Shortly after the Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena concluded her State of the Town Address at the end of January, Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey filmed a response.
As the first Republican town supervisor in over 30 years, Supervisor DeSena and the town board started on uneasy terms leading to many public disagreements at town board meetings. Often the board is split between the Republican minority and the Democrat majority. While the board still disagrees from time to time, they have been able to collaborate for the benefit of the town. Councilwoman Lurvey’s response helps make the voices and actions of the Democrat board members heard.
“I applaud the Supervisor for setting another ambitious agenda for her administration’s next year in office,” said Councilwoman Lurvey.
In agreement with Supervisor DeSena’s speech, Councilwoman Lurvey acknowledged some of the town’s main focuses over the past year; such as improving infrastructure, protecting our local environment, enhancing services and programming, all while focusing on maintaining a AAA bond rating and preserving the town’s fiscal health.
Even when facing challenges such as storms and flooding, economic concerns, COVID-19 recovery needs and politics, the town board accomplished a lot. Councilwoman Lurvey went on to discuss some of the big accomplishments of her and hers colleagues from 2022. Below are some remarks Councilwoman Lurvey made about her colleagues.
Councilman Robert Troiano
• Helped secure nearly $2 million in funding to continue the redevelopment of the New Cassel community.
• Helped establish new programming at the “Yes We Can” Community Center that included youth STEM, leadership, nutrition, fitness, and sports programs.
• He has been instrumental in moving the renovation of Fuschillo Park out of the visioning phase, as work has been awarded for a new splash pad, the replacement of playground equipment, and the installation of an ADA compliant sitting area.
Councilman Peter Zuckerman
• Sponsored improvements at Clark Botanic Garden to ensure our parks are both safe and fun for our children.
• Responsible for enacting legislation that dedicates parking spaces for veterans at various parks throughout North Hempstead.
Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte
• Sponsored a bike-share program in Port Washington to promote eco-friendly transportation and allow residents and visitors to travel in an environmentally friendly manner throughout that wonderful community.
• Helped preserve North Hempstead’s rich history through renovations to the Monfort Cemetery.
• Supported the local business community by converting commuter spaces into metered parking within the Port Washington Parking District.
• Spearheaded the oyster restoration program in Manhasset Bay to improve its water quality.
Councilwoman Lurvey discussed some of her accomplishments in 2022 such as re-establishing the Town’s Tree Advisory Committee. She also sponsored legislation to repeal a section of the Town Code adopted in 1971 which purported to regulate where abortion procedures may take place in our town.
Like Supervisor DeSena, Councilwoman Lurvey discussed some of the many accomplishments the town board worked on in 2022. She started by discussing the town’s 2023 budget which provides residents with a 5 percent tax cut, “while also providing quality-of-life services and maintaining a stable fund balance,” said Councilwoman Lurvey.
Councilwoman Lurvey listed the amendments presented to the Supervisor’s budget that have been added, including “an additional $2 million for street paving, an additional $1 million for concrete sidewalk and road repair, an additional $1 million for tree trimming and removal, an additional $250,000 for beautification.”
Councilwoman Lurvey highlighted projects she and her Democrat colleagues worked on such as collaboratively bringing back LIRR express trains and continuing the Not In Our Town program to eradicate hate.
“We must continue to educate future generations about the dangers of indifference and bias against others,” said Councilwoman Lurvey. “We will continue to navigate these challenges with various programs and initiatives. Recently, we responded to concerns raised by the town’s Asian American Advisory Task Force by initiating bystander hate crime training. The seminar was extremely well received, and we plan to offer similar programs in the future.”
Working on making the town as climate-friendly as possible has been a priority for Councilwoman Lurvey and her colleagues. Through the Climate Smart Communities Task Force, the town has been trying to reduce its carbon footprint. Over 2022, the town has adopted an Organics Management Plan to reduce the flow of wasted food and is installing electric vehicle charging and bike stations.
“Looking ahead, we have legislation on the town board agenda expediting solar permits and requiring the capability for electric vehicle charging stations in new construction,” said Councilwoman Lurvey. “We are collaborating with local civic groups and organizations to facilitate plantings across the town.”
Due to the divide between the Republicans and Democrats on the town board, some items on the 2022 agenda were not accomplished due to lack of effective communication and collaboration, according to Councilwoman Lurvey.
“In 2022, the Supervisor set an agenda that she could not fulfill alone. Because of Town Law, many actions taken by the Supervisor require town board approval,” said Councilwoman Lurvey. “The reality is that the constituents of the Town of North Hempstead have elected a town board that is split along party lines, and for the sake of our residents, we must work across the aisle to get things done.”
Councilwoman Lurvey continued by detailing some of the actions that remained unfulfilled in 2022. First, she brought attention to “important committees that have received little-to-no attention.”
While Supervisor DeSena stresses the importance of aiding the towns’s most vulnerable populations, the Democrat majority feels the town’s Disability and Veteran’s Advisory Committees rarely meet.
“We have not seen any concrete action taken by the Supervisor that would bolster support for either of these extremely important communities in North Hempstead,” said Councilwoman Lurvey.
In Supervisor DeSena’s speech, she spoke about the importance of the Substance Misuse Advisory Council. She said that “[the council] has worked diligently to meet the issues head-on through a number of ways, including free Narcan training seminars in conjunction with Northwell Health.”
Councilwoman Lurvey claims that the State of the Town Address was the first time this council was ever mentioned to them.
Appointing members to the Board of Ethics has been an issue for the entirety of 2022, now leaching into 2023. Four of the six spots are filled on the board. Councilwoman Lurvey is calling for the remaining two spots to be filled by people that the whole board can agree on. She describes the wait to finish this board as “embarrassing” and “unnecessary.”
A central theme of last year’s Town Address involved fixing the challenges facing the town’s Building Department. Supervisor DeSena proposed a series of actions to reform the department. The plan would strike a portion of the Town Code that created needless interference and shifted accountability away from trained professionals in the Building Department.
With support from residents and the town Building Department Commissioner, the proposal passed after months of back and forth, leading to a modified version. Supervisor DeSena has requested that the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office perform a full field audit of the Town’s Building Department.
Councilwoman Lurvey said “we have expressed concerns that the Comptroller will not be able to provide any substantive insight into how to productively reform operations since the role played by the Comptroller and her office is strictly financial in nature.”
In early 2022, Councilwoman Lurvey and her colleagues “called on the Supervisor to establish a Task Force, composed of a variety of independent professionals in the field, to review Building Department operations and suggest improvements. But this request was simply ignored and she instead outsourced the work which will score political points but nothing more.”
Councilwoman Lurvey and her colleagues continue to look for ways to improve the Building Department situation and the other concerns the Democrat majority has for the town of North Hempstead.
“In spite of the challenges we face, we will continue working toward realizing our potential. We are a phenomenal Town, comprised of diverse, vibrant, and thriving communities. And the best is yet to come,” concluded Councilwoman Lurvey. “My colleagues on the Town Board and I will keep working for you, every day, to ensure continued progress in the year ahead.”