06/25/14 12:00pm
06/25/2014 12:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Greenport village administrator David Abatelli at a menorah lighting in Greenport last year.

Greenport village administrator David Abatelli at a menorah lighting in Greenport in 2012. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder file)

Trustees and colleagues said goodbye to now-former Greenport village administrator David Abatelli, who attended his last Village Board meeting as a village employee Monday after announcing his retirement last year.  (more…)

02/11/14 8:00am
02/11/2014 8:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, right, at a Village Board meeting in February 2012.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, right, at a Village Board meeting in February 2012.

One of two candidates being considered for the Greenport Village administrator job was dismissed from a similar position in Nassau County, according to minutes from a meeting last summer.
(more…)

12/16/13 9:10pm
12/16/2013 9:10 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Greenport village administrator David Abatelli at a menorah lighting in Greenport last year.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Greenport village administrator David Abatelli at a menorah lighting in Greenport last year.

Greenport village administrator David Abatelli is retiring from his longtime position within the next year and Mayor David Nyce is looking to hire his replacement as soon as possible.

During the closing moments of the Village Board work session Monday, the mayor announced that Mr. Abatelli would be stepping down from his appointed position within the next year.

“Dave has been a great asset to this village,” Mr. Nyce said after the meeting. “He has spent a lot of years at the village and we greatly appreciate his service, but he is not going anywhere yet.”

Mr. Nyce said he plans to advertise the position immediately in order for Mr. Abatelli to train the new administrator as long as possible, while he is still on the job.

Unlike Mr. Abatelli, the new administrator will also be responsible for overseeing Greenport’s utilities department, which includes the village’s sewer district, electric plant and roads. Mr. Nyce said the restructuring eliminates the need to replace former utilities department director Jack Naylor, who resigned in September with an $80,000 exit package after being placed on administrative leave a month earlier.

Since Mr. Naylor’s departure, all three of the respective department heads have been overseeing day-to-day operations and reporting directly to the mayor, Mr. Abatelli, Village Clark Sylvia Pirillo and Village Treasurer Charlene Kagel, Mr. Nyce said.

Mr. Abatelli, who has been employed by the village for more than 25 years, declined to comment after the meeting, simply stating “I’m not going anywhere yet.”

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11/28/13 5:00pm
11/28/2013 5:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum to leave the railroad dock in Greenport.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum to leave the railroad dock in Greenport.

When the fireboat Fire Fighter docked in Greenport this past February it was hoped that it could become a permanent fixture in the maritime community — a floating museum where youngsters could learn about the vessel’s rich history battling fires in New York City.

But less than 10 months later, the former FDNY ship appears headed back toward New York City.

The Village of Greenport received a letter from the county attorney’s office late last month stating that the decommissioned fireboat turned nonprofit museum would need to vacate the railroad dock within three weeks, or the county would take further action.

Suffolk County officials say they are now pursuing “all means available” to remove the ship from its mooring at the county-owned railroad dock. The ultimatum comes several months after a group of local fishermen and other village residents complained to village officials that the railroad dock is intended exclusively for commercial fishing purposes and therefore should not host Fire Fighter.

With time running out to remove the boat from the railroad dock, Fire Fighter museum president Charlie Ritchie is scrambling to find another deepwater dock to moor the 134-foot vessel.

“We were looking to private mooring in Sterling Harbor, but it doesn’t look like that is going to work,” he said. “Now we’re looking closer to New York City. We just know we have to get out as soon as possible.”

Mr. Ritchie said the move alone could cost the nonprofit more than $800 in fuel costs and would set back the restoration of the ship.

The Greenport Village Board had voted to move the historic boat to the railroad dock when the contract to dock the vessel at Mitchell Park Marina expired in June. But in its letter last month, the county said it never signed off on the move.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the presence of the boat at the railroad dock has created a potential liability for the county.

“If it damages the dock it’s hard to say what would happen,” Mr. Krupski said. “If it sinks, it could damage the oyster beds there. The dock was intended to be used by commercial fishermen and they could be displaced with the fireboat there.”

While the Village of Greenport leases the railroad dock from the county for a token fee of $1 per year, the county has the right to refuse any sublease agreement the village enters into regarding the dock.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce told the public in June that he wanted the village to end the lease agreement for the dock — saying it has caused nothing but “headaches.”

The village began renting the dock in 1982 in hopes of enticing additional fishing boats to tie up there. Instead, Mr. Nyce said, the dock has become a “liability” for the village and hasn’t produced a significant revenue stream.

Village administrator David Abatelli said that although three weeks have passed since the county informed the village of the need to move the boat, there’s not much that can be done to take immediate action.

“All the county said was they were going to take further action,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to come with a tug boat to move it.”

Suffolk County attorney Dennis Brown said Monday that he can’t comment on the matter, nor could he say what action the county might take to move the fireboat.

Mr. Ritchie said his priority now is to continue to work with the village and the county to come to an amicable solution.

“It’s a shame; we thought we’d have a long relationship with the village,” Mr. Ritchie said. “The board, the village administrator and the mayor have all been good to us. And I can honestly say not one of our visitors has ever said a negative thing about the boat.”

Fire Fighter was christened in 1938 and was used to fight fires along the New York City waterfront for more than 70 years before being retired in 2010.

The vessel spent two years at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before being transferred to the museum in October 2012. It’s the third-oldest fireboat in the country and the fifth oldest in the world, according to the museum.

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11/18/13 1:58pm
11/18/2013 1:58 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport Planning Board chair Linnea Atkinson-Loveless (center) is stepping down from the position.

A little more than a year after first being appointed to the Greenport Planning Board, chairperson Linnea Atkinson-Loveless is resigning from the position.

Ms. Loveless, who joined the board in September 2012, said that she was vacating the position after making the decision to sell her home and move out of Greenport. She said the village was aware of her intentions when she was given the job.

“When they took me on last year I told them I could only serve for about a year because I am selling my home,” Ms. Loveless said.

Currently the village does not have a candidate in mind to fill the remaining four years of Ms. Loveless’ term, Village Administrator David Abatelli said in a phone interview Monday.

Planning Board members are now charged with appointing a new chairperson, Mr. Abatelli said. Traditionally the board member with the most years service becomes chairperson, however since all the members were appointed at the same time last year it is unclear who will become chair. Other members include Pat Mundus, Peter Jaquet, Devin McMahon, and Ben Burns.

“We’re always saddened to see people leave the board especially people that are hard working and passionate like Ms. Loveless,” Mr. Abatelli said.

The mayor is expected to make an appointment within the upcoming weeks, Mr. Abatelli said.

08/21/13 12:00pm
08/21/2013 12:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | The board hopes to lure mega yachts to Greenport Harbor with new electrical upgrades at Mitchell Park Marina.

Electrical upgrades to the east pier at Mitchell Park Marina are complete, according to village administrator David Abatelli.

During Monday’s work session he told trustees the estimated $400,000 project was finished five months after the board first approved funding.

The upgrades are an effort to lure mega yachts to Greenport Harbor. Previously, Sag Harbor was the only port on the East End with deep enough water and a power supply to support the extended stay of most such vessels, Mayor David Nyce said during an earlier board meeting. He believes the investment will bring “a lot of money” to the village.

Mitchell Park Marina manger Jeff Goubeaud agreed.

“I have already got boats that want to plug in,” Mr. Goubeaud said Tuesday morning. “It’s been a long time coming, but I think it will create a boom for the village.”

The village paid for the work by floating bonds, with the expectation that some of the expense will be recovered through increased revenue from the rental of docks with upgraded electrical connections, Mr. Nyce said.

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08/08/13 5:59am
08/08/2013 5:59 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | A swastika painted on a ramp at the Greenport Skatepark remained visible three days after a Suffolk Times reporter alerted the Village to its presence.

In almost any village in America, phone calls from the local media alerting officials to a swastika spray-painted at a local park would be cause for immediate action.

Apparently that’s not the case in Greenport.

Five days after a Suffolk Times reporter informed Mayor David Nyce and village administrator David Abatelli of the hate graffiti at the Greenport Skate Park on Moore’s Lane, we returned to find the symbol still visible. Yes, five days later, as this issue was published, the swastika remained.

No report appeared in this week’s Southold Town police blotter, either.

When we first contacted Mr. Nyce, he returned our call with a phone message indicating village employees would remove the paint. We’re still waiting.

Reporter Cyndi Murray’s cover story about the problems facing the skate park reveals a major flaw in the way the facility is managed. Mr. Abatelli points out in the story that the park opened 15 years ago with no maintenance plan in place. While community members have launched ambitious campaigns in the past to clean up the park, no major improvements have ever taken place.

But if one statement in the story echoes the village’s current attitude toward the park, it’s this one from Mr. Abatelli: “The kids are lucky it’s still there,” he said.

It’s a statement you wouldn’t expect from a leader in a community where residents speak so often of their hometown pride.

The Village needs to hammer out a plan for the long-term maintenance of the skate park. This proud community should demand as much.

UPDATE: Village workers were at the park at 9 a.m. Thursday painting over the portion of the ramp where the swastika was painted.

Skate ramp painted in Greenport

05/31/13 10:25am
05/31/2013 10:25 AM

Greenport Village Hall.

Greenport’s Section 8 housing program is stretched to its limit, prompting the village to take a close look at who receives rental subsidy assistance, according to village administrator David Abatelli.

The Section 8 program offers federal rent subsidies for moderate- and low-income residents. Eligibility and amount are based on annual gross income and family size. The housing benefits are opened-ended, allowing individuals and families to stay on Section 8 indefinitely so long as they meet federal standards.

Eighty Greenport families currently receive Section 8 subsidies. By next year, five will be cut from the program, Mr. Abatelli said.

To better understand how the funding is distributed, the village plans to list program participants in three categories: retirees, the disabled and low-income working families. Officials said the analysis is the local response to a nationwide problem.

In March, sweeping federal budget cuts known as the sequester dealt a large financial blow to the Section 8 program, operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal law limits the program to U.S. citizens, but some non-citizens with immigration status are eligible, including agriculture workers who have been granted lawful temporary resident status and those with refugee or asylum status.

Sequestration reduced the amount of support for affordable rental housing by roughly 5 percent, according to HUD. The department estimates 125,000 recipients nationwide will totally lose their assistance as a result of the cuts.

Local public housing agencies such as the village have been authorized to take steps to address budget shortfalls, according to HUD. Those steps include holding back new vouchers and tightening eligibility standards.

As a precautionary measure, the village is no longer accepting Section 8 applications, Mr. Abatelli said.

Instead of abandoning people cut from Greenport’s program, the village may consider transferring some recipients to neighboring communities whose Section 8 housing programs are less stressed, he said.

Greenport faces a unique set of challenges regarding Section 8 housing, including high rentals and factoring in payouts to seasonal workers who use the program during the off season.

Mr. Abatelli is to present the report to the Village Board later this summer.

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