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Updated: 3/25/2010 - 4:20 AM



Greenport targets building inspector, administrator
Charges they're failing to keep Village Board members informed
  7 comments below

Greenport building inspector Eileen Wingate and village administrator David Abatelli came under fire at Monday night's Village Board work session.

Board members charged Ms. Wingate with failing to provide thorough and specific reports and Mr. Abatelli with failing to inform them of code violations.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips requested that Ms. Wingate's job description be rewritten and wanted the building inspector's working space be moved to a seat where the public wouldn't be able to interrupt her, as they can now in the trailer behind Village Hall.

"It's time to stop the round robin," a chain of interested parties coming in to bend her ear. "It's time to come up with a plan of action," Ms. Phillips said.

Board members complained, not for the first time, about Ms. Wingate's written reports, which they described as lacking specifics.

In several cases, Ms. Wingate said in a later interview that she had asked Village Board members to tell her how to proceed with specific reports, but they never responded.

'Without direction, I can't anticipate what they want.' Greenport building inspector Eileen Wingate
"Without direction, I can't anticipate what they want," she said. "I treat everybody the same."

Ms. Phillips' remarks came after a complaint from resident John Saladino about what he perceived as inconsistent code enforcement in the village and a charge from Trustee Chris Kempner that Mr. Abatelli was failing to provide sufficient information to board members about situations handled by the building department and code enforcement officers.

Ms. Kempner said she sees a lack of consistency in enforcing village codes and charged that personal relationships between code enforcement officers and the owners of properties in both commercial and residential districts are a factor.

Ms. Kempner blamed Mr. Abatelli for failing to inform board members about a recent incident that she said involved the eviction of tenants from a house across from Village Hall at 239 Third St. The village didn't evict the tenants, Mr. Abatelli said, as Ms. Kempner had suggested. He explained that there had been a puff-back at the house and he was called in by the fire department to deal with a lack of heat and smoke detectors in the building.

Ray Dickhoff, owner of the property, brought in workers to fix the furnace and install batteries in smoke detectors, but there are still furnace problems, Mr. Abatelli said.

To maintain the property as habitable, Mr. Dickhoff was ordered to make additional repairs, but he balked and told his tenants to leave, Ms. Wingate said. Village code enforcement officer Linda Ortiz, who speaks Spanish, informed the Latino tenants they have rights and didn't have to accept eviction, Mr. Abatelli said.

Mr. Dickhoff denied that scenario but refused further comment.

"What I saw was deplorable," Ms. Wingate said about the property. She said she was glad the tenants had left because "it was an accident waiting to happen."

She said Mr. Dickhoff had complained to her that the tenants had failed to maintain the property.

"You can't rent to 27 Guatemalans and expect them to take care of your property," Ms. Wingate said. "The house is a gut rehab," she said.

jlane@timesreview.com

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7 comments found

Comment from Mayor Nyce of the V of G : 3/19/2010
Please be advised that the Village of Greenport wishes to express its regret for the comments made by the Building Inspector in the 3/18/2010 issue of "The Suffolk Times" article entitled "Criticism for 2 Local Officials". We had no knowledge that these comments were being made, and further, the comments were not those of the Village of Greenport. We are taking corrective actions in regard to this matter.
- Mayor David Nyce, the Village of Greenport




27 unrelated people in a single family dwelling? : 3/18/2010
"What I saw was deplorable," Ms. Wingate said about the property. She said she was glad the tenants had left because "it was an accident waiting to happen." ?????????????
Many complaints have been made to the Village regarding an illegal rooming house directly across the street from Village Hall and nothing was done. Perhaps if she had inspected sooner? We are lucky there was no tragedy for the Village would be as culpable as the landlord.
Oh, the inference that 27 Guatamalans would not take care of their home is a rather racist remark for a public servant to make, no?




direction : 3/18/2010
the Village Code is very specific as to what her monthly reports shouldcontain - can she read?




Actual vs. Perceived. : 3/18/2010
Just to clarify, my question to the Village board about code enforcement was in direct response to a ST article that stated, there is at least thirty currant code violations pertaining to signage, and a contractors refusal to abide by a HPC ruling about windows. I fail to see how if a published article is assumed to be factual, how by quoting it can it be considered as to be "perceived" by someone who quotes it?




true conflict : 3/18/2010
Perhaps a trustee should have disclosed a relationship with Mr. Dickoff and a project call
"Summerwind" in Riverhead.

Riverhead aquarium owners seek extension to lucrative tax-break deal
Downtown apartment developers also seek exemptions
BY TIM GANNON |STAFF WRITER 17 comments below
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO
Visitors make their way to Atlantis Marine World, whose owners are seeking to have its tax exemption extended another 10 years.
Atlantis Marine World is seeking another decade of property tax abatements from Riverhead Town in conjunction with the new 100-room Hyatt Place hotel it plans to build next to its East Main Street aquarium.
Summerwind, a 53-unit rental and retail complex proposed for Peconic Avenue, is also seeking the same 10-year property tax abatement.
The two projects could receive exemptions on mortgage recording tax and on sales tax on materials used in construction of the projects.
Atlantis has received a 100 percent property tax abatement on town, county, school and fire district taxes for 10 years under an agreement the town Industrial Development Agency made more than 10 years ago when the town was trying to lure Atlantis to downtown Riverhead.
The standard IDA property tax exemption for a nonindustrial project would start at 50 percent and decrease by five percent a year for 10 years, but Atlantis qualified for the full exemption because it is located in an economically distressed area, officials said.
That abatement expires at the end of this year, and Atlantis appeared before the IDA Monday seeking to extend those same abatements another decade.
'It became obvious that our guests came to our aquarium and then they went home.' Joe Petrocelli, Atlantis Marine WorldAtlantis co-owner Jim Bissett said that while his attraction has been a success, the failure of the rest of downtown Riverhead to blossom has made it difficult for Atlantis to draw visitors. Mr. Bissett said he believes the hotel, which would include about 30,000 square feet of new exhibit space, conference space and a banquet center, will help bring more people to the rest of downtown.
"The original studies said we'd draw 600,000 to 900,000 people a year," he said. "We have not hit half of that yet."
Joe Petrocelli, another co-owner of the aquarium, said that while they originally envisioned the aquarium drawing people to downtown, "it became obvious that our guests came to our aquarium and then they went home."
Atlantis general manager Bryan DeLuca said the reason aquariums in places like Baltimore and Mystic, Conn., draw more than a million people per year is because they've created a destination for their downtowns, and visitors can go to other places after they visit the aquarium.
Mr. Bissett and Mr. Petrocelli said that the vacancy rate in downtown was about 30 percent when they opened the aquarium in 2000 and now hovers at 70 percent. They said that as the vacancies grew, it became harder and harder to draw people to the aquarium.
"This is a concern for us and a concern for the people financing this project," Mr. Bissett said. "We need the assistance of this board."
He said the prior exemptions allowed Atlantis to expand every year.
Atlantis still pays taxes to the sewer, parking, lighting, ambulance and business improvement taxing districts, and their tax bill this year came to $125,895, according to town records. Without the IDA exemption, the full tax bill on the aquarium would have been $502,594, according to tax receiver Maryann Heilbrunn.
However, Atlantis also makes a payment in lieu of taxes to the IDA based on the value of what was there before they built the hotel. That payment is around $30,000 per year and gets distributed to the town, county and school district.
Councilman Jim Wooten, the only speaker expressing an opinion on the proposed exemptions at Monday's hearing, said he would "give Jim Bissett the shirt off my back," but cautioned, "there has to come a time when abatements have to be weighed against public benefit."
Summerwind is also seeking a 10-year property tax abatement on town, school, county and fire district taxes, and like Atlantis, representatives claim in their application that "the project is considered to be extremely significant and vital to the economic health and well being of the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County and the Long Island Region."
Summerwind, which would include affordable or "workforce" apartments on its top three floors and retail stores and restaurant on the ground floor, would also be located in what is considered an economically distressed area. And as such, it could qualify for the greater exemptions.
Developer Ray Dickhoff, who along with Marty Sendlewski and Riverhead Councilwoman-elect Jodi Giglio, is the applicant on Summerwind, said that several dormant and decaying buildings will be razed in order to build a four-story building
"The goal is to revitalize Main Street by providing affordable living space" and "adding much needed foot traffic," Mr. Dickhoff said.




HOUSIG INSPECTIONS : 3/18/2010
here's a thought- what about all the abuses of section 8 housing? why does Linda Ortiz not care about that?




Who Knows : 3/18/2010
So the Village Board wants to know what is going on.
So do the villagers!
When is Greenport Village going to take www.thevillageofgreenport.org
seriously?





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