The Village News: Editorials


 
August 13, 2020

The Bellport Village Board Just Won’t Let Go

 

EditorialAfter writing my first Editorial regarding the reimbursement of rental fees to marina slip holders, I thought that would be the end of it. The slip holders weren’t able to use their slips because the Village contractor hadn’t finished work on the marina on time so the boaters couldn’t use their slips. It was such a clear case of right and wrong that I really thought the Village Board would issue partial refunds to the slip holders and that would be it. Well, with the exception of Trustee Mackin, the Village Board just won’t let go.

You can verify everything I’m about to say by watching the 15 minute video below of the Zoom Bellport Village Board work session held on Monday, August 10, 2020.

This year’s boating season for the slip holders at the Bellport Village Marina was to be 175 days long, from May 9th to October 31st. Because the contractor working on the marina didn’t complete the work on time, the slip holders lost 47 days of boating, from May 9th to June 25th. A loss of 26% of the season.

The 143 rental slips in the marina brought in approximately $232,000 this year so reimbursing the slip holders 26% for the lost portion of the season would mean a refund of about $60,000 to the group.

Mayor Fell’s argument is that the Village doesn’t give tennis players or golfers refunds if they can’t play for part of their seasons, so why should the Village give slip holders a refund? That sounds reasonable until you factor in why a golfer or tennis player couldn’t play for part of the season. They couldn’t play for personal reasons, illness, injury, moving out of the area, etc., not, because the Village wouldn’t let them play or didn’t have the tennis courts or the golf course ready for play on time.

Trustee Rosenberg was concerned about the effect giving the slip holders a refund would have on the Village’s budget. “It’s going to result in a tax increase and therefore fall on the Village as opposed to the slip holders.” Hey, the Village Board dug themselves this hole, why should the slip holders be expected to dig the Village Board out? Why isn’t the contractor who didn’t finish the work on the marina on time being held responsible?

Mayor Fell then complained about the lost revenue due to a Village Board’s decision that no guests would be allowed to ride the Village ferry from Memorial Day weekend to August 1st. Well, whose fault was that? The slip holders???

Another Village Board decision, the Village ferry didn’t operate until the July 4th weekend. Whose fault was that? The slip holders???

The Mayor claims the above isn’t the fault of the Village residents or the Village Board of Trustees. Whose fault is it? The slip holders???

The Mayor claims there will be a loss at the beach and on the ferry this year. But, he also says the Village is going to do well on Tennis and at the Golf Course. Why not use those surpluses to offset any loss on the marina slips? He said golf brought in about $100,000 in additional revenue and tennis brought in $6,000 to $8,000 in additional revenue. The Mayor has said that in past years, when the golf course wasn’t doing well, the Village residents bailed it out in the form of higher taxes. Why then can’t the golf course surplus now be used to make up for the slip rental shortfall?

This brings me to Trustee Mackin. At about 12 minutes into the 15 minute video, Trustee Mackin disagrees with the rest of the Board. “Everyone should get their refund in full. It’s not fair that they lost their season. It had nothing to do with the weather or anything like that. The contractor went over his deadline.” He went on to say that the refund to the slip holders is a totally separate subject and any new fees should have nothing to do with the refund and should be dealt with separately rather than the two being considered together. Any new fees should be run by the waterfront commission.

Mayor Fell then reminded the Board Members that the Waterfront Commission can only make recommendations to the Village Board. The Village Board can then do anything it wants either following the recommendations of the Commission or they can ignore the Commission’s recommendations.

Trustee Gagliano thought Trustee Mackin had brought up a “viable” point. Gagliano also suggested the idea of extending the use of the slips into November by the slip holders rather than giving them a refund. I’m afraid extending the boating season 47 days, until December 17th, is not quite the same thing as losing 47 days of boating in May and June. Of course if the Village Board does extend the season into December, Santa might make his rounds in a clam boat this year instead of a sleigh!

 

 


 

If you have a comment and would like to respond to any of the above, we'd be glad to consider printing your response. Please send your comments to larry@bellport.com. You can read the comments we receive on our Letters To The Editor page.

Sincerely,

Larry Sribnick

Larry Sribnick
Editor/Publisher, Bellport.com