Should Greenport Village inspect rental housing? One Village Board member thinks so.
Trustee David Murray this week voiced concern that there are overcrowded houses in Greenport where unsafe conditions exist. He’s calling on the village code committee to consider the required legislation.
It’s a subject that has been on Mayor David Nyce’s agenda for a while, but has been on hold. There’s a need to balance property owners’ rights with the need to assure safe housing, the mayor said.
“It’s been a complicated issue,” he added.
The issue arose during Monday’s Village Board work session.
Before implementing such a law, the building department’s responsibilities need to be re-examined, Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said. Adding more work to a department that’s unable to keep up with its current load isn’t effective, she said.
Building inspectors should be authorized to do such inspections on at least an annual basis, Mr. Murray said.
The code committee will take up neighbors’ complaints about parking issues and disturbances resulting from activities at Floyd Memorial Library on First and North streets.
Parking on the block has plagued the neighbors but, according to Ms. Phillips, it’s the “tip of the iceberg.” Because the library serves not only Greenporters, but residents of East Marion and Orient and summer visitors as well, those who live in the area have been burdened by increased activities at the library.
“It’s a great asset,” Ms. Phillips said of the library. But the interests of the neighbors need to be addressed, she said.
The committee will also discuss the legality of opening household garbage that’s discarded in and around village and commercial receptacles to identify those who dumped it and possibly cite them for the offense.
WHERE’S THE SMOKE?
Smoke testing to identify breaks and defects in the Greenport Village sewer system was announced well in advance and residents even received fliers at their homes. But those who tried to heed advice by preparing for the tests and reporting problems hit a brick wall Monday when no one at Village Hall could tell them when the testing would occur on their streets.
That rankled Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, who said her own bouts with asthma had her concerned about where the work was being done, but no one could tell her where the crew was.
That was to be remedied by Tuesday, when utilities chief Jack Naylor was told to keep Village Hall workers informed every couple of hours about where the work crews were and where they would be heading next.
The smoke coming from vent stacks on houses or holes in the ground is not toxic and has no odor. But residents were being advised to pour a gallon of water into each floor drain prior to testing to prevent sewer gases from entering the building. They were also advised to let village officials know if anyone in the house suffers from respiratory illnesses or is immobile.
“If smoke enters your home, there is good reason to assume that dangerous sewer gases may also be entering your home or business,” the flier said. “You should evacuate immediately and notify our work crews” by calling 477-0248, ext. 219.
On Monday, crews completed the sections near San Simeon on Route 48 and on Manor Place by Eastern Long Island Hospital.
They were expected to work their way through the village toward downtown during the week.
Village officials are patting themselves on the back for effectively restoring electric service throughout most of Greenport within hours after Tropical Storm Irene blew through in August. But they’re not oblivious to shortcomings that need to be addressed before another storm, the mayor said.
He promised a “long, nasty letter to the Red Cross” for its failure to provide adequate supplies to the shelter that operated at Greenport School.
“I don’t think that we can rely on them out here,” the mayor said. While the Red Cross was operating in the Hamptons and other parts of Long Island, they told Supervisor Scott Russell that the North Fork had too many shelters.
Shelters throughout the town were based on geographic nearness to various communities, not on the numbers of people who might come to each shelter, Mr. Nyce said.
He said he wants to ensure before another storm occurs that supplies are available from the Red Cross, even if they send no personnel to help at the shelters.
The other problem identified was inadequate radio communication between the mayor, who was at the electric plant on Moore’s Lane, and Trustee George Hubbard, who was at the Third Street firehouse. Mr. Hubbard said he was getting inquiries from residents that he couldn’t answer effectively because he couldn’t reach the plant where activities were being coordinated.
There’s also a need to better identify people with special needs who might have to be evacuated ahead a storm. Mr. Hubbard has been working to compile such a list, but said there are still people who haven’t made their needs known.