Monday, March 03, 2008

Is That Raw Sewage We Smell?

Nah. Its The Stench Of Politics As Usual At Hempstead Town Hall

“Bay Park shouldn’t be the toilet bowl for the entire South Shore.”
--Town of Hempstead Councilman Tony Santino

And why not, Tony?

After all, much of Long Island’s long-forgotten South Shore, particularly that which lies deep in the dark, stinking abyss of Hempstead Town (America’s most blighted township), has become little more than an open sewer. And we’ve got the sewer districts, water districts, sanitary districts, and refuse disposal districts (to name but a few) to prove it!

Odd how Hempstead Town Supervisor, Kate Murray, and her partner in grime, Tony “they enjoy paying more” Santino, place so much import on the rally and Petition, as if they are somehow beholden to the voice of the people. [Kate & Kompany asked residents to sign Petitions and attend a Town Hall orchestrated rally to protest the County Legislature’s recent vote to consolidate several of Nassau’s local sewer districts].

Understand, we share the pain of Bay Park residents (not to mention their acute sense of smell). Still, there's something foul in the air in the sewer district, and its not just what's spewing into the bay through the pipeline.

Rallies and Petition drives never seemed to hold much sway over the decision-making process at Hempstead Town Hall in the past, the motivation being more of self-interest and party preservation, than the needs, wants, or pocket books of the masses.

Could it be that Kate, Tony, and the others beholden to a despotic regime in Hempstead Town are really concerned about the sewage overflow at Bay Park and the negative impact upon residents’ quality of life?

Strange. The acrid stench emanating from the sewage plant – among other environmental hazards that threaten the public’s health, welfare and quality of life – never seemed to raise an eyebrow at Town Hall before.

Perhaps Kate has found her nose at Bay Park (much in the same way Hillary found her voice in New Hampshire), and Tony figured out that, if the County takes over the sewer districts, taxpayers may no longer enjoy paying more while getting less.

Of course, the concern over losing dozens, if not hundreds, of patronage plums at the sewer districts – not to mention the chance to lob spit balls at the County Dems, who championed the consolidation (albeit without much needed debate, and for reasons far from altruistic), may play a small part in raising Kate and Tony’s ire.

Do ya think?

But wait. According to published reports, more than 800 signatures now appear on Petitions against the consolidation plan.

Shouldn’t that count for something?

Of course. Community groups, and residents directly downwind and upstream, should be heard, with grievances fully aired before the Nassau County Legislature and the Hempstead Town Board. The folks footing the bill, and paying the price in terms of habitability and sustainability, should be the final arbiters here, for better (as we believe consolidation will be, in the long run) or for worse (if NIMBYism and shortsightedness win out).

And yet, we think that Kate Murray and Tony Santino doth protest too much.

Should they be listening to the folks at, who, if not opposing consolidation outright, certainly have a legitimate beef?

Absolutely. The gripes about the dumping of sewage are legitimate, even if the opposition to consolidation begs many of the important questions, and fails to assuage concerns about or address the realities of an aging and poorly run sewage plant.

But as our friends and neighbors in the West Hempstead community point out, without taking a position on Bay Park, how can the cries and Petitions in one hamlet be sacrosanct and adopted without further, while the pleas and Petitions of another are ignored and disregarded in the entirety?

Rosalie Norton, President of the West Hempstead Civic Association, points out – and with much validity – that well over 2000 signatures were collected from West Hempstead residents to close the notorious Courtesy Hotel, and to raise in the place of prostitution, drug deals, and myriad assaults (a stench upon West Hempstead), luxury rental units serving as the cornerstone for a revitalized downtown. The Petitions went for naught at Hempstead Town Hall, the Board adopting instead the much maligned Urban Renewal Plan, which itself, has gone nowhere.

Then, too, the West Hempstead community held a Mother’s Day Rally last May across from the Courtesy, demanding that the Town take immediate action to close down the no-tell hotel.

Kate Murray was there (in body, at least). The Supervisor promised closure by year’s end. To this day, residents lament that they did not ask Kate, “which year?”

There’s something terribly wrong – and oh so transparent in its overt deceit – when government portends to take up the cause of some of the people (or as many of the people as it can fool on any given day), while wholly neglecting the people it has either written off (read as, “we don’t need their votes to get re-elected”) or who can no longer be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of phony freezes, broken promises, and an “up yours” arrogance that has become as pervasive at Town Hall as it appears invasive in the unincorporated areas of the township that time and government forgot.

Let’s face reality. From the Argo in Elmont (officially blighted) to the Courtesy in West Hempstead (officially blighted), the blight (yes, its official) in Baldwin to Moldstone in Westbury (no official designation of “blight” yet, but you can be sure they’re working on it), we have witnessed failure piled high upon failure. Local government consumed not with the future of the residents it purports to serve, but rather, with perpetuating the reign of the chosen few, with all attendant pompousness that accompanies the monolithic majesty, who are anointed to serve.

Frankly, its not the raw sewage you smell from Bay Park or Glen Cove. It’s the stench of a decaying carcass that passes itself off as representative government at Hempstead Town Hall.

Yes, the Nassau County Legislature is holed up in what looks much like an abandoned sewer, partisan politics and personal vendetta having displaced even the rats that once dwelled there.

But the Legislature’s ineptitude and tolerance for the inane pale by comparison to Town Hall’s seemingly innate ability to hang in there – year after year, decade after decade, century after century – despite its best efforts to alienate the electorate, and defecate on the taxpayer.

While we have come to endure the hardships of Town Hall’s indifference – too often ambivalent in deference to our own – the time has come (actually, it came years ago, but we were largely oblivious to it) to supplant Hempstead Town’s self indulgent arrogance with a new mindset: Failure in government is no longer an option.

Failure in government, from top to bottom.

Wars without end or merit. A father who doesn’t know the price of tube socks, and a son who hasn’t heard about the rising cost of gas. A Building Department that never met a code violator it didn’t like. Zoning Board/Planning Board, devoid of the capacity to do either. A Supervisor and a Town Board that says it hears the voices of community (or are they only the voices in their own heads?), but steadfastly refuses to listen.

Whether on the streets of Washington, D.C., or on Washington Street in Hempstead, the failure and foibles, follies and fantasies, must be brought to an end.

Tony Santino may take umbrage to the toilet bowl that Bay Park has become.

Take note, Tony. The rest of us are none too happy with the festering sewer that you guys at Town Hall have permitted to overflow in Hempstead Town.
- - -
Residents protest South Shore sewage proposal

Special to Newsday

For many Bay Park and East Rockaway residents, Nassau County's sewage plant just plain stinks.

With a toilet on the park's grass, colorful protest signs in their hands and masks covering their faces, more than 300 of them Saturday called for Nassau to flush its new .sewage plan.

The county legislature on Jan. 14 approved the takeover of the Glen Cove, Cedarhurst and Lawrence sewer districts in a move that Democrats praised for its environmental benefits and Republicans criticized as a bailout for financially strapped Glen Cove. The move would close the antiquated plants in Cedarhurst and Lawrence and redirect at least 2 million gallons of waste water a day to the Bay Park plant.

"Instead of spending $15 million to build a pipe to bring that waste water here to Bay Park, use that money to rebuild the plant in Lawrence, rebuild the plant in Cedarhurst," Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony Santino said to vigorous applause.

Members of the grassroots organization against the plan,, reported 300 new signatures on its anti-sewage plan petition, which already had 800 names.

Residents said the 2 million gallons would contribute not just to the horrid smell emanating from the plant, but the additional waste would threaten fishing and swimming in the bay.

"It would be unbearable," said Stanley Lombardo, 54, of East Rockaway. "If they come in with more sewage, who's going to even bother [to fish]?"

Many of the handmade signs and crowd's chants criticized Legis. Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside), whose district covers both Bay Park and East Rockaway and who voted in favor of the sewage plan.

Toback said by phone Saturday that any plan to upgrade the two smaller plants would be "counterintuitive to the consolidation plan." The county's sewage system needs consolidation so that it can become eligible for federal funding for piping that would deposit the waste further out in the ocean, instead of the bay, he said.

In addition, the Bay Park plant can hold 70 million gallons of waste a day, he said, and another 2 million won't "affect the quality of life." The plant, according to both residents and Toback, processes around 56 million gallons of waste a day.

"I challenge anyone to show me that adding 2 million gallons, plus or minus, will change the impact the plant has on the community," said Toback, who will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. March 19 at East Rockaway High School.

Despite passage of the plan in January, Santino said the deal isn't set, as any funding for the construction of a pipe would require a bond vote, which needs a two-thirds majority to get on the ballot.

"Bay Park shouldn't be the toilet bowl for the entire South Shore," Santino said.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.


  1. I'd like to hear comments from anyone who was at the community meeting last night (3/19) at the HS with Suozzi, Toback and co.

  2. Check out for info about the 3/19 meeting and much more.

  3. While I thank you for supporting us, I must say you are dead wrong about Tony Santino and Kate Murray.
    When the county first proposed to ram this ill-conceived consolidation plan down our throats, we were just a few concerned Bay Park residents that tried to get the county to postpone their plan.
    After the Democrat Majority passed it through in a partisan vote, 10-8, our group reached out to Councilman Santino and asked for help in fighting to stop the county's plan.
    We also reached out to Senator Dean Skelos, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Assemblyman Bob Barra.
    The only politician to reply and offer his help was Tony Santino. Mr. Santino is a community resident himself, so if you try to look beyond the politics of it, he is in essence a concerned community resident as are we all.
    I proudly say thank you to all the elected officials who stood behind us and made our voice stronger. I applaud the few politicians with the backbone to stand up and fight against something that is wrong.
    So thank you Tony Santino, Thank you Kate Murray. Thank you Legislator Fran Becker. Thank you, Legislator John Ciotti. Thank you, Minority Leader Peter Schmitt and the members of the legislative minority. Thank you, Senator Dean Skelos. Thank you, East Rockaway Mayor Ed Seiban. Thank you, Lynbrook Mayor Brian Curran.
    Kudos to all of you who have spoke out against this environmental nightmare and are helping us prevent the county from consolidating the sewage of Lawrence and Cedarhurst into the plant at Bay Park.