Ed Smyth, a Republican member of Town Council, is running to succeed Chad Lupinacci as Huntington town supervisor.
Question: What should the town do to solve the parking problem in Huntington’s downtown? And IS there a parking problem?
A. There are several solutions to addressing the parking problem. The first, and most obvious is to build a parking garage. However, a garage is very expensive and still in the very early stages of planning and design. It is likely a year or more before one could be built even if the town had the funds to build it ($25,000,000.00+). A more immediate approach is to develop a public/private partnership with surrounding commercial property owners to include their parking lots in the Parking Passport system then sharing the revenue generated from their lots with them. The property owners would set the hours of availability and rates for their lots. Many small lots rather than one large one. Further, encouraging the use of mass transit and holding off on new apartment buildings would also keep parking demand in check.
Q. Does Huntington need a $7 million dog shelter on Creek Road?
A. Huntington needs a new dog shelter. The current facility is inadequate. I will only support a no-kill policy in our town, which means the shelter will require more services and features which add to the cost. The town has budgeted $7mm for a new state-of-the-art humane shelter which will serve the town for decades to come. Unfortunately, the cost of construction has grown tremendously over the past few years. The alternative is a less expensive facility which euthanizes stray dogs. I won’t support that.
Q. Is there someway to make the beaches available to people beyond late August when college-age lifeguards return to school?
A. The fact that our beaches remained open for as long as they did this summer is a testament to the directors of the Parks Department, Bill Musto and Walter Edwards. There was a shortage of lifeguards all summer long but they managed the schedule and made it work. Many of the lifeguard training programs were canceled last year so the usual source of lifeguards dried up. This was a well-documented statewide problem. There is a labor shortage in general and the Town is not immune from it. Knowing there was a shortage, the Town reached out to firefighters and retired police officers and other first responders early in the summer but none had the current requisite training. The problem was compounded at the end of the summer when we faced a COVID outbreak at one of the beaches requiring the 6 lifeguards to quarantine for 10 days, effectively ending their summer. With lifeguard training programs back up and running, and COVID cases diminishing, I do not anticipate the same challenges next summer.
Q. What is the one thing you would fix about how town government is operating right now?
A. Increase transparence by putting the resolutions and contracts online at least 10 days prior to voting on them, as I originally proposed. Currently its 6 days, it should be longer for greater public input.
Q. As supervisor, how would you select directors of departments or other appointments to ensure the best people are chosen?
A.There are always some who do not live up to their potential but overall the 60+ directors and appointees in the town are excellent. I am always on the lookout for top-tier talent and will continue to look within each department for new leaders.
Q. Do you think the town can expect a wave of residential or commercial evictions as moratoriums expire and cases end up in court?
A. It is certainly something we should be prepared for but with the local economy rebounding and state and federal financial assistance programs (PPP, EID loans) the impact should be manageable.
Q. Should Huntington allow marijuana sales in town?
A. Eventually. I am content to let the surrounding towns be the test for marijuana sales. We can see what works and what doesn’t and if the projected tax revenue lives up to the promise.
Q. When will the Conte center open and has it been scaled back significantly from its original plans?
A. The first set of plans that the town received came in $6,000,000.00 over budget, with a design that was not appropriate for the site. A new architect and engineering firm was hired to re-draw the plans and to convert he building to geo-thermal and solar energy.
Q. What can the town do to support those who become addicted or need urgent services to prevent a fatal overdose?
A. More NARCAN training and anti-drug education through our Department of Humans Services and community partners at family Service league, Tri-CYA and others.
Q. This week’s fatal shooting was the second in Huntington since mid-August. What are some of the things that the town can do to ensure that the residents of Huntington are safe?
A. Increased public safety patrols and working closely with SCPD. Often the biggest challenge is to gain legal access to a known problem house, even when the problems are obvious to the neighbors. We have implemented “piggyback” search warrants which allows Town code enforcement and fire marshals to enter a premises legally after the police have executed their own warrant.
Q. What else would you like to add?
A. Solid waste management (garbage) is the number one problem facing Huntington. The cost of garbage disposal could double over the next 3 years if we do not find a solution. I will work on this problem from Day One in office.