By Danny Schrafel
A revised proposal which would require carbon monoxide detectors in places of public assembly in Huntington is going back before the town board July 15.
The legislation follows the Feb. 22 death of Steven Nelson, a manager at the Walt Whitman Shops’ Legal Sea Foods restaurant. Nelson died in the restaurant’s basement as a result of a carbon monoxide leak that sickened dozens.
Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who has sponsored both versions of the town law, said the board elected not to vote on his initial proposal, which would have required carbon monoxide detectors in all places of public assembly, and instead re-file a new draft that addressed a “bunch of changes we needed to make.”
“We think we’ve come up with a tighter definition and a more workable solution,” he said.
Principal amongst those changes is a sharper definition of what exactly constitutes a “place of public assembly.” Under the new code, those are defined as spaces designed for the “gathering of 50 or more people” for civic, social or religious functions, recreation, eating and drinking or waiting for transportation.
Cuthbertson’s proposal would require those places that meet the standard to have a carbon monoxide detection system installed by Jan. 1, 2015.
Following the Legal Sea Foods incident, local municipal agencies have acted swiftly to establish new standards.
The Northport Village Board voted May 6 to require carbon monoxide detectors in all places of public assembly. And County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk legislators have already approved three laws pertaining to carbon monoxide detection since Nelson’s death. Legislators William Spencer (D-Centerport) and John Kennedy (R-Smithtown) cosponsored the Steve Nelson Act, which would require all county facilities to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, which was adopted April 29.
Another, sponsored by Spencer, requires “front-line” county employees, like public health workers, nurses, rescue personnel and police and firefighters, to be equipped with portable detectors. The Suffolk County PD is due to issue a report to the legislature, due in early July, delineating how to best equip officers. And Kennedy-backed legislation created a Commercial Building Carbon Monoxide Task Force.
The July 15 hearing on the town measure is set to begin at 2 p.m. at Huntington Town Hall.