If you’ve been paying attention during Northport Village board meetings, you will have heard about “the fence” along Cherry Street, just off Fort Salonga Road, that begins on the Northport Fish & Lobster Co. property. Since last month’s meeting, when Trustee Dave Weber was asked about the fence and its cost, there have been a handful of letters to the editor printed in The Observer that seem to be using the wooden structure to make readers question Trustee Weber’s intentions and transparency, on the cusp of a Village election.
When asked about the fence, Trustee Weber explained to the Journal that a curb cut was being added to the east side of the fish market, along Cherry Street. At some point in years past, the Village installed curbing in front of the property to the north, according to Trustee Weber. The Village decided that this curb should be continued along the west side of Cherry Street to allow for water runoff down the street and onto 25A, where it is collected in a catch basin. The newest curb cut would complete the area, while resolving other issues pertaining to the fish market, too, said Weber.
“This has been a property of great concern to many residents,” the trustee added, explaining that the market manager, Sam Luby, would often cut through the side of the property with his vehicle in order to drive around the building.
In order to install the curb cut, the existing fence on the property had to be temporarily removed, and then reinstalled. “All fencing, poles and fastening materials were on site and re-used by construction crews. At no time did the Village of Northport have to purchase any materials for this job,” Trustee Weber said.
He added, “I understand residents are concerned and frustrated by this property owner and Village officials have been doing everything within their control to get them into compliance. By eliminating the ability for this property to be used as a cut-through around the back, the noise and disruption to neighboring houses and residents has been reduced drastically.”
According to Trustee Weber, and verified by Village Administrator Roland Buzard at the January 4 board meeting, all costs associated with this job have been requested to be reimbursed by the NYS Department of Transportation CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) funds, thereby costing residents nothing from the Village budget.
Some Village residents seem displeased that Trustee Weber did not have the cost information available when asked about the curb and fence at the December 21 board meeting. When residents Blair Beaudet and Josephine Rizzuto asked about the cost,Trustee Weber said that he’d get the exact figures from Mr. Buzard, but that they were putting the existing fence back in place and the entire project was expected to be covered by CHIPS.
Other residents don’t think the Village should be spending any money (whether they are reimbursed or not) on remediating fish market-related issues. And to this, Trustee Weber explained that the curb cut wasn’t done for the fish market, specifically, but to finish an existing and incomplete project.
The fish market has been a recurring topic at Village meetings, brought up often by Cherry Street resident Joe Sabia (who is running for Village Trustee in the upcoming election). He has, on several occasions, complained about trucks and trailers driving into the back of the property and disrupting residents, sometimes in the middle of the night or very early in the morning. He has also noted his frustration with the appearance of the fish market, including the side and back of the property, as have other Cherry Street residents. Sabia has called the Village Police Department on several occasions, and the mayor has made several visits to the property, as have the village administrator and fire marshall.
Below is a breakdown of the total costs for the curb cut and reinstalled fence, which has been requested for reimbursement:
Traffic protection: $750
Shoulder prep: $1000
Shoulder prep – remove/replace fencing: $800
Shoulder grading: $750
Saw cut asphalt: $720
Cast in place concrete curb: $3,800
Total request for reimbursement through CHIPS: $9,206.40