Resident feels unfairly treated by Flower Hill in lights dispute

Bob Young's Christmas lights display in Flower Hill. The display has caused controversy in the village. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

When Bob Young attended last month’s Flower Hill Board of Trustees meeting, he was expecting to have a conversation about his Christmas lights. Instead, he said, he was ambushed.

My intention at the meeting was to say just let it go, but that was not their intention,” he said. “Their intention was to be vindictive.”

Young was invited to voice his concerns in an email from village Attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff dated Dec. 29. The email was sent due to rising tensions between the village and Young over his popular Christmas light display.

In the email, Blinkoff writes that Young’s emails and text messages had been shared with the Board of Trustees. Young said he did not expect them to be part of an official agenda item that would be presented to those at the meeting.

“That to me was a setup and an ambush, and they should be ashamed of what they did,” Young said of the Jan. 3 meeting.

Young, his wife and his daughter attended the meeting but left before Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington gave his account, which included the reading of text messages exchanged between Young and Herrington and the playing of voicemails Young left on Herrington’s phone.

“Flower Hill has successfully crushed my Christmas and spirit,” Young wrote in one messge. “Congrats on a job well done… Seems like being a grand pubba [sic] in the village has gone to ur [sic] head old sport… can’t believe how dishonest you are.”

Young’s Christmas lights display has been a contentious issue for the village over the last few years. Young covers his property with lights and solicits donations for an organization helping people with eating disorders, both done in memory of his late daughter. The display attracts a fair number of visitors, which has created traffic problems on Sunnyvale Road. 

The village temporarily made Sunnyvale a one-way street and sent officials to keep traffic moving. Problems began around Christmas when a conflict arose between Young and one of the officials. Young said the official was acting aggressively with visitors by running up to cars and shining flashlights in the drivers’ faces.

“They had five people rotating to do this and everyone else was fine, but this one guy had a chip on his shoulder,” Young said. “Two years prior, he was patrolling in front of the house and he was so much better, I even invited him inside for food. This year when I approached him and asked calmly to be respectful, he told me to get away.”

Young’s frustration with the official led to arguments with Herrington through text messages, which were read at the Jan. 3 meeting.

Another point of contention was the collection box, which is located near the road in the village’s right-of-way. The village insisted that Young had to move the box back from the road but it did not have to be removed entirely, according to Jan. 16 email from the village. Young insisted he had a verbal agreement with the village to keep the box there in exchange for limiting the hours of his display. Village officials denied this during the Jan 3. meeting.

“[Mayor Robert McNamara] knows that there isn’t an agreement in writing,” Young said.

Young said he is done dealing with the village and will not discuss future light displays with officials.

“I will no longer be subject to what they impose on us,” he said. “I will leave them on as I want and I will not seek their approval, nor do I need to. I won’t discuss it with them because they’re not honorable people.”

In response to Young’s claims, Herrington released a statement saying the village will continue to discuss the issue.

We have also advised Mr. Young that the Board will again address the exhibition at a future meeting,” the statement said.  “Mr. Young will be welcome at that meeting as well.  The Board is reserving any further comment at this time.” 

About the author

Luke Torrance

Luke Torrance is a reporter for Blank Slate Media covering the Port Washington area.
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