Response to Supervisor Smyth’s Open Letter to Governor Hochul
Among the many lessons from the George Santos saga is that a politician’s words should be closely scrutinized for accuracy. In that vein, I offer my comments on the accuracy (and hypocrisy) of Supervisor Ed Smyth’s letter in response to Governor Hochul’s housing proposal. Smyth continues to perpetuate two myths: Huntington cannot sustain more housing and Huntington has already built enough housing. In defending the Town, Smyth ironically points to the numerous achievements that he and his current and former Republican colleagues have opposed and/or actively worked against. Smyth proudly points to Matinecock Court and several other projects as sterling examples of 20% affordable housing set-asides that are helping to diversify our housing stock.
First, Matinecock Court is not a 20% affordable project, it is a 100% affordable project and is in no way a set-aside where 80% of the units are sold at market rates. Second, Smyth tried to kill Matinecock Court by lobbying Suffolk County to reject its sewer funding and approvals and voting against the most recent settlement agreement that allowed it to go forward as a limited equity coop.
Next, Smyth proudly points to the phenomenon of apartments above-ground-floor commercial spaces but has done all that he can, including passing legislation to make this type of housing all but impossible to build in Huntington Village. Smyth then touts the hundreds of apartments near the Huntington Railroad Station. No mention of the fact that he publicly condemned the funding mechanisms that allowed these projects, including most notably Gateway Plaza, to go forward.
Smyth then cites the thousands of legal accessory apartments that are the product of a code change adopted over 30 years ago by the Town Board. No mention from Smyth, however, of his recent vocal opposition to changing this law allow for more accessory apartments, a change supported by his Republican colleagues, Councilmen Sal Ferro and Dave Bennardo, and Democratic Councilwoman Joan Cergol.
Smyth cites a litany of reasons why our local infrastructure cannot support more housing, including that the last landfill on Long Island is set to close soon. Seriously? The Town of Huntington incinerates its garbage, it does not send it to the landfill.
Next, are the boogeymen of drinking water contaminated by 1.4 Dioxane and stormwater
run-off. Both unto themselves are significant environmental issues but we need to recognize that the bulk of stormwater run-off comes from the existing roads and houses along the Long Island Sound and that 1.4 Dioxane has made its way into our drinking water largely from industrial solvent spills and not housing developments.
Last in the line of Smyth’s doozies is the statement that “there is no such thing as
development [in Huntington], only redevelopment.” The implication is that vacant land is not being developed, but rather only land with structures or uses already on them. Wrong! The Preserve at Indian Hills and the Seasons at Elwood are just a few recent “developments” approved by the Town.
Gov. Hochul’s housing proposal should absolutely be scrutinized. While local impacts must be a part of this discussion, Smyth’s open letter to the Governor is riddled with inaccuracies and false claims. Smyth is touting a glowing record on housing when he has
consistently and publicly opposed common-sense housing solutions.
It’s no surprise that Smyth’s political signs with the slogan “Stop Overdevelopment” still dot the landscape in the Town. His agenda has been and remains to stop all reasonable development, especially when it includes affordable housing.
Former Huntington Councilman Mark A Cuthbertson, chairman of Huntington Town Democratic Committee, challenges Supervisor Ed Smyth on his housing response.