A regular meeting of the board of trustees was held on Jan. 4, at 8:30 p.m.
The meeting opened with a Pledge to the Flag. Present were Mayor Kevin J. Greene, Trustees Thomas J. Tweedy, James E. Rhatigan, Mary-Grace Tomecki, Dominick A. Longobardi, Village Administrator Virginia Appel, Village Clerk Susan E. Walsh, Superintendent of Building Department and Superintendent of Public Works Stephen L. Siwinski, Police Commission Stephen G. McAllister and Village Attorney John E. Ryan.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Mayor Greene asked for a moment of silence in memory of Aiden Binkley who lost his young life after battling cancer for many years and that our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Mayor Greene presented the “Cop of the Month” Award to John Groshans who has been a police officer with the Floral Park Police Department for 21 years. He transferred from the New York City Police Department after graduating from the police academy and worked for three years in the 73rd precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn. John was born and raised in Floral Park and continues to reside here with his family. John has developed a rapport with the members of the community and school educators as he has become a certified school resource officer. He has been teaching Internet safety in the local schools and community groups for over three years covering such topics as cyber-bullying, cyber-predators and the vulnerability social media networks create. John has established himself as a resource and has introduced the I-Safe program into the schools. He tailored the program to meet the needs of his listeners and refreshes and updates the program as needed. He is readily available to speak to students to teach them of the dangers which lurk within the Internet. His service within the schools has proven John to be a trustworthy school liaison and a respected member of the Floral Park Police Department. His involvement in community activities and athletic organizations keep him visible within the town and in touch with the youths of the community.
Mayor Greene welcomed Susan Walsh to her first board meeting as village clerk and congratulated her on her promotion.
Department of Public Works
Trustee Tweedy wished everyone a happy and healthy new year.
Trustee Tweedy reported that the effects of the blizzard that occurred on Sunday, Dec. 26 are still being felt today. The Department of Public Works mobilized on Sunday morning. They prepared the equipment, snowplows were mounted, trucks were filled with salt and the men were called in for a long shift. The severity of the storm was evident from the start. The equipment experienced breakdowns due to the ferocity of the storm but the mechanics worked to get the fleet up and running again. An open lane for emergency vehicles was maintained throughout the entire storm.
Every storm has its own unique characteristics; this storm will be remembered for the severe wind and weather conditions that quickly and densely compacted the snow. Early preparations paid significant dividends as our initial salting and continual plowing during the beginning stages of the blizzard kept Floral Park’s streets open for emergency vehicles and allowed residents the ability to get to work the following day. The efforts of our crews continued unabated on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday plowing and trucking the huge snow piles.
Trustee Tweedy said we will continue to review our response to the storm and improve on what we can but that he is very proud to be a resident of Floral Park and serve as a representative in a village where we have organized and committed efforts extended by our Public Works crews and Police Department. Many cards and telephone calls complimenting our employees on the response and clean-up from the storm have been received at Village Hall and Trustee Tweedy can only echo those complimentary words.
As our neighbors all around us continue to dig out from the storm, our streets and parking lots have been cleared allowing residents to enjoy their village and commercial enterprises the opportunity to thrive.
Trustee Rhatigan echoed the remarks of Deputy Mayor Tweedy and thanked the supervisors and crews of our Public Works Department who performed in an exemplary manner throughout the storm response and holiday season in general.
Trustee Rhatigan thanked the members of the fire department who were called out in response to a house fire early on Christmas Day. The alarm went out just before 2 a.m. and although there was an immediate response, the fire had already gotten a firm hold of the structure. Originating in the basement and fed by a compromised gas line, the fire quickly progressed to the upper floors. Responders worked through the night to ensure that the flames did not spread to the adjacent residences. It was only after more than three hours of fighting the recurring pockets of flame that the fire was declared under control and mop up operations began. Many of the firefighters did not clear the scene until well after dawn, leaving for their homes, some to meet their young children just rising to see what Santa left them. While we note with particular interest a fire on Christmas morning, we should also remember that firefighters have taken a pledge and will respond every day and night of the year. Trustee Rhatigan extended a special thanks to all involved.
In a like manner, the police department performed expertly over the last few weeks. Two patrolmen and one supervisor responding to the Christmas fire entered into the burning structure without hesitation to ensure that the residents had safely evacuated. Driven back by smoke, the officers remained on the scene until relieved and only then allowed themselves to be transported to the hospital for treatment. These men serve in the finest traditions of their department.
Just a few days following the fire we saw our first major snowstorm, and if anyone might envy the job of our police officers, Trustee Rhatigan asked if they would wish to trade places with any of our department on duty throughout the Sunday storm. While we were most probably safe and warm in our homes, our officers were protecting us all and working to free a number of vehicles from the drifting and biting snow. We are more than well served by these fine individuals.
Trustee Rhatigan reminded all residents to make the effort and to take the time to ensure that the fire hydrant near your home is clear and uncovered of snow as soon as possible after any winter storm. Precious minutes can be lost by responding firefighters searching for and digging out a hydrant. Please help in giving our responders a fighting chance by cleaning the fire hydrants.
Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki
Trustee Tomecki extended a special thank you to emergency service workers, members of both the police and fire departments for their exemplary efforts during the snowstorm this past week. In this vein, Trustee Tomecki would also like to acknowledge the work of our hardworking Department of Public Work crews. Under the auspices of Superintendent of Public Works, Steve Siwinski and General Supervisor, Richie Albertson, the roadways were cleared in record time. Their planning and coordination efforts are clearly a model for neighboring communities.
Recently, Deputy Mayor Tom Tweedy and Trustee Tomecki had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Gerry Petrella, New York Senator Charles Shumer’s dynamic Long Island regional representative. Senator Schumer and his staff, especially Gerry Petrella, have always been so willing to work with the Village of Floral Park. In some instances, it is simply to help us obtain an answer to a question on behalf of a resident. In many cases, it is to assist us in our ongoing efforts to navigate a grant request or a complicated quality of life issue through the sometimes-winding waters of state or federal government. Trustee Tomecki said that Senator Schumer is always a phone call away because of his dedicated staff members. Gerry Petrella’s enthusiasm and appreciation for Long Island communities exemplifies the role that public service plays in serving the greater good. Trustee Tomecki thanked Gerry for taking the time to meet with her and Deputy Mayor Tweedy and thanked Senator Schumer for his continued concern for Long Island and most specifically, the Village of Floral Park.
Trustee Dominick Longobardi
Trustee Longobardi thanked all the crews from the Department of Public Works and Superintendent of Public Works Steve Siwinski and General Supervisor Richie Albertson for the phenomenal work they did clearing the snow. Trustee Longobardi thanked the residents who promptly shoveled their sidewalks and helped with their neighbors’ sidewalks and for removing their cars from the streets so the plows could get through.
Trustee Longobardi extended his condolences to the Binkley family on the tragic loss of their son, Aiden, and to the Hallock family for the loss of their home in the fire.
Trustee Longobardi wished everyone a healthy and happy new year.
Mayor Greene echoed the sentiments of the trustees and said he, too, was very proud of all the hard work performed by the crews from the Department of Public Works in clearing the streets of snow and to the police department for all their efforts during the storm. Mayor Greene reminded residents that when clearing snow, push it toward the lawn and not the street.
Repeating what Trustee Rhatigan said, it is very important to clear fire hydrants. The fire that occurred on Christmas morning took only 10 to 15 minutes to engulf the entire house and our firefighters cannot waste precious minutes searching for fire hydrants. Mayor Greene thanked the volunteer Fire Department for the fantastic job they did, giving up Christmas Eve and Christmas morning battling the house fire and for remaining on call during the blizzard the following day.
Many emails have been received at Village Hall from residents who want to help the Hallock family who lost their home and all its contents in the fire. To make a financial donation to the family, call Village Hall for this information.
On motion by Trustee Longobardi, seconded by Trustee Tomecki, and carried unanimously, Mayor Greene recessed the meeting at 9:15 p.m.