Town Hall Notes: New panel to mull how to keep local economy strong

Town officials are planning this month to unveil a new economic advisory council to examine the long-term needs of Southold’s business community.

Creating the committee was one key recommendation in the economic chapter of the town’s comprehensive plan currently in the works.

Supervisor Scott Russell said this week that the group will comprise five to seven members from the chambers of commerce and other business organizations, as well as representatives of the North Fork Promotional Council and the agricultural community.
The Town Board will spend this month drafting a set of goals for the committee, which will be charged with envisioning what the business community needs to stay vibrant over the next 15 to 20 years, he said. The goal is to have the new panel up and running within a month.

“We want people who show up and put in the work,” he said.

Mr. Russell said the new committee is just one of many recommendations in the comprehensive plan that may be implemented before the plan is completed in 2013.

“Some ideas shouldn’t wait,” he said. “The economic advisory council is a good example. Decisions need to be made every day, and we’d like to move on them earlier rather than later.”

The town will hold its next meeting on the latest chapter of the comprehensive plan at 7 p.m. tonight, July 14, at the Human Resource Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck. The chapter addresses community character.


A recommendation in a recent planning study of the Mattituck corridor, allowing limited retail in light industrial areas, may also be implemented soon.

Mr. Russell said the Town Board plans to draft a new local law for public comment by the end of summer.
The idea is to breathe new life into the large number of vacant light industrial buildings surrounding the Long Island Rail Road tracks on Westphalia and Wickham avenues, Love Lane and Pike Street. The buildings’ owners have had difficulty finding tenants in recent years due to the fact that retail is not allowed.

“We want to locate businesses in existing buildings,” said the supervisor. “That would be a good thing. It would produce jobs.”


Southold recently got some good news when going out to bond on $13 million for land preservation and debt refinancing. The town had expected to pay 5 percent interest on $10 million to be bonded for land preservation and another $3 million in debt refinancing.

But Moody’s Investment Service rated the town’s credit at Aa2, the second highest bond rating there is, allowing the town to pay just 3.5 percent interest.

Mr. Russell estimated that the town’s good credit rating will save $2.1 million in interest over the life of the loans, which will be paid off in 2030.

“That’s the lowest rate since I’ve been supervisor,” he said, adding that the economic downturn, in conjunction with the town’s recent fiscal responsibility, has been responsible for the super-low interest rates.

“Bad markets have silver linings sometimes,” he said.

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