Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy was the keynote speaker at a recent Floral Park Chamber of Commerce meeting at Stella Ristorante, delivering the State of the Village Address. He touched on many topics, including the budget, emergency management operations as the region enters hurricane season, and ongoing construction work along Jericho Turnpike.
“The state of the village continues to be very good,” he said. “We’re now closing on our audit of our last year’s [2012-13] budget. … Frankly we’re happy [to announce we have] a small surplus but certainly within that 2 percent world,” despite the expenses incurred by Superstorm Sandy.
Tweedy credits the efforts of the village administration and department of public works with helping the village hold the 2 percent tax cap.
“Over the past few years we have consolidated positions … I am very happy to report that through reorganization we have been able to maintain the level of productivity actually with [fewer] people.”
He noted that there have been no rehires and there were some recent layoffs, as well. The public works and building departments have merged into one entity, sharing administrative resources. Tweedy added that the assessment department “has been moved in conjunction with our public works, where it should be. It also makes it easier for our residents to access that, especially our seniors and those with physical challenges because it’s right on grade and they can go right in.
Tweedy stressed Floral Park’s “growing commitment” to seek out natural mergers in an effort to what he feels streamlines efficiency.
As the village prepares for this year’s hurricane season, officials continue to work with FEMA to recoup Sandy-related expenses. The village has received some reimbursements, “mostly related to police department and administration for overtime numbers,” Tweedy said, but the lion’s share is still outstanding.
Village Administrator Gerry Bambrick and DPW Superintendent Steve Siwinski continue to go over final numbers for reimbursement.
Tweedy feels Floral Park is poised to take swift action to ensure the safety of residents in the face of any future storms. While the hope is to not experience another horrific storm, the village’s emergency management staff, headed up by Joe Terranova and former mayor Kevin Greene, continues to meet regularly.
“We are of the belief that if you have a plan, you can always modify a plan,” Tweedy said. “Last year we actually did have a plan because Irene had happened, so we had a plan to move forward when it came to Sandy.”
Last year, the village set up a command center at the pool recreation building for residents to seek shelter and to access power to charge their mobile devices. The building also housed 40 FEMA reps through Thanksgiving.
Indeed, the Floral Park Pool and Recreation Complex is a village gem. The pool celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2013 and the pool recreation building celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Tweedy noted the pool is not only an asset in terms of enhancing community life but also plays a large part in the values of homes and businesses in the village.
“We have Cameron Engineering doing a feasibility study on the pool itself,” Tweedy said. “We have to do some work on the property to ensure the facility is in compliance with new building codes within the county and the state.”
Meanwhile, work construction continues along Jericho Turnpike, which has undergone major repaving.
“We’re very happy with the work that’s been done by Tully [Construction],” which is working with the State of New York, Tweedy said, adding that the DOT “has been very responsive” to the village and meets with Siwinski and Bambrick monthly.
The plantings, trees, brick and concrete that will be installed along the turnpike median are due in large part to the efforts of Senator Jack Martins, according to Tweedy. Trees are slated to be planted in November or December.
“With the work that is [continuing] on Jericho Turnpike, our hope is that this will be the stimulus to have new businesses move down on Jericho Turnpike,” the mayor said. The village’s two other major business districts, Tulip and Covert Avenues “couldn’t look better.” Tweedy gave a shout out to Tom DeLuca and Kathleen Duggan, who installed flower pots along those two strips a few years ago and said the village will review the budget to see if the same can be done along Jericho Turnpike.
He added that the village has done some electrical work on Tulip Avenue and the county will do additional restoration, which will help Belmont Street Fair merchants more easily and efficiently hook up to power sources.
Tweedy wrapped up his address by heralding the Floral Park Police Department. “What separates Floral Park from any other community around here, what makes Floral Park a safe and a wonderful place to live, a lot of that falls upon the Floral Park Police Department. We’re on the edge of the largest metropolis in the world, and we enjoy ‘Mayberry,’” he said.