The Orangetown Town Council voted unanimously to agree to an extension of its agreement with the law firm Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP for the entirety of 2013 at Tuesday’s meeting.
The agreement pays $4,000 per month plus ancillary expenses to the law firm that acts as a lobbying service representing Orangetown at the state level.
During public comments at Tuesday’s meeting, Michael Mandel of Pearl Riverspoke out against brining back the law firm. He argued that the law firm did not do anything for the town over the last year and asked the town to look to other firms.
Multiple board members chimed in later at Tuesday’s meeting, praising the work of the law firm, especially as the town looks to redevelop Rockland Psychiatric Center. Councilman Denis Troy said it might be hard for members of the public to see how Wilson, Elser has helped the town.
“They added value when we had our meeting with the state,” Troy said. “I want to finally see something come to fruition that benefits the town with Rockland Psychiatric Center.”
Back in November, local officials met with representatives from the state Office of Mental Health and Office of General Services. It was the first face-to-face meeting between local officials and state representatives. The big item to come out of that meeting was the acknowledgement that the state and town need to work together, as each own part of the land, so the project will be more desirable for developers, thus helping Orangetown benefit the most from the redevelopment.
Earlier at Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Andy Stewart said the town drew up a letter asking the Office of Mental Health and Office of General Services to engage in a discussion in the town. He hopes that would lead to an official document that describes what is the town’s land and what is the state’s land, and the process by which they can talk to investors and developers together so the town can see a comprehensive redevelopment take place.
Councilman Thomas Diviny also spoke out in favor of Wilson, Elser.
“They’re opening doors that haven’t been opened before, and we need them there,” Diviny said.
Both Diviny and Troy talked about how the law firm has helped move the process further along than either of them had seen prior to Wilson, Elser’s involvement. Diviny said the law firm knows who to talk to and how to get them on the phone.
“This is what we need up there,” Diviny said. “We’re getting to places up there we haven’t gotten before.”
The board went over many other items at Tuesday’s meeting. A few others were:
- Passing a resolution condemning The Journal News for publishing a map of legally licensed pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties last month.
- The board tabled a vote that would’ve raised the Hawking and Peddling License fee from $250 to $300. Morr wanted to know if it’d be possible to have separate prices for vendors paying the fee that come from out of the town opposed to those that live in Orangetown. Orangetown Town Clerk Charlotte Madigan said that’s possible to look into. She also suggested raising the fee and said it hasn’t been raised since 1991. Morr asked if it would be possible to see what the vendors are selling and what nearby towns charge for the license fee. Madigan said there are 78 vendors on the list, most from out of the town. She said a lot are vendors who sell balloons and toys during fairs and parades.
- There were a number of appointments and reappointments to various town boards, as well. Partricia Castelli was reappointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Michael Bosco was appointed the Zoning Board of Appeals to complete the unexpired term of former member William Mowerson, who resigned. Len Feroldi was appointed as an alternate member of the zoning board. Daniel Sullivan was appointed chairperson of the board.
- William Young was reappointed to the Planning Board and Kevin Garvey was appointed chairperson of the board for a one-year term.
- Blythe Yost’s term was reinstated for the Architecture and Community Appearance Board of Review (ACABOR). Jill Fieldstein was reappointed to ACABOR for a three-year term and Elizabeth Mattison was reappointed for a five-year term on the board.
- A resolution reappointing Paul Papay as the chair of ACABOR failed after Stewart made a motion and none of the other board members seconded it for a vote. Diviny said he felt they didn’t discuss the appointment enough for him to want to vote on it. Valentine said he was surprised the item was on the agenda and didn’t expect it to be there. When Stewart asked for other nominations for chair, no one submitted anyone. After the meeting, Stewart said he was surprised and that typically when a nomination for a chairperson isn’t voted on, someone else is nominated at that time. Diviny said after the meeting he could see them voting in Papay at a later time.
- The board accepted the resignation of Lt. Joseph Holahan from the Orangetown Police Department effective Jan. 22.
- The board approve bingo licenses for St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, St. Margaret’s School Auxiliary and Beth Am Temple.