With the swearing-in of a new mayor and two new trustees in Greenport this week, the time is right for village government to establish a clean slate with its residents.
To do so, the board should take steps to invite the public back into the fold and, in turn, decrease the confrontational atmosphere that has persisted in the village. If board members and residents can learn to trust one another, and put some pettiness aside, great things could be in store for Greenport.
To get things started, The Suffolk Times offers five suggestions.
• There’s probably no better indication of a local government’s health, or lack thereof, than the condition of its roadways. Greenport’s are abysmal, and were only made the worse by this year’s harsh winter. What the poor roads tells us is that, at some point, the village government took its focus off what really matters to people and put it elsewhere. Fix the roads.
• Ask five different Greenport officials, get five different answers. This became the norm when it came to trying to figure out what was going on — or more accurately, what was going wrong — with the village’s prolonged power plant upgrades. Mayor George Hubbard should call a public informational forum and invite residents to listen and ask questions — and the board should provide straightforward and accurate answers.
• Stop requiring Freedom of Information Law requests for basic information. Southold Town is extremely good about posting valuable governmental forms on its website for public consumption, including agendas, meeting minutes and land-use applications, among other items. Short of doing the same, such documents should be easy to obtain upon a visit to Village Hall.
• Mayor Hubbard faces a tough task in trying to restore order to village meetings. On the one hand, shutting public comment down and threatening to call police is unacceptable. However, letting residents filibuster at meetings or otherwise interfere with good government and order should not be tolerated. Restoring civility to meetings is a big undertaking, but it is an important one to pursue.
• Last year, the Village Board placed a moratorium on granting mass assembly permits for Mitchell Park, but Memorial Day isn’t far off and the village has yet to craft a policy. That leaves little time for the planning of events in the park. It’s hard to imagine why this should be so difficult; just find out how other villages and towns handle their parks and pick a policy that makes the most sense, and do it soon.