Greenport Village Notes: Trustees feud over scheduling concerns

Rescheduling a meeting is usually routine. But on Monday night, Greenport Trustee Mary Bess Phillips used the occasion to take a swipe at one of her colleagues who was absent from the Village Board meeting.

Discussing the need to change two February Village Board meeting dates, Ms. Phillips commented that Trustee Chris Kempner had indicated via e-mail that she couldn’t attend if the meetings were moved to Tuesday nights.

“If anybody has a volatile schedule, I have a volatile schedule,” she said of Ms. Kempner’s scheduling problem. Ms. Phillips said in the past she’d had to change her personal schedule constantly to accommodate meetings of both the Village Board and its subcommittees. Some of those changes, she added, were made in response to Ms. Kempner’s scheduling needs.

Ms. Phillips said that, as a trustee, village meetings were a priority for her — and should be for the rest of the board.

Board members didn’t comment but voted to change the Monday meetings originally set for Feb. 21 and 28 to Tuesdays, Feb. 15 and 22, both at 6 p.m. The Feb. 21 meeting date had to be changed because of the Presidents Day holiday and on Feb. 28, both Mayor David Nyce and Ms. Phillips will be in Albany at the New York Conference of Mayors “on village business,” Ms. Phillips said.

Ostensibly to accommodate Ms. Kempner’s schedule, Ms. Phillips offered to schedule the first meeting for Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14. Mr. Nyce balked, saying that wouldn’t sit well with his wife.

“Accusations about my motivations and priorities when I am not present are unnecessary and unprofessional,” Ms. Kempner commented later via e-mail. She explained that she has child care issues on Tuesday nights, when her husband works and her baby sitter isn’t available. She questioned the need to change the meeting dates and said that, in the future, all dates should be worked out for the year instead of only weeks in advance.

A vote to pay $5,000 in legal fees for the Zoning Board of Appeals prompted board members to consider the issue of legal fees in general and how much they are costing the village. Board critic Bill Swiskey said he wondered why the village seemed to be spending so much more on legal fees than previous boards spent.

He addressed the question to Ms. Phillips, a former ZBA chairwoman, but she refused to comment until she could look into how much the village was paying and the reasons for the charges.

Mr. Nyce said that both the ZBA and Planning Board had a number of applications for major projects that required legal expertise, including a convenience store that initially opened without a certificate of occupancy.

It will cost a bit more to use McCann’s Campground this year. The Village Board voted Monday night to allow village administrator Dave Abatelli to raise rates for trailer and tent campers between May and October by up to 5 percent.
Currently, trailer owners pay $35 per night or $210 for a week’s stay. If they rent for a full month, the cost is $460. Tent campers are charged $20 per night or $120 a week. The new higher rates will be up to Mr. Abatelli.

If you’re planning to vote in the March 15 village election but aren’t yet registered, you can sign up in the conference room at Village Hall on either Thursday, March 3, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., or Saturday, March 5, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Voting will take place Tuesday, March 15, at the Third Street firehouse between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8, to file nominating petitions. As of early this week, Mayor Nyce is running unopposed for a second term and four candidates are vying for two trustee seats. They are current trustees Michael Osinski and George Hubbard Jr., former trustee Bill Swiskey and Historic Preservation Commission chairman David Murray.

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