What are the issues that concern me in my village?
As a former trustee, a civic leader and 17-year resident I have several major concerns.
I am concerned about the condition of our roadways and other infrastructure. The current board appears to take a reactive stance to most issues within the village rather than a proactive one.
Repairing two small streets that are “the worst on the list” per year (the approach presented at the 2/14/18 Board meeting) will not effectively address the aging of the village road system as a whole over time.
A road assessment dated two years ago shows a large portion of the village in need of repair and now the roads have endured two more winters and are in worse condition. (https://tinyurl.com/y87k2297)
Removing dead limbs from village-owned trees after a dangerous near mishap rather than having an ongoing proactive pruning schedule only pushes expenditures out and creates unsafe situations.
Having no routine maintenance program for street lights, trees, signs and sidewalks will lead to leaving our village in disrepair with insufficient funds to address large expenditures when whole systems age out or need repair simultaneously.
I am concerned about lack of transparency in government.
Transparency is a popular term to throw around during a campaign.
But what does it mean?
It relates to Open Meeting Laws that dictate timing of publishing meeting agendas and minutes, how board meetings can and must be conducted and when it is acceptable for a board to go into Executive Session behind closed doors.(https://tinyurl.com/y6wj4wo2) Over a period of many months in 2016 and 2017 no agendas or minutes of meetings were publicly posted and the practice of posting to the village website was only reinstated after residents requested it be done.
At the conclusion of the last eighteen board meetings, 13 have ended with the Board of Trustees going behind closed doors into executive session with no explanation for it in the minutes of the public meeting. (https://tinyurl.com/y929e4xh)
Open Meeting Laws allow for Executive Session only under certain specific circumstances and the board must state the reason for going into executive session.
By law, a board must also take minutes of any motions, proposals, resolutions or votes made behind closed doors and make them available to the public.
A request for minutes from recent executive sessions made on 2/28/18 has not yet been fulfilled as of the date of this letter.
I am concerned about the financial state of the village.
In spite of more than one request under the Freedom of Information Act, the village has yet to comply with those requests and disclose how much money was spent on legal fees as it related to the lawsuit against the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District, a lawsuit that the village filed, appealed and ultimately lost.
I am concerned how those expenditures have affected the village’s annual budgets and its ability to do proper ongoing maintenance on its roads, sidewalks, trees and other infrastructure.
Legal fees that are estimated to have exceeded $200,000 needed to come from somewhere in the budget. Which line items were reduced to offset the legal fees?
I am concerned about the way our residents are treated.
I personally have been the recipient of name calling and false accusations when attending public board meetings. I was chastised (along with a group of others) and told by the mayor, “I’m sick and tired of the same five people attending every board meeting just to oppose everything we do.”
I have witnessed residents at times be silenced and not allowed to speak in order to share their concerns or ask questions. (https://tinyurl.com/y72ud4q5) I was once asked by an individual retained by the village as I walked into a monthly public meeting, “You’re here again, Sue? Don’t you have anything better to do on a Wednesday night?”
This is not the kind of approachable government that Munsey Park deserves. For a board to truly be approachable, it must welcome residents at open meetings and allow them to speak and share concerns.
Five years ago, a group of Munsey Park residents said, “We can do better for our village.”
I agree! The current board has had five years to show if they can do better. They have had time to demonstrate transparency, to be truly approachable, to make our village the best it can be.
I am concerned. This is not our best. We can do better! It’s time for a change.
Brian Dunning and Nathy Yakaitis are the change we need right now. Both candidates are longtime residents with a passion for making our village the best it can be and truly following laws that dictate open government and best practices.
They are both dedicated to fiscal responsibility, proper maintenance and planning to preserve our beautiful village.
Without a doubt, they will treat residents with respect. Please join me on Tuesday, March 20th at Munsey Park Village Hall between 12:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. to cast your vote for Brian Dunning and Nathy Yakaitis for Trustees.