We asked Gene Cook, an independent town councilman and candidate for Huntington supervisor, several questions about his views on town and other issues.
Q. What should the town do to solve the parking problem downtown? And IS there a parking problem?
A. Huntington Village has a parking problem; which the town had previously contracted a study to determine the best course of action. That being said, as supervisor, I would start the
recommendations of the studies and move the solutions forward while being fiscally responsible
to all taxpayers.
Q. Does Huntington need a $7 million dog shelter on Creek Road?
A. Anyone who knows me knows I have a love for dogs, so I support a shelter within the town; that being said, I voted against the $7 million bond for a new shelter as the cost is not only excessive at this time, but most likely not accurate as the cost of building supplies have skyrocketed since the pandemic. Also, a correct SEQRA review has not been done on the property, therefore making it illegal to proceed at this time.
The town can continue to utilize the current town shelter by addressing the issues and
revitalizing the shelter in a way that meets compliance mandates to care for the animals in the
shelter. It doesn’t seem fiscally responsible to build a new shelter to house 60 dogs when we have an average of 14 dogs currently in our shelter. We need to weigh the costs of the repairs needed at the current shelter, which I believe would cost well under a million dollars compared to the seven million dollar price tag for the new shelter.
Q. Is there something the town can do to make the beaches available to people beyond late August when college-age lifeguards return to school?
A. We need to look outside the box to encourage and recruit high school students that are at least 16 who can work weekends, along with local adults who are looking for a seasonal job, or local college students who have a flexible schedule. Educate people as to how to get certified as a lifeguard. We also need to address if there is a staffing issue, how we adjust scheduling to ensure the beaches that have larger attendance have lifeguards and to disseminate the information via the town website and social media so residents have notice if there are no li feguards at the beach they are planning to attend.
Q. What is the one thing you would fix about how town government is operating right now? As Supervisor, how will you select directors of departments or other appointments to ensure the best people are chosen?
A. Huntington taxpayers deserve a town hall that is run in a professional and effective manner, with management that is trained to get the job done. Our civil service employees are hard workers, that at times are not given the direction and support needed by management within the town. If elected Supervisor, I will have an email address available to anyone interested in submitting their resume for an appointed position within the town. I will post all available appointed positions within the community, on social media and on my transition website. If anyone knows my current staff you know that they are qualified for the positions that they hold, and as Supervisor I will vet all candidates to ensure that they are the most qualified for the position they are hired for.
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. If tenants and landlords are educated about the New York State Rental Assistance Program
(LRAP/ERAP) that Housing Help is assisting Huntington residents apply for, we can prevent
many evictions going to court when the moratorium expires. Education is the key as you can’t apply if you don’t know about these programs. Housing Help in Greenlawn is doing an excellent
job with this program and my office has referred residents who have housing insecurities due to
COVID for assistance.
Q. Should Huntington allow marijuana sales in town?
A. I believe Huntingtonians need to have a say on this manner. I have concerns about driving under the influence of marijuana as the technology isn’t there for field testing, and the health and safety of Huntington constituents is my top priority. But I understand that the other side of the issue is that people may leave the town to purchase marijuana and then drive to Huntington.
Q. When will the Conte center open and has it been scaled back significantly from its original plans?
A. Two years ago, a private citizen came to me who wanted to donate money to expedite the Conte center. I sent this individual to the town supervisor, and unfortunately the Supervisor did
absolutely nothing to move the project forward. When I become supervisor the Conte center will
be a priority of mine; with my years of experience in infrastructure and heavy highway
construction, I believe we will get it done very quickly as it is long overdue.
Q. What can the town do to support those who become addicted or need urgent services to prevent a fatal overdose?
A. The town has many services available to assist with addiction, but not everyone has been
educated that these services are available. Training for Narcan has been offered in the past, and
needs to be offered agai n, as this can prevent fatal overdoses. The great aspect is that anyone can take the training to save a life.
Q. This week’s fatal shooting on Murdock Street was the second such 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. I have spoken at various meet the candidates about a plan I brought to the current Supervisor, that would increase our code enforcement officers who would have dedicated patrols throughout Huntington that would be walked. It’s a proven fact that a person in uniform will deter some criminal activity, unfortunately it may not prevent all. I have spoken with the Inspector at the Second Precinct who is supportive of the program.
Q. Anything else you’d like to say?
A. As Supervisor I pledge to respect all taxpayers, residents and business owners, and to promise that you not only have a voice in your town, but that I would listen to what you have to say. Huntington deserves a town hall that is accessible, effective and professional, and I believe that comes from your Town Supervisor
Cook is running against fellow Town Councilman Ed Smyth and Rebecca Sanin to succeed outgoing supervisor Chad Lupinacci.