August Village Board Meeting

Thursday, August 06, 2009

August Village Board Meeting

Updated 08/07/2009 – 05:25 pm

The big story of tonight's Westhampton Beach Village Board meeting was that the Village At­torney and the Building Inspector both strong­ly advised the Village Board to do some­thing, and the Trustees to a one, declined.

For his part, Mayor Conrad Teller listened to the Village's two highest paid retainers, and cast the lone dissenting vote.

At issue was the adoption of a Local Law amending Chapter 91 of the Village Code in respect to Flood Damage Prevention, which is required to be in place by a drop dead date of September 25th if Westhampton Beach is to continue to be eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.

(Disclosure: I initially went the wrong way on this because it sounded like Coastal Geologist Aram Terchunian knew what he was talking about, and I foresaw a spate of applications before the Zoning Board of Appeals by Dune Road residents requesting minor height variances trig­gered by the proposed legislation.

There were "tells" indicating that I was backing the wrong horse, and I failed to properly read them. That's on me!)

So the adoption of the amended law was tabled to the distress of Village Attorney Her­mon Bishop and Building Administrator Paul Houlihan, and the ill-disguised frustration after the meeting of Mayor Teller.

Hopefully, not all is lost, as the Trustees now have almost a fortnight to discover the error of their ways and remedy same by adopting the law later this month.

(And Trustee Joan Levan will make a statement which will make tonight's delaying action by the Board sound prudent and responsible.

Yes, Mr. Terchunian speaks well and there is ample reason to distrust bodies such as FEMA and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, but that's why the municipality has its own "professionals!")

In another important, and interminable, matter, Joan Gilroy, Director of Government Affairs for Cablevision, made a perfunctory appearance in an effort to move the Village along on renewing its now-expired franchise agreement.

The final sticking point is the airing on Cable­vision's Government Access Channel 22 of the monthly Village Board meetings, which hasn't been happening for some months now.

New York State Public Service Commission re­quires cable systems to make available, with­out charge, a channel to carry governmental and educational programming.

All was as it should be until Cablevision turned over control of local Channel 22 to Southamp­ton Town's SEA-TV, and the Town, desperate for any sort of revenue, decided to start charg­ing for cablecasting the Village meetings.

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski explained the Town's rationale to reporter Jessica DiNapoli last month:

"This is not fair for people in other unincorporated areas. They're paying the cost of programming in Westhampton Beach."

Except that "they" are not, as Ms. Graboski should damned well know!

Westhampton Beach contracts with Black Sheep Television to tape, edit and produce a finished, ready-to-broadcast product.

The Town/SEA-TV has refused without pay­ment of a fee. The Village received a $9500 invoice from the Town, and if they expected the Village to pay it, they don't know Conrad Teller!

And he's right... it was without cost to the Village before, and the NYS PSC mandates that the cable system carry local Government pro­gramming. The matter properly is in the lap of Cablevision who must either open up a regular slot on another one of its channels, or tell SEA-TV and the Town to stop trying to extort money out of Westhampton Beach or they will be forced to take back control of Channel 22.

(Which, of course, Cablevision really does not want to do.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Oh, and the Village has retained Mr. Bishop as Counsel in a criminal prosecution of un-remedied long-standing violations at the Price family compound at 24 Library Avenue.

In the Public Discussion portion of the meet­ing, Dune Road's John Roland made a strong statement in support of Police Chief "Front Page" Ray Dean, and suggested that the Trustees act more responsibly and less like "village idiots."

Wish OtBB had said that!


1. Elyse Richman said...

Is it true that the Village meetings will not be televised on Channel 22? Southampton Village meetings seem to run all the time. I will miss the cable cast. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

That subject has now been more fully addressed above... please excuse the delay.

But, dear Elyse, Village meetings haven't been televised for some months now. Where've you been?

Southampton Village residents pay for their Village meetings to be cablecast in the form of a pass-along franchise fee. This Village Board seems united in its disinclination to add another tax to Westhampton Beach residents.

2. Matlynn Carville said...

Yeah; we got an 8 million dollar library and a $200,000+ school superintendent salary to pay! Not to mention Mrs. Levan's health insurance for life.

3. Eileen Dover said...

How about addressing the parking lot issues at the now defunct Corner Restaurant. That whole area is a disgrace!

Yes, there's that, but I'm not certain precisely what the Village is to do there.

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