Southold candidate talks about the interaction between environment, community and economy

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(LR) Southold Town Board candidates Ann Smith and Gwynne Schroeder, Supervisor candidates Al Krupski and Donald Grimm, and Town Board candidates Stephen Keeley and Jill Dougherty.

Like many parts of the East End, Southold Town has experienced a development boom in the years since the pandemic. The town is about to begin updating its zoning code under a comprehensive plan adopted in 2020, but also adopted a housing plan to guide the use of community housing funds amid public backlash against affordable housing. I just did it. housing complex.

A popular tourist attraction, Southold’s environment and small family farms play a key role in Southold’s economy, and in October the event was held at CAST in Southold and Pokuatuck Hall in Orient. Many of the questions at the two North Fork Civics panel discussions focused on how to best protect nature. The town’s rural environment and fragile coastline.

This year’s candidates for town supervisor are Democratic Suffolk County Councilman Al Krupski, who also operates his family’s Krupski Farm in Peconic, and Republican Donald Grimm, who owns a towing and recycling business and is a volunteer firefighter. Mr.

There are two seats to run for on City Council. Incumbent City Council member Jill Doherty, who served for decades on the City Council, served on the board for 11 years, and most recently as deputy supervisor, joins attorney Stephen Keeley, who represents Shelter Island. He is running on the Republican ticket. Town lawyer.

Mr. Krupski’s longtime aide Gwynne Schroeder, an environmental activist who previously headed the North Fork Environmental Council, and former Mattituck-Cutchogue School District Superintendent Anne Smith are running as Democratic candidates. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Sarah Nappa is not seeking re-election.

Krupski, a longtime land conservation advocate, told the Orient Forum that he believes a “funded and mechanically functioning” land conservation program is the key to avoiding complete expansion. Suffolk County Health Department officials said. They told him what they expected, including that Levittown would be rolled out all the way to Montauk. There was a complete lack of consideration for traffic, public safety, school impacts, and environmental burden. I did.”

Mr Grimm said he would “engage with every settlement individually and consider their needs” when mitigating development. “Some areas may develop a little more than others.”

In addition to hiring a consultant to help complete the zoning update, current Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell has budgeted $100,000 to begin work on a coastal restoration plan next year.

Krupski praised the funding, saying that agencies across the town, including the Town Board of Trustees, where he served for 20 years prior to his eight years on the Southold Town Commission, and the town’s regulatory partners, “have committed to these long-term We need to work on it,” he said. -Term issues. ”

He added that the Army Corps of Engineers’ project to sandbag downtown Montauk’s beaches was highly controversial within the community and resulted in “substantial loss of beach.”

“It’s difficult to operate without public input. This is when governments are most effective,” he added.
“I don’t think $100,000 is enough in today’s market,” said Grimm, who as a volunteer with the Cutchogue Fire Department has rescued people from floodwaters in an area he says has never experienced flooding. . When you want to work on the coastline. ”

Town Board candidates had a lot to say about affordable housing. Dougherty served as a liaison between the town council and the town’s Housing Advisory Committee, which drafts the local housing plan, and Smith served as a volunteer member of that committee.

Doherty said all of the priorities outlined in the plan, from converting existing homes into apartments to building attached apartments to providing loans for first-time homebuyers, will help stem the housing crisis. He said it needed to be done.

Drawing on her experience in education and school administration, Ms. Smith focused many of her comments on how to bring together large groups to carry out complex goals.

She said she believes the next step in the housing plan is to “go into each village and have focus group conversations.” We need to set standards within each settlement. ”

Keeley said he supports Dougherty’s priorities, but clarified that he is “absolutely opposed to high-density apartment buildings.” It is a celebration of the character of our community. ”

During his campaign, Keeley spoke about Democratic New York Gov. Cathy’s “High Density Hochul” proposal, which was rejected by the state Legislature earlier this year by requiring towns to allow high-density housing to be built around train stations on Long Island. The plan has been strongly criticized. If local zoning does not allow it. Local state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle opposed the governor’s plan, saying it violates the state’s home rule law and doesn’t make sense in an area with very little train service.

Keely added that he wants to use the Community Housing Fund to provide financing to nonprofit developers to build manor houses that look like single-family homes but have three rental units inside. He also said he would crack down on short-term rentals and ensure attached housing units are only rented to people on the town’s multifamily registry.

Schroeder, who lives in Cutchogue and was part of the town’s Cutchogue community stakeholder group, said each community has different needs within their community center, and Cutchogue’s community center is “very stretched.”

She said she would like to know more about why people aren’t taking advantage of the accessory dwelling unit incentive program, and that the town is buying land with Community Housing Fund money and giving developers specific proposals for housing on the land. He also said that he would like to ask for it. .

“That way we can let them know what we want and keep that affordability in perpetuity,” she said. “But we can’t get out of this situation. I grew up in Brooklyn, and I don’t want to see Southold look like Brooklyn.”

What can be done about “forever chemicals” like carcinogenic perfluorinated compounds, once used as flame retardants and non-stick surfaces, found in East End private wells. “It’s really important to look at what can be done,” Smith said. Where can we regulate and educate?” He added that homeowners with private wells should be informed about the importance of getting their water tested.

“We’re at a crossroads” in the balance between clean drinking water and the increased development that often occurs when public water is drawn into communities, Schroeder said.

“The Suffolk County Water District wants to bring a $40 million pipe into Southold along Peconic Bay Boulevard,” she said. “But they say it will be used primarily for lawn irrigation.”

Dougherty said she wholeheartedly supports the town’s new water commission and asked the community to help gather information on water quality and quantity issues.

Keeley said if he were town board member, he would introduce a bill that would place limits on irrigation.

When asked how to create good jobs, Ms Smith said that although town halls are not creating jobs, the cost of housing has made it very difficult for young people to live here. He said he intended to work. Encourage programs like the new Eastern Suffolk BOCES carpentry program, which prepares Mattituck High School students for careers.

Schroeder, who had a long career as a registered nurse before working in government and advocacy, agreed.

“There are good jobs here,” she said, adding that there are jobs at Eastern Long Island Hospital, the Peconic Landing retirement community, a nursing and rehabilitation facility in San Simeon-by-the-Sound, as well as local schools and several other hospitals. He cited a job at a high-tech manufacturing company. “The problem is, the people who do those jobs don’t live here. I was a nurse. I made enough money, but today’s nurses can’t afford to live here. there is not.”

Dougherty, who works on the Town Board to advocate for the needs of the agriculture and aquaculture industries and small businesses, said she agrees that housing is key.

“Eighty percent of our employees live outside of Southold,” she said.

“The work is related to our environment, and that’s where I’m going to focus my efforts,” said Kealey, who vowed to support farmers if elected to the board.

“Our environment is our economy,” Krupski, who was selling pumpkins on the only sunny Saturday of the fall at his farm on a highway in Peconic, said in his closing statement while answering questions in Pokutuck Hall. He reminded the audience that: If he is elected, he hopes the community’s stakeholder group will reconvene.

“We need a lot of community involvement,” he said.

In one of Southold’s most contentious races this year, incumbent town judge Dan Ross, a Democrat, faces Republican Brian Hughes, a former town judge who lost his seat to Ross by 27 votes four years ago. are fighting.

Throughout his campaign, Hughes has voiced concerns that Democrats’ state bail reforms would free criminals from prison, but he said he was the only candidate in the race who was treated unfairly. He said this during the election campaign. “Qualified Judicial Candidates” by the Suffolk County Bar Association. His comments were later published in Southold Town’s official newspaper without verification.

During the CAST debate, Hughes also cited portions of the 2022 Southold Judicial Review and Reform Task Force report, which was requested by the state of New York in response to the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. and said that Mr. Ross trusts him. When it came to making deals, the district attorney did not take the time to make sure the defendant understood the charges, did not say what the charges were against the defendant, and “seemed a little dismissive.” .

The document is a series of recommendations on what the court could do better, and its findings do not name Ross, one of the town’s three judges.

Ross, a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association since 1985, read an August letter from the bar association deeming him eligible to run for judge at Oriental Debate.

“That’s not a big surprise,” he said, adding that this is the fourth letter he has received in his career stating that he is qualified to run for judicial office. “So what do we do? What happens if our adversary misstates the facts?”

“I have to go to the judicial court for arraignment. I’m sorry for being absent,” he said, and quietly left the room after his opening statement.

One irritated member of the Oriental Debate audience asked, “What would a candidate do if the president and the governor of New York want felons to be released without bail?” This is up to you, but I’m not sure if there’s anything you can do to address it at this level. ”

Krupski said bail reform, like many other orders without state funding, has proven costly for Suffolk County, adding 42 new people to the district attorney’s office to manage the bail reform program. He said he had to hire someone. He said county lawmakers urged former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to halt the bill to no avail.

“Local governments are also affected by this. It affects local courts and courts,” he said. “As local officials, we have to have good communication with all levels of government so we can say, ‘This is a problem and why.’”

Live streams of both debates are below.



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