With the Patchogue Village Mayoral Election coming up on March 20, Patchogue Patch has sat down with all of the candidates for Q&A and for a quick video pitch on why you should vote for them. Check back to Patchogue Patch this week for spotlights on the trustee candidates from Patchogue 2012 and Residents First.
Party: Patchogue 2012
Patch: Why have you decided to seek office and what makes you qualified to serve as a trustee/mayor?
Ferb: I have written elsewhere in the Patch on this question. (See )
I’d like to take this opportunity to add to my reasons for seeking office.
I’ve known the mayor for years, mostly casually. I was motivated to reach out to Mayor Pontieri last summer when I received that sent to village residents by Trustees Gerard Crean and Stephen McGiff. Having seen Mayor Pontieri in action for over eight years and having observed his hard work and dedication to our village, I expressed my support. Since that time I’ve come to know Paul and the Patchogue 2012 team on a personal basis. Contrary to rumor, I was not an opportunistic or arbitrary selection for trustee candidate or an ‘old boy‘. I was interviewed by the mayor and the team several times. They liked the fact that I am a registered Republican, but recognize that partisan politics has no place in the village. They also liked my support for “Smart Growth” as a key item on the village agenda. They like the fact that I’m highly educated, but don’t flaunt it. They liked the fact that I'm a US Army veteran. And they like the fact that I’ve been involved in volunteer activities in the village since I arrived.
Patch: What are your thoughts on Patchogue's growth over the past five years?
Ferb: I am very optimistic about our future based on the accomplishments of the last five years. Just take a look at 31 West, formerly the Wedgewood Building. That building was constructed in 1898, over a century ago. In cooperation with the village and other levels of government, Tritec transformed that building into another jewel on Main Street. Our newest restaurant, Hoshi Sushi and Hibachi, will open in March, and the building has been filling up with other new tenants. Fortunately, we have in Tritec a partner with the staying power to do things correctly.
31 West is just one example of progress. Look at any of several developments (River View, River Walk, , Bay Village), or look to the new retail shops on Main Street. While these high visibility developments have progressed, the Pontieri administration has made many infrastructure and environmental improvements and restored financial stability to the village. Our progress over the last five years is undeniable and truly remarkable.
Patch: What are the two biggest issues Patchogue still faces?
Ferb: First, we need to see through the completion of New Village at Four Corners and River Walk. These new developments will bring tax dollars to our village, schools, and town, and the new residents will bring spending to Main Street. These developments will enable local government to stabilize taxes and focus on other pressing issues.
Next, we need to focus on blighted, overcrowded, and misused housing. I have not walked the entire village yet, but in the neighborhoods that I have walked, I’ve seen overcrowded and/or blighted residences in every neighborhood. My colleagues on the Patchogue 2012 ticket have reported similar concerns. We’ve heard from residents that their complaints on overcrowding, noise, blighted residences, smoke from illegal burning, discos in basements, and more have fallen on deaf ears.
The village government (building, public safety, fire code, the village attorney) in concert with the Suffolk County Police, social services, church groups, civic groups, cooperating residents, volunteers, and anyone else who can make a difference needs to address these problems. We recognize that we must operate within the law, but we pledge to address these problems, neighborhood by neighborhood. If a homeowner is under undue economic stress or has health issues, we’ll do our best to find a way to help directly, perhaps with the aid of civic groups or volunteers. If the problem is a negligent landlord, we’ll focus code and law enforcement to bring the property up to acceptable community standards.
A related quality of life issue concerns businesses on the river. We could call the Patchogue River our second downtown. Noise, traffic, drunk and disorderly conduct, and lack of respect for private property along the river create problems for residents. Serial offenders blatantly ignore violations and game the system to avoid closure and fines. These businesses should be good neighbors and comply with the standards that we deserve and expect from a neighbor.
Patch: Are you for or against project and why?
Ferb: I am a strong supporter of the New Village at Four Corners development. When completed, this development will bring significant new tax dollars to our village, schools, and town as well as new patrons to local businesses. I believe that this development is crucial to Patchogue’s renaissance.
Patch: What kind of time commitment would you be able to put toward the mayor/trustee position?
Ferb: I’m semi-retired and work only 20 hours each week. I have time to spare for the trustee position.
Patch: In what ways would you reach out to Patchogue's large Hispanic community?
Ferb: Patchogue does indeed have a substantial Hispanic/Latino community and has for at least a decade. The 2010 US Census shows that Patchogue Village had 11,798 residents and that 29.6% were of Latino or Hispanic descent. That’s roughly 3 in 10, higher than New York State at 17.6% and Suffolk County at 16.5%. In 2000 the population of Latino or Hispanic descent was 23.8% when the population was 12,919. Patchogue has attracted Latino or Hispanic residents by virtue of the fact that there is a well-established community here. These residents are well served by local businesses and churches.
Mayor Pontieri has reached out to the Latino community over the last several years and has been welcomed as a crusader for fair treatment and the rule of law. As a village trustee, I will look to the mayor’s leadership in this area. I would like to see more minority residents represented on the village boards; I know that the mayor is always on the lookout for candidates.
Patch: What's your goal for the makeup of Patchogue's Main Street at the end of the next four years?
Ferb: Real progress on Main Street is contingent on the ground breaking and completion of the New Village at Four Corners. “If you build it, they will come” actually works for commercial enterprises. We have had 25 new businesses open in recent years. We have a critical mass already in restaurants. The restaurants and the have made Patchogue Village a destination. Many of the other new businesses such as , , , and rely heavily on foot traffic. Once the New Village court case is settled, we can actively recruit new businesses to Main Street using our own and county resources.
In four years, by this time in 2016, I expect great changes. The Brookhaven facility on West Main Street may be converted to a commercial use adding a new “who knows what” to the village as well as added parking to downtown. The Carnegie Library will be moved and operating as a “who knows what”. Perhaps the owners of other empty store fronts in the center of the village will be convinced by the ongoing economic vibrancy to lease or sell their properties!
Patch: There are many vacancies on Main Street; how would you propose enticing new businesses to open up in Patchogue?
Ferb: To attract new businesses to our village we have to make the village more attractive to them. That means foot traffic, buying power, and a core demographic to shop and engage with local businesses. The completion of New Village at Four Corners and River Walk will contribute substantially to these pre-conditions.
Next, I’d like to see the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District, in cooperation with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County, take the lead on attracting new businesses to the village and to Main Street as well as to our town and county. A regional focus can have a scale that the village just cannot hope to manage alone and can bring expertise and resources to addressing these needs. In this context, I think that the Village of Patchogue, a vibrant center and destination on the south shore, will be a magnet for growth and development.
In addition, I know from friends that the process of opening a local business can be time consuming, expensive, and at times daunting. The Village of Patchogue staff is recognized as very helpful in this process. Not so for the county, especially the County Board of Health. This bureaucracy needs to become more streamlined and business-friendly. This type of change is something that our county leadership can accomplish.
Patch: What are three of your hobbies?
Ferb: I am an avid saltwater fisherman and bird watcher. I also enjoy playing chess.
Patch: How would your best friends/family describe you?
Ferb: I asked them, and here’s what they said: Gentlemanly, intelligent, level-headed, thoughtful, considerate, warm, hardworking.