The Islip Town Board Meetings returned to in-person sessions on Tuesday, Aug. 10, and community members took full advantage to voice concerns about ongoing issues in their respective neighborhoods.
The Greater Islip Association, better known as the Stop Island Hills group on Facebook, had a significant showing, and a protest was held half an hour prior to the meeting.
This is not the first protest that the GIA has held at Islip Town Hall, as they made a point to make a stand during executive sessions of the board.
Taking pandemic precautions of 6-foot distancing and masks, only a dozen attendees could actually sit in the boardroom. Others were allowed to congregate on the landing and in the hallway watching a live-stream of the meeting. With the lack of a microphone for speakers, it was difficult to hear the community members speak.
“Our goal is to keep the town and its community members safe. There were concerns for having a microphone as it would be exposed to multiple speakers. We are currently working to improve the situation,” said a spokesperson for the town.
“The lack of communication between the town and residents during the meeting was a disappointment,” said GIA representative John Tafe. “There were not enough seats for residents and there was no microphone at the podium [for community members], which made it impossible to hear speakers in the hallway where the live-stream was broadcast.”
“New York State regulations regarding New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) are very specific and the town has an obligation to follow them. The entire SEQRA process id designed to thoroughly review a project under consideration giving the community the opportunity to comment offer suggestions and input on the project if ultimately it is to be approved,” said the town.
Idle Hour mansion
There were about 10 members of the Oakdale community present to address issues with the Idle Hour and Vanderbilt mansion. Al Kaufman and David Chan, members of the Idle Hour neighborhood watch, spoke about recent extensive vandalism and the foreign owner’s lack of security for the mansion.
Chan challenged the board, saying that it seemed that the owner of Idle Hour was being held to a looser standard than other residents in the neighborhood.
Maryann Almes and Michelle Burke, officers of the Oakdale Historical Society, both gave impassioned testimony about the destruction and degradation of the Idle Hour mansion and implored the town to keep pressure on the owners.
Burke said that in the five years since she and her family bought their home in Oakdale, the situation at Idle Hour has worsened dramatically, despite Mercury International’s initial assurances that they would keep the history of the property.
Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter addressed the concerns, and said she had been in contact with the police commissioner regarding increased police presence at the Idle Hour mansion to deter criminal activity. In addition, Carpenter had been in touch with the town attorney to determine, given the historical status of the mansion, whether the town could require Mercury International to put up closed-circuit security cameras.