PORT JEFFERSON — Port Jefferson Village Council voted to take over the maintenance of the old flowing well basin and adjoining lawn in the old business portion of their regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday, April 1.
At a prior council meeting, resident Ed Patterson informed council he would no longer be mowing the village-owned lot at Canal and Walnut Streets, next to the old flowing well, free of charge for the village after doing so for over 44 years.
Patterson requested the village either pay him $25 each time he mowed the grass to cover the cost of his time and gas or to take over the duty of maintaining the lot between his property and the neighbor to the east, along Canal Street.
Council voted to assume the maintenance of the property rather than pay Patterson, who noted it didn’t seem fair for him to pay for the care and upkeep of the property for over 40 years and not be compensated for the cost and effort of doing so.
Patterson had previously asked council to consider dividing the lawn portion of the property between him and his neighbor and removing the old well basin, which no longer has running water and is full of dirt and weeds.
For several years, Patterson said, he and other residents had maintained the basin, planting flowers in it and painting it to keep it from being “an eye-sore.”
“The old well basin is now in need of a face-lift and I thinks it’s time for the village to step up to the plate in making any improvements,” Patterson said.
Council approved taking over the duties of mowing the grass and maintaining the village property, but did not elaborate on any plans to address or improve the condition of the well basin.
In other old business, council heard a report by council member Tim Smith, who said he had contacted a tree removal service about removing a large dead tree in the village due to the risk imposed in the event it fell down; the cost will be $500.
Council voted to cover the cost of removing the tree and gave Smith permission to contact the tree service about having it removed.
Resident Tom May approached council with a request from his sister and resident, Martha Deal, who was unable to attend. On his sister’s behalf, May requested that she no longer have to pay double the amount for sewage services as she had since 2015 when council increased her sewage bill because her son’s wife and daughters had moved in with her while her son, Bill Deal, who is in the military, was deployed in Germany.
“Bill has purchased a home recently and his family has moved away from Martha’s house,” May said. “There is now only one family living in Martha’s house, so she is requesting she only be charged accordingly and not have to pay double for septic in the future as she has in the past.”
Butterfield reviewed the history of the situation with council, noting that a complaint from another resident in 2015 led to controversy about the temporary circumstances of the additional people living in the Deal household; as a result, her septic bill was doubled.
Butterfield noted that although no resolution, ordinance, or law was passed to address the situation, a council committee had completed a study and determined Deal would have to pay double the normal monthly septic bill due to the additional people living there, to which Deal complied with no argument.
A motion was passed to reduce Deal’s monthly septic bill to its previous amount, prior to the temporary addition of people in the residence.
In other new business, Butterfield noted he had received a notice from the State Liquor Control Board requesting those wishing to continue selling liquor to send in their applications by June 1.
Butterfield asked council if they wanted to request a hearing or give their approval to Hussey’s Restaurant to renew; council approved the renewal and did not request a hearing.
Council heard the first reading of an ordinance requesting the village give the City of Sidney permission to lower the sewage rates by seven percent for 2019. Council declared an emergency, suspending the three-reading rule, and passed the measure.
Butterfield then reported he was dismissing part-time police officer Don Kennedy for not showing up for work and asked council’s permission to interview two new prospects to work for the village police department, as recommended by Police Chief Mark Bell. Council approved his request.
Butterfield will interview Britton Morris and Terry Brentlinger and report his findings to council. Butterfield noted his displeasure with finding and keeping qualified police officers for the village, noting the whole purpose was to provide a good service to the community.
“Our police department is not here to make money for the village, but to provide a higher level of safety and security for our residents,” he said. “We can keep trying to maintain our police department or shut it down completely. It’s up to council, but finding good help is not easy as we have seen; hopefully things will improve over time.”
Council then heard a report by Fiscal Officer Judy Fair about the proposed cost of initiating the LEDS service and MIFI services for the police cruiser to facilitate background checks when vehicles are pulled over by police.
Council approved funding to cover the cost of $100 for the initial hook-up and the $50 a month service fee for a total of $700 for one year.
Butterfield shared a report prepared by Fair concerning overdue septic bills and progress made on getting things caught up. Fair reported that several residents had paid their overdue accounts, but others still owed and had made no effort to pay. Some bills have been delinquent since 2010 when the initial sewage hook-up with the City of Sidney took place.
“We have over $20,000 dollars owed to the village for overdue sewage bills,” Butterfield said. “What does council suggest we do about it?”
Smith asked if council had not already decided to put shut-off valves on those not paying and Butterfield noted he would look into the cost to put a couple shut-off valves in, especially on at least two offenders who owed the most in overdue bills.
The next regular Port Jefferson council meeting will take place May 6, 2019, at 7 p.m., at the Village Community Center. The public is encouraged to attend.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.