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Promises

Patchogue Village should hold developers to their commitments to the Village, and our elected officials should keep their promises to Village residents.

Patchogue Village applauded when Capital Management LLC (the O’Hara brothers) built owner-occupied housing units on South Ocean Avenue (Bay Village) to replace two large boarding houses that were blighting our community.

When they were elected on the Patchogue First platform, our Village Board had made a promise to Village residents that they would fight high density rental housing, and they kept their promise in this instance.

Even so, the developer on the site was given special permission by the Village of Patchogue to build more units than the village code permits. In return for this exception, the developer agreed to make a substantial contribution to the community by making much needed improvements to , an absolute gem of beautiful waterfront property that has tremendous but still unrealized potential.

In January of 2006, before the Village Planning Board, the developer promised to make improvements to the park in excess of $100,000. The Planning Board made it a condition of their approval of the plan that the developers make those improvements to the park in consultation with the Village Board. See Planning Board minutes and determination, dated January 17, 2006.

This past August 22, 2011, a village resident (Bruce Boerjes) asked Mayor Pontieri about the status of the improvements to the park which have yet to be made, more than four years later. Mr. Pontieri told the resident “that money will come through and I have been in constant contact with him (the developer).” He assured Mr. Boerjes that “the contractor did not walk away from the project.” Trustee Devlin also confirmed that “It is in the minutes of the Planning Board, as I sat on the Planning Board at that time and it was part of the grant.” See Village Board minutes dated August 22, 2011.

On November 28, 2011, I attended a Village Board meeting and inquired again about these improvements. The Mayor informed me that the developer was not obligated to make these improvements because the agreement “was never in writing.” He said the developer may build a $25,000 playground instead. This flies in the face of the planning board determination, and contradicts the Mayor and the developer’s previous representations. In effect, if the Mayor permits the developer to renege on its commitment, this constitutes a substantial gift to the developer.

Despite the fact that the developer never made improvements to our park, it was issued a Certificate of Occupancy for Bay Village, and was also issued a Certificate of Occupancy for its new project on the corner of Main Street and Potter (). The ribbon cutting for this project is on December 1, 2011.

The Mayor should direct the Village attorney to hold this developer to its commitment and to the conditions of the Planning Board approval. And he should make it clear to all developers that if they make a commitment to Village residents, they will be required to honor those commitments.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

greatsouthbay December 02, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Wow ...
Bryley December 02, 2011 at 04:21 PM
They didn't get that in writing?? At this level, with attorneys present, no one thought it prudent to include that clause in the contract. In any industry heads would roll for a mistake of this magnitude-whats even more curious is that the mayor is 'not fit to be tied'
Arlene Lamberti December 02, 2011 at 09:50 PM
What is that all about????
greatsouthbay December 04, 2011 at 06:12 PM
I would really like to know who was charged with overseeing the department from which this agreement should have originated?? Would not one of the trustees have had the building dept as their responsibility? Would really like to know who that was?
John Bogack December 08, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Let's get that money for the park if that was inideed what was promised. I am in agreement with everyone here that a promise made is a promise to be kept. When developers go before the Planning Board and make committments on which approvals are conditioned then that sounds like a contract to me even if not specifically in writing. Certainly as Mrs. Mcquire has already referenced there are written minutes of that committment that do exist and it would seem to me since there is a record it can be enforced. Patchogue Village can not be the Rodney Dangerfield of villages where it does not get the respect for its instituutions that it deserves. If so it just invites more broken promises and not less of them. If the builders got approval for extra units that means they made a bundle of money and some of those profits have now got be coughed up in the full amount that was pledged. I think it would be useful if Mrs. McQuire attended the next meeting of the Trustees and presented the Trustees with a copy of the relevant minutes just so all the facts are on record once again. Let the Mayor and the trustees take another look at what was promised, what was delivered, and what ought to be done now for the public good of our village. Knowing them I think they would take the actions that were needed. They certainly deserve to be given a chance to remedy a wrong if once those minutes are publicly revealed a wrong is proven to exist.
jinxed December 08, 2011 at 04:50 PM
John...at the time the Deputy Mayor was Mr.McGiff who is also an attorney...don't you think HE should've made sure all of this was in order AND in writing?
Elisabeth McGuire December 08, 2011 at 05:07 PM
I would be happy to bring the Planning Board minutes with me on Monday night if the Board can't locate them. The Mayor can try to blame the former Village attorney or the former Deputy Mayor or anyone else he chooses for not getting the full amount of money promised, but he assured Mr. Boerjes in August that he was talking to the O'Hara brothers constantly and that they would deliver on their promise. The buck stops with him.
jinxed December 08, 2011 at 05:59 PM
The Mayor doesn't blame anyone and always agrees that the "buck stops with him" BUT shouldn't anyone, especially the Deputy Mayor, have HIS back and OUR back in a situation like this?
John Bogack December 09, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Practical solutions are what we need not blame. I agree Jinxed in a better world it would have been nice if the committment had been in an iron clad written document. But we have to take the world as it is. Now it's time for citizen power to force that promise of a 100,000 dollars for the park to be kept. It's a sum that would mean a transformation of Shorefront park into the gem that Mrs. McQuire rightly foresees for that space. How do we get there now though that is the question. And the answer in my humble opinion begins with establishing the facts. Let's get what written record does exist out front and public. Speaking truth to power and turning the Mayor and the trustees into allies of that cause should follow. I don't want to put him or any Trustee on the defensive. if the facts are so obvious that they can't be denied I belleve right will be done. Call me a fool but I alway think it's best to appeal to people to do their best and treat them right to allow them to be their best. That's called respect. And the rest of citizen power in this situation is when people like me and you and everyone else who feels the same way shows up at that meeting and demands action where action is needed. Liz McQuire is a voice of conscience. She should not stand alone.
Ben Vitale December 09, 2011 at 02:57 AM
John, I agree with you! Get the facts first, and then consider the options based on facts, not accusations. I also believe that these forums should be conducted in a civil fashion. I as well as many other people have a tendency to write text that sometimes appears to have an angry connotation. Respect is the key to any successful discussion, as opposed to what I call "testosterone driven behavior!" Anger solves nothing! My friend shared something with me that was taught to him by his grandfather; "pay me with gold and I will pay you back with gold." That "says it all."
Elisabeth McGuire December 09, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Thank you John and Ben for your kind words. I don't want to appear rude, but I may not reply to any more posts for a few days due to a family medical crisis. I really appreciate your support, and will try my best to come on Monday night with whatever supportive documentation I have. In my opinion, it is quite clear that the Village has been shortchanged in this circumstance and many others. Thank you, and have a nice weekend!
Bob December 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Mayor Pontieri had a big fundraiser on December 14th in Yaphank with mostly developers and contractors that do business with the Village. Why do you think that is?
Chris Barcelo January 23, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Also I think that the fundamental argument should not be lost in over examination. When conducting business on behalf of the people, make sure the people have their ends met. Not just the developers. What about our backs? As an elected official isn't that his ONLY job?
Chris Barcelo January 23, 2012 at 05:59 PM
It's easier for people to be in a slumber until it negatively or directly effects them. We are starting to see quite a few wake up. Let's just pray this continues.
Elisabeth McGuire February 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
At last night’s Patchogue Village Board meeting it became evident that very little progress has been made in recovering the $100,000 that Capital Management, LLC agreed to pay Patchogue Village as a stipulation of its 2006 planning board approval for the Bay Village condominiums. These funds were intended for improvements to Shorefront Park. After this blog was published, Mayor Pontieri assured us at the December 12, 2011 board meeting that the O’Hara Brothers would be held to their Planning Board requirement and that the Village would collect the full amount it is owed ($100,000 as stated in the Planning Board minutes--not a lesser amount tied to a particular playground project). When Trustee McGiff inquired last night, debate ensued about the use of these funds and where they may be best applied. While I can appreciate the varying viewpoints, I strongly believe that the Mayor should take the reins and secure this funding now, regardless of its final application. There are a myriad of recreational and beautification improvements that can be made to Shorefront Park. It’s been long enough--let’s secure the full $100,000 for the Village now and put it to good use. We need to hold developers to their promises, do the necessary follow up, and recover funds that are owed to this Village in full.
Stinkerbelle February 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM
How did Trustee McGiff get taken off point? If he posed the question: "Where are these monies?", why did he not follow up? Since I was not at the board meeting I do not know the exact wording of Mr. McGiff's "inquiry" .
jimmy murphy February 15, 2012 at 12:25 AM
If the Mayor says he’s talking to them personally and he is going to get the $100k from them then he should do that. Especially since they are one of the many developers supporting his re-election campaign. Go look and see what Capital Management, Tritec and others are donating to Pontieri in his campaign. My guess is Pontieri already told them not to worry about paying the $100k just like I believe he told Lombardi’s and his other buddies not to worry about their sewer hook up fees.
John Bogack February 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I am surprised that ths issue is stil not resolved. I was at the Board meeting and I wish I had a copy of the minutes to refer to (that will have to wait till their approval in a few weeks). But it is my recollection that bills have been sent Capital Management for the hundred thousand dollars and they simply have not been paid. My recollection is the plan was to send out another bill. Way earlier in this discussion Ben Vitale advocated for legal action to get payment. I think he is right. Maybe too what ought to happen is that residents in and around Shore front park have got to come out to a Board meeting as a group and advocate for the monies and the uses the money could be put to. Concerned public action never hurts since it communicates to our elected officials that people do care and if a lot of people care it rubs off on elected officials who feel more energized about getting results. This is a very clear example for what Amy Keyes advocated for not that long ago; a civic association in and around Shore Front Park. The park needs local residents to advocate for it. Seems like now is the time to get going on that idea, stick with it, get the cash and then make the improvements one hundred thousand dollars would mean. Jimmy Murrphy says that Capital Management supports Mayor Pontieri's re-election. If they really did they would do him some good by paying up now and do themselves some good too by not looking like deadbeats.
Jo Miller February 15, 2012 at 02:44 PM
John. as usual a sane and reasoned point of view. , presented in a respectful manner. Keep posting.
Elisabeth McGuire February 15, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Hi John, All good points. I did not get the impression that there was an actual invoice that was submitted to Capital Management, but perhaps there was. The Mayor indicated that some form of communication went out that remained unanswered, and he had previously stated that he was in constant personal contact with them about the funding. In any case, it would be great to educate and mobilize some residents on this issue as well. I know some residents in close proximity to the park that may want to rally, and will reach out to them. Thanks as always for your input.
Ben Vitale February 15, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I agree! Thank you John for bringing civility to our current Patchogue Village dialogue. If you ever run for office in the future, you have my vote!
John Bogack February 15, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Hi Liz. I realize there is a campaign going on so I am not sure how the Mayor views your involvement in this issue. I hope it doesn't come as a shock to either you or Steve McGiff that the Mayor might not be sending you both any Christmas cards next season. But I am going to hope that the issue of the park transends all other concerns and I am acting on that basis which I believe is your basis for action too. I think that there has to be some public reaction that empowers the Mayor in his dealings with Capital Management. Everyone involved has got to come a decision point and that will only come when the public has had enough with delays. If Capital Management knows that to be the case they have the choice of dealing with a Mayor who has been more than reasonable with them and pay up like now, or face a law suit. Or I guess they could come to the next Board meeting and present some other option that could represent a solution in the very near future and I mean by that for this summer and no later. There has been a lot of discussion lately about including the public more in the decision making process of the Village government. And Village government can and should do more to make that possible. But in the end there is no substitute for personal committment. If people want park improvements they must be willing to come out on a winter's night, hang around for a couple of hours, and then tell the Mayor and the Trustees they want action and no more excuses.
Elisabeth McGuire February 15, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Hi John, I would be willing to give up all of my Christmas cards if developers would follow through on the promises they make to this Village Administration. As I've said in the past, it shouldn't be this difficult to enforce a Planning Board stipulation, especially in this case where this same developer just built another new development in the Village (Checkers) and received all the approvals it needed to do so. I agree with you about the need for public pressure, but I regret that it is even necessary to put so much pressure on the Administration to hold the developers accountable. In this case it is simply about enforcing a decision already made by the Planning Board. My concern is not about the Mayor's feelings about my political involvement but about accountability and standing up for the residents. Elected officials need to hold these developers to their commitments to this Village. In my opinion,the goal should be to immediately recover the full 100,000 they promised to contribute over 5 years ago, and then to proceed with planning the park improvement projects from there. All the suggestions on here are good ones. Keep them coming and have a great night!
Jo Miller February 16, 2012 at 06:51 PM
John, I agree with you that there needs to be more public involvement in Shorefront Park and many other issues. However, I don't believe it's because residents don't want to come out "on a winter's night" Rightly or wrongly. residents perceive themselves as powerless, not having an impact on events. Therefore they don't come out. The less we are engaged, the less impact we have and then the more powerless we feel. It's a vicious cycle. Does anyone have any ideas about to break this cycle?
Elisabeth McGuire February 16, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Hi Jo, I agree with you. I think there are ways to create a more open government. We believe all board meetings should be available on video via TV and/or the internet. Village Hall could also have some Saturday hours for working residents. Community Issues Forums like those Residents First is having are also important. There is also the idea of a Citizens Advisory Board that NU Village has proposed, which also has merit. I'm encouraged to see residents like you, Ben, John and others become more vocal in this online forum. Resident participation, input and more consensus building is definitely needed in this Village. I also think transparency is equally important. Information and updates should be made more accessible to residents. For example, I recently inquired to find out when the State Comptroller's Audit of Patchogue Village will be released this year. Mr. DiNapoli's office informed me that it is actually still ongoing and that the report will not be made available until later this year. When the report is issued, it will become available at www.osc.state.ny.us. This is very helpful information, and something most residents probably don't know. If you have any other questions about the NY State audit of Patchogue Village, you can also contact them at LocalGov@osc.state.ny.us. I would love to hear more ideas on how to create a more open, transparent and inclusive Village government!
Bob February 17, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Developers like Tri-tec and Capital Management have made Patchogue a laughing stock in the real estate and construction industries. They know they can get away with anything if they come here and Pontieri will give them anything they want. That's why they give him "Man of the Year" awards from bogus building and housing associations and donate so much money to his political campaigns. Why would they support someone who they know will stand up to them and hold their feet to the fire. We don't know how to negotiate and we look very foolish. We are the Rodney Dangerfield of Long Island communities. We can't get no respect.
Andy Miller February 17, 2012 at 09:54 PM
From Long Island Business News: “They’re great businesses,” Pete O’Hara said of Checkers. “You can make a lot of money if they’re run properly.” Well Mr. O’Hara if you have so much dough why not make good on the promise you made to Patchogue Village to give $100 grand to Shorefront park? Mascot dock could use some monetary help too according to Trustee Hilton. Make good on your promise and share the wealth ! Mayor Pontieri brags you are a “wonderful partner.” Prove it and give us the $100,000 you owe us from 2006. Maybe the Village will be nice and not charge you the interest you owe us.
florence casey February 18, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Another screw up. Why don’t you get those builders of Bay Village to pony up on the dock? If they still owe the village $100,000 wouldn’t that help solve this problem? People love that dock. We are a waterfront community. Save the dock and dump the apartments you are trying to squeeze on main street. We can’t pay to fix the dock but we can pay to mess up Terry Street and make it a one way. We can pay to take West avenue from the county and design it like a big parking lot. Who is making these brilliant decisions? Where are the priorities in this village?
John Bogack February 19, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Jo. I saw your comments a few days ago and also Elizabeth McQuire's as well. And have been thinking about an answer. I wish I had one that completely solved everythig but I don't. I don't think there is just one answer although at heart what I said about people coming out on a winter's night to advocate for their neighborhoods is a truth. Sometimes there does come a time when you can't be a summer soldier if you want to win whatever struggle you find yourself in. Otherwise I think improving civic life in the village just requires going at it one small step at a time and being patient. Televised Board meetings was something I advocated to the Board more than a year and half ago at one of its meetings. Now candidates from both parties see the need. I think after the election is over we will see those meetings. If I can use a gardening analogy, you have to plant a seed and keep gardening until you get what you set out to grow knowing that it might take longer than you thought. Lastly I would also say we could use many different neighborhood civic associations. A one size fits all civic association I think is not going to work in the end. We actually have a lot of neighborhoods in our small village. If people banded together more to improve those areas in and around where they actually lived I have a sense we would be well on our way to seeing a lot more people positively engaged in the civic life of the village and with good result.
good taste March 14, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Mrs. McGuire's determination to help our village is evident in the posting 'Promises' which she wrote last December. 'Promises' is about the $100,000 that Capital Management LLC promised the village in 2006 and they still haven't paid. Read the post and the responses to learn more. Our village could put $100,000 to good use.

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