Stony Point Town Board Sets Date for Public Hearing on Budget; Faces Public Ire Over Cell Tower Leases

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

After several weeks of discussions, the Stony Point Town Board adopted the tentative Town budget at its meeting last Tuesday, setting the stage for a public hearing on the preliminary budget October 8. At the suggestion of Councilman James White, the Board also decided to invite the Police Department, the Highway Department and the Ambulance Service to present their budget requests at the October 8 meeting, prior to the opening of the public hearing. In this way the public would be able to get a better understanding of the underlying needs of each department and consequently be better equipped to address those issues during the public hearing.

During the public input portion of the meeting, resident Frank Collyer angrily denounced the Board for selling the Stony Point cell tower leases without presenting the matter to the public for discussion. As first reported by the Rockland County Times in August, the Board agreed during executive session to sell the leases for up to 40 years, bringing in an immediate lump sum of $2.3 million to the town. Collyer questioned the wisdom of opting for a lump sum rather than a steady flow of money, and also questioned the legality of the board making such a decision without public input. Later on, resident George Potanovic backed Collyer and stated his concern with the lack of transparency. He noted that when former Supervisor Marino was considering such a sale, he included the public in the discussion.

Supervisor Geoff Finn responded that despite what Collyer and Potanovic believed to be the limit of executive sessions, negotiations concerning the lease or sale of property for town income falls within the purview of executive meetings. He reiterated that the lease of the cell towers was the subject of confidential negotiations, and that the board unanimously decided it was in the best interests of the town. “We are conserving and using the town’s money wisely,” he stated. “We are not trying to make ourselves look good during an election year.”

Town supervisor candidate Dylan Skriloff, attending the meeting, stated afterward that it will be very important to look at the upcoming budget and see where the funds have been applied. He agreed that there could be greater transparency when it comes to the application of Town funds.

At Finn’s request the board also set a public hearing for October 22 on the issue of establishing a $100,000 repair reserve fund by transferring the money from the much larger Building and Facility Fund. A repair fund would enable the Board to access the money much more easily in order to address immediate repair and upkeep needs of town property. Town Attorney BrianNugent did caution the board, however, that it was not even clear yet whether the funds could be legally transferred as the board envisioned. That question would hopefully be answered by the time of the public hearing.

Finn also reported that the former Lovett site would soon be occupied by Tappan Zee Constructors for the duration of the Tappan Zee Bridge construction. He noted that the five to six year presence of the company would provide an excellent income boost to the town, including the employment of local workers. Additionally, Economic Development Chair Luanne Konopko noted a recent advertising photo shoot at a local resident’s home and urged the community to support such economic innovations as filming in the area.

The board also approved the consolidation of the Stony Point Police Department collective bargaining agreement, and the promotion of Officer Andrew Kreiger to the position of detective.

Resident Susan Filgueras announced that the Stony Point Historical Society has started its “Stories of Stony Point” project. Once a month residents can come to the library and have their tales of Stony Point, past and present, recorded by video and audio. George Potanovic, on behalf of SPACE, encouraged residents to attend the upcoming PSC hearings about the proposed United Water desalination plant, and to also attend SPACE’s upcoming candidates debates. Information about these events can be found at their website, stonypointer.org.