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Posted on: January 12, 2021

Supervisor Wehrheim Addresses the State of the Town

State of the Town

This past year has been unprecedented on many fronts. Despite all we have endured, the Town of Smithtown continues to flourish as we continue to work together in service to the community. As we embark on a new year ahead, this administration remains optimistic of all that we have done and what is ahead for the Town of Smithtown. Over the next year we will continue our efforts to combat COVID-19, working together with government agencies and organizations to ensure an efficient vaccine distribution. We will continue our partnership with other levels of government, our school districts and local small businesses to enhance quality of life, help foster job growth and provide a cleaner environment for generations to come. 

Renovations to Parks and Beaches:

As we approach one year of living during a worldwide pandemic, our parks system has never been more important to the quality of life for each resident. Over the past year, we have made a number of improvements, repairs and complete renovations to our beaches and parks. We have completely renovated Kings Park Memorial Park, Morewood Park and Flynn Memorial Ballpark. We have made vast improvements throughout our parks system, including replacing the playground at Brady Park, and creating a custom walkway adjoining the Nesconset Gazebo to Nesconset Library/Charles P. Toner Park. At Gibbs Pond Park, we’ve installed new state-of-the-art LED sports lighting, turf resurfacing, and reconditioned the Tennis & Basketball Courts. We’ve also completed a number of improvements to the Firematic Training Facility for our incredible volunteer firefighters. In Kings Park, Savatt Square received a makeover with new landscaping and plantings. The Highway and Parks Departments have recently completed the restoration and paving of over a mile of the Hike & Bike Trail. We’ve repaired the pier at Kings Park Bluff, and have added a new rock wall to protect the pier from erosion or severe storms. The town also completed a number of renovations at Long Beach this year, including the construction of a stage-like platform for summer concerts and new pavilion over at Schubert's Beach. We’ve upgraded the bathroom, and installed a new fueling system and dispensers with competitive pricing at the Long Beach Marina. Currently, we are in the process of installing a new playground at Short Beach, to be completed in time to enjoy the warmer weather. 

In the year ahead, we will continue the promise of restoring our parks system with the complete renovations of parks like East Hills and Laurel, along with replacing the turf fields at Moriches Soccer Complex. By the end of 2021, we will have completed the restoration process of over 75% of the town’s parks and beaches in a four-year period.

Landing County Club:

At Landing Country Club, the Parks Department is in the process of completing new surfacing around the pool, along with the installation of permanent shade structures and a stairwell replacement. We are also in the process of installing a new bathroom and small concession area at the entrance to the country club (3rd and 4th hole) to accommodate golfers. This work complements the golf course renovation completed in the previous year, which included the repaving of the golf cart paths and roadway, a custom-built starter shack and halfway house, the landscaping of the entryway island, as well as brand new sidewalks, benches and fencing. 

Flynn Memorial Ballpark:

Flynn Memorial Ballpark is now a state-of-the-art complex, complete with resurfaced synthetic turf with a built-in drainage system underneath. The four fields are equipped with warning tracks and pitchers’ warm-up mounds, and LED Energy efficient sports lighting. At the center, a two-story air-conditioned building houses a concession stand, pro shop and handicapped accessible bathrooms on the first floor with a press box on the second floor for officials. The town will complete this project before the Spring season with the paving of the parking lot and a construction of a new playground area, relocated to be more central to the fields. It is our hope that we will all be able to enjoy a spectacular opening day celebration together, pending the curve of the coronavirus. 

Off-Street Parking Municipal Lot:

In early November, the town commemorated the completion of a newly constructed Municipal Parking Lot located on Pulaski Road, just off Main Street. This project was funded through a $500,000 Jumpstart grant, awarded a little over one year ago. The municipal lot contains 23 spaces, an electric vehicle charging station with two spaces for EV vehicles, and state-of-the-art LED cost-efficient lighting. The lot is surrounded by ornate fencing, and is fully landscaped with evergreens, and arborvitaes, providing additional privacy for the surrounding residency. This was a key initiative identified by public input and community market analysis to help revive Kings Park. The studies proved that the businesses along Main Street were suffering due to a lack of sufficient parking. The parking lot was also crucial to alleviating traffic, as vehicles would build up in search of on-street parking. This is the second municipal lot project completed in a downtown business district over the last two years, with Bellemeade Avenue Municipal Parking Lot finalized in Smithtown in late 2018. I am very pleased to announce that by the end of 2021, the Town of Smithtown will have off-street parking lots in all three of its small business districts. 

Lake Avenue Revitalization:

The Lake Avenue Revitalization Project will be completed this Spring with the final milling (leveling and smoothing) and paving of the entire strip. In the Fall of 2020, the town began to plant new trees along Lake Avenue as a part of the final phase; the streetscape began under the leadership of H2M and Traffic Safety Director Mitch Crowley. Residents will begin to notice the Victorian-style, ornamental lamp posts installed, along with the bases for new crosswalks and a masthead traffic light at Woodlawn and Lake. Additionally, utility companies have begun removing the wire clutter, double and old poles. Matching street signage is to follow, complimenting the decorative crosswalks, stamped concrete and brand new ornate street lighting. The final accents include new waste receptacles and street benches. I would like to acknowledge Superintendent Robert Murphy, and the Highway Department, our boots on the ground, assisting residents and businesses alike and ensuring a safe and smooth construction process. The sheer size and scope of this project, which spans from Route 25 to Route 25A involved the incredible coordination, communication and teamwork of DEW, Engineering, Highway, Planning, Public Safety, Traffic Safety, Councilmen McCarthy and Lohmann, and private contractors. These men and women deserve our praise for their commitment to seeing this vital project through to completion despite a year that was unpredictable in so many ways.

New Park & Off-Street Parking:

The former Irish Viking site has been completely demolished and the lot has been cleared of debris. I am very pleased to announce that the Town of Smithtown will begin planning to build a municipal parking lot at the location, surrounding what will be a beautiful new park. The park design and construction is made possible thanks to a partnership with Celebrate St James, who is spearheading a massive fundraising effort to create the park. The design for the new park was created by St James residents; Landscape Architect, Bob Retnauer of RDA and Architect, Michael Morbillo of Enspire Design Group. I would encourage everyone to visit CelebrateStJames.org to view the plans for the park, or if you’d like more information on how to contribute. 

Comprehensive Master Plan:

I am also very pleased to announce that the Town has begun to present the draft of the Comprehensive Master Plan to the public for review. This is an essential road map to our future, which is why it is so critical that members of the community participate. Residents may visit SmithtownNY.gov and click on the button “Smithtown’s Draft Master Plan” under the Citizen Help Center for virtual meeting dates, how to participate, and detailed documentation on the process. 

Environmental Efforts:

Smithtown’s reputation as Tree City USA remains stronger than ever this year, with the planting of 500 trees by the Department of Environment and Waterways (DEW) and an additional 175 plantings by the Highway Department. The Department of Environment and Waterways has taken great strides in improving our water quality, seeding a total of 540,000 juvenile hard clams and 50,000 juvenile oysters this year. The Meadow Road Stormwater Remediation bioswale was spearheaded and completed by the Engineering Department this year. This natural method of filtering stormwater uses various species of trees and plants as organic filtration devices. This past year, the Town of Smithtown collected close to 45 tons of household hazardous waste and safely shredded over 16 tons of paper. The Highway Department continues to make great strides to prevent stormwater pollution with the cleaning of 466 catch basins and swept 469 miles roads triannually. The town has reduced the use of salt by 10-15% during the winter months by using a beet juice brine system to prevent icing on the roads. By the end of the 2021 calendar year, the Town of Smithtown hopes to have installed it’s third EV Charging Station, creating an electric vehicle charging station in each of the three central business districts. 

Regional Fueling Station: 

The Regional Fueling Station at the Kings Park Highway Yard was also completed. Additionally, the Regional Fueling Station at the Parks Department in Kings Park is nearly complete. A consolidated funding grant of $902,363 from the State was awarded to the Town by New York Regional Economic Development council for the government efficiency project. This is a shared service based initiative which consolidates municipal and emergency response fueling operations, saving the taxpayer funds across multiple government agencies. 

Going Paperless:

The town has made a vigorous effort to digitize all historic records through grant money from New York State. This is a vigorous effort to digitize all historic records with a renovated location for the town attorney's office to store critical records.

COVID-19 Response:

From the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Town of Smithtown orchestrated a unique central communications matrix, consisting of local food banks, shelters, school districts, charitable organizations & non-profits, first responders, local chambers, volunteers, local church/religious groups, food establishments and everyone in between. The objective was to ensure no one was forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with the help of many organizations and individuals, The Town of Smithtown has helped to facilitate various supply donations, meal delivery, PPE appropriation and even fabric allotments which went to deliver hand sewn face masks. The Senior Citizens Department has gone to great lengths to deliver weekly meals to high-risk seniors along with focusing its maintenance and repair services on outdoor projects. We’ve helped local small businesses by filming and producing Virtual Tours, which air on Smithtown GTV, and social media. We also implemented and launched an online system for food establishments to file for temporary outdoor accommodations. Horizons Counseling and Education Center and the Youth Bureau continue to conduct outreach and community service through initiatives such as creating a kindness rock campaign, Thank You signs for essential workers and facilitating an Animal Food Drive for the wildlife at Sweetbriar Nature Center. The Department of Recreation succeeded in evolving the entire recreation schedule so kids could enjoy the summer safely. We even produced a special Graduation Message for the class of 2020 with help from all four school districts and about 20 noteworthy alumni. The list of ways we’ve endured this virus together is simply endless. I will conclude by adding that the town, together with the Smithtown Central School District is currently looking into ways to help get local Teachers, high risk seniors and those essential workers who are eligible according to NY State regulations vaccinated. This is all very preliminary and involves a great deal of work. But if successful, could help get us back to normalcy a bit sooner. 

Despite a global pandemic, civil unrest and natural disasters over the last year, the Town of Smithtown was able to deliver incredible improvements and services to the residents. We focused on projects that provide the residents with a return on investment and took immediate measures at the beginning of the pandemic to mitigate the possibility for fiscal fallout. We decreased over-time and cut discretionary spending by 15% in 2020. We implemented a retirement incentive which preserved jobs and reduced Salaries in the 2021 budget, amounting to a little over $600,000. We looked to reducing expenditures, reinventing our old ways of doing business and created new opportunities to make up for pandemic related shortfalls. This year we delivered a 2021 operating budget with the lowest overall tax increase in Suffolk County. Of which, had it not been for the pandemic, the town would have been able to decrease due to assessed evaluations on the rise. Property values are up, small businesses are choosing Smithtown as a home and our parks & beaches are and will continue to be updated for your enjoyment with family and friends. This beautiful town, our home, remains environmentally sound, financially strong and our commitment to service has never been more resounding. On behalf of the Town of Smithtown administration, department leadership and every Municipal employee, we wish good health and hope to the community, and we look forward to the year ahead. 

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