Greenport Village Board blasts utility director over time needed to finish upgrades

Greenport utilities director Jack Naylor took it on the chin Monday as Village Board members criticized his handling of work on upgrades to the waste water treatment system and electric plant.

That weather has been responsible for many work delays on the waste water plant isn’t what concerned Mayor David Nyce and Trustees Mary Bess Phillips and Chris Kempner. They want to know why Mr. Naylor doesn’t yet have an agreed-upon time line that clearly states when the work is expected to be completed.

Mr. Naylor’s original time line called for completion by Sept. 20, but that date has now slipped to January 2012, he said during the Village Board’s work session. But he does not have an agreement with the Cameron Engineering and Philip Ross Engineers that reflects the change. He did say that the original contract reflects fines that could be assessed at $750 per day for failure to complete the project on time. But such fines wouldn’t come into play for days when weather delayed work, he said.

Ms. Kempner fears any additional delays could jeopardize the funding agreement with the state Environmental Facilities Corporation that administers the more than $4 million federal stimulus grant that was awarded to the village for the upgrade to the waste water treatment plant. The agreement with the EFC was that the $9 million project would be completed by  March 2012. But Mr. Naylor said he has never seen such funding revoked or cut because a project ran beyond the agreement date.

As for work on upgrading the electric plant, Mr. Nyce and Ms. Phillips have been critical of delays in putting out requests for proposals. The latest delay was in getting an RFP out for an engineer to monitor progress on the project.

“To be fair, I’ve been asking for this for six months,” the mayor said. Mr. Naylor indicated that he thought Genesys could handle the job. Genesys is the company that developed the work plan.

Genesys may yet be chosen to monitor the project, Mr. Nyce said. But in keeping with the state comptroller’s report recommendations that the village broaden it search for companies involved in major projects, the  mayor said it’s appropriate to seek other bidders.

Ms. Phillips said she was disappointed that an RFP for a construction engineer hadn’t gone out yet after she and the mayor have been calling for action for several months.

Mr. Naylor said he can get an RFP out quickly, but that it would take at least a month for bidders to respond. That was unacceptable to the mayor and Ms. Phillips.

“I don’t want to see a delay; we need to have done this yesterday,” Mr. Nyce said.

“Priorities need to be put in order,” Ms. Phillips said. “It’s time you start letting your staff help you get things done. It’s not a criticism; I’m just putting it on the table.”

Festival moving to the park?
Representatives of Greenport’s Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarhis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church want to move their annual summer festival from church grounds on Main Street to Mitchell Park. They’re requesting use of the park on July 16 and 17.
The request came after last year’s festival drew criticism from neighbors. Ms. Phillips suggested then that the event had outgrown the church site. She expressed concerns both about the safety of people standing in the street where traffic can be heavy on a summer weekend and about music at night that was disturbing to neighbors.

“We’re kind of limited with room there,” church president Gary Scibehhi admitted to the board Monday night. “It would help the church tremendously financially” to move to Mitchell Park to benefit from the downtown foot traffic, he said.

“I like the idea,” Mr. Nyce said, while cautioning that no alcohol could be served and that he would want to assure that the festival maintains its Greek flavor and doesn’t evolve into just another street fair. He also doesn’t want festival vendors to sell items that would put them in competition with local merchants.

Mr. Scibehhi said they would propose to sell soda and bottled water, Greek gyros, hotdogs and hamburgers. He also said they would like to be able to have a couple of children’s rides set up in the park and maybe some gambling. The gambling is another aspect that could be prohibited in the park, the mayor said, asking village attorney Joseph Prokop to check the legality.

Organizers would comply with whatever the village requests, Mr. Scibehhi said.

Noting that she “took a shellacking” last summer when she suggested moving the festival, Ms. Phillips said she’s pleased that the organizers recognized the problems and sought an alternative venue.

A decision could be made at Monday night’s Village Board meeting.

Parking meters
To control parking in downtown during busy summer months, the Village Board is looking at bringing back parking meters and hiring a traffic officer to enforce parking limits posted for two hours or 30 minutes in various parts of the downtown area. The traffic officer would also be issuing tickets to those who illegally park in spaces intended for handicapped individuals or at fire hydrants.

owntown parking was once regulated by meters, but they were removed during the administration of former mayor David Kapell to make the village more visitor-friendly.

No smoking
If you have been smoking within 50 feet of village-owned property — Village Hall, the Mitchell Park carousel, the Greenport Third Street Firehouse and other sites — you’ve been breaking state and county laws. Ms. Kempner and Ms. Phillips want those laws upheld. Ms. Kempner also wants a public hearing on her proposal to ban smoking around Greenport parks, playgrounds and beaches.

She said she would like a more extensive ban, but realizes that could take longer to enact. She said a smoking ban for places where there are young children would be a start most would endorse.

On a recent visit to the Third Street playground, she observed two young fathers smoking cigarettes and said they probably didn’t think about the harm the smoke could be causing children. Posting no smoking signs would result in greater public awareness, she said. Next week the board is expected to set a date for a public hearing, despite Mr. Nyce’s objection.
The mayor said the board should not legislate “common sense courtesy” and such public behavior.

Interim help
With the resignation of deputy treasurer Rose Cagliuso at the end of this week, treasurer Charlene Kagel recommended that the Village Board allow her to hire an interim assistant to assure that work continues uninterrupted until a new deputy can be hired.
Ms. Kagel estimated the cost at between $600 and $700 and the Village Board is expected to approve the measure Monday night.

Boat show
The village is expected to hold a boat show at the marina on June 11 and 12 aimed at attracting boat traffic at a time when the marina gets little use.

Marina manager Jeff Goubeaud said last year he had only eight boats in mid-June. He estimates that a boat show involving boat dealers and vendors of marine-related products could attract as many as 50 boats.

“It seems like a no-brainer,” Mr. Nyce said. Again, a decision is expected Monday night.

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