Opinion: Stop The Divisive Hyperbole And Focus On Issues

By James V. Kelly

James V. Kelly is publisher of Long Islander News.

James V. Kelly is publisher of Long Islander News.

Some thoughts around this political season. It seems to me that there’s been a lot of divisiveness in our town council races. We also had claims of bullying and intimidation of speakers. But is this group taunting a candidate, not for thoughtful discourse, but to disrupt open discussions that people were there to have?

Whether it is the group antagonizing a candidate – or the candidate taking the bait – both sides need to stop. There are real issues that need to be discussed, and the public gets sidetracked by the arguing.

There were questions raised by others concerning Councilwoman Susan Berland’s charges for mileage for using her car while for town functions. These seem to be legitimate questions, but ones we will not have time to properly investigate and report on for this edition.

For my part, here are some things to consider.

Berland, in her campaign literature, claims credit for The Paramount opening in the village, and for long-needed reforms to our zoning and planning boards. So you need to ask the question: What was the benefit to the town (and the village) to add approximately 1,000 seats to the IMAC Theater to make it The Paramount? The expansion to the theater was pushed through quickly, but not the parking solution. Shuttling patrons from the train station parking did not work. Four years later, and at a cost to the taxpayers, we bought another parking lot in the village area. With our zoning board of appeals approving about 100 apartments in the village, will this actually fix any issue?

Because of the Paramount expansion, the additional apartments and new restaurants all given variances for parking in the village, the town board is looking for a large parking structure in the village. The solution offered by three of the four candidates is a public-private partnership. That means we would lease a developer the land who would build the buildings, collect rents and charge parking fees. It is a private company making a profit on public land. Only Keith Barrett feels we need to better understand alternatives before taking action.

But please think of this. Who is proud of the conversion of Huntington village into “The Little Apple” resplendent with the feel of a small city? My family and I live near the village, and I work in the village because we like what the village is – a village. If we wanted to live in a small city, I could have easily moved there years ago. This is only one of the items I believe is important to our town.

So strip away all of the hyperbole that some candidates are tossing around and look at the issues. In the last four years, has the village of Huntington become better or overcrowded? Your vote next week will be a referendum for the urbanization of a village.