk County to expand its wastewater treatment options while at the same time homeowners can benefit from an upgraded system at no cost to them,” stated Legislator Browning. “Congratulations to Mr. Viola on being the lucky winner. I am hopeful that this pilot will lead to more homeowners being able to enhance their wastewater treatment and reduce nitrogen in our groundwater.”
After the five year maintenance agreement expires, the selected homeowners will have to pay for an annual maintenance contract, the average annual cost of which may vary by supplier, but is estimated to be around $200-$400, based on data from other jurisdictions with developed market for advanced treatment systems. Also, there will be the cost of electricity to run the systems, in the area of $5 to $20 per month.
"It is a new day for Mastic Beach and Suffolk County, which marks the rebirth for Mastic Beach by being at the forefront of environmental responsibility in protecting our drinking water,” stated Mayor Maura Spery. “This is the start of remediating our bays, rivers and creeks. We are thrilled to be partnering with County Executive Bellone, Legislator Browning, BusseNY and Geomatrix to step into the future of septic alternatives here in Suffolk County."