The recently-passed school budget, ideas for the redevelopment of the Motor Ave. Liberty Site and updates on activities in the Village of Farmingdale were the center of the discussion at the Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale (CCAF) meeting on Thursday.
The School Budget
“We’re very grateful to Farmingdale residents for passing the budget," said Tina Diamond, a CCAF board member as well as a 12-year school board member. “We had extremely good support receiving 43 percent positive votes. The passage reflects the importance of education in our community.”
“We’re battling escalating costs and we need significant changes,” she said, acknowledging that only 3,000 residents voted as opposed to 5,000 to 6,000 who usually vote.
“There were more ‘no’ votes than ever before,” said one attendee. One senior resident questioned the $7 million used to plug the budget gap out of the school’s reserve fund.
Chuck Gosline, CCAF president, said the organization will write a letter with its concerns. “We’d like a full list of the state mandates and what they cost,” he said. “We need mandate relief. We would also like to change the funding formula to make it more equitable for each student in the state and areas like Long Island,” he said.
The Liberty Site
Gosline reminded the audience of the between the EPA and Town of Oyster Bay at the site for the past 20 plus years.
“Every time I ask for an update, I get a song-and-a-dance,” said Gosline. “Our organization provided a list of ideas for the multi-acre site. Spending $36 million to clean it up has been a high cost.” A trio of Farmingdale High School students presented their redevelopment ideas for the Liberty site. These included a small study center, an amphitheater, a community pool, a sports center for non-competitive pick-up games, a memorial center or a garden area, among others.
“We’re taking these ideas and narrowing the list down,” said one student. “In the end, we’d like to put together a 3D model of our plans to put in front of the town.”
Trustee Cheryl Parisi and Deputy Mayor/Village Trustee Patricia A. Christiansen described a land swap with the owner of the near finalized Hilton Hotel being built next to the train station.
A streetscape grant is also enabling 23 stores in the village to add new awnings and lights to their establishments.
One resident raised the topic the Village potentially eliminating the 24/7 dispatcher in the Village of Farmingdale fire house. “It is the gold standard,” Parisi said. “We have an overlap between the 9-1-1 calls and those going directly to the fire house.”
The resident asked about the cost of keeping a dedicated employee in that position, saying he had heard it cost $300,000 a year. A discussion ensued over the merits, both pro and con, of having someone always manning the firehouse.
Gosline thanked State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. and emphasized the need for more volunteers to keep the organization running. “We only have 3 ½ board members and we’re looking for help,” he said.