Mayor Alex H. Edelman
Dear Friend and Resident:
For decades, the Mayor of Lawrence has personally appeared before the Lawrence Civic Association to directly report on the State of the Village. This year, because of the Corona virus, while this annual report is confined to writing, we will nevertheless endeavor to provide our residents with an accurate update on the status of our Village during this critical time.
This year any report on the State of the Village must, of course, start with a review of the Corona virus and its impact on the Village as well as our response.
Let me first begin by extending, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and all staff and residents, our sincerest condolences to those friends and neighbors who sustained a loss during this pandemic. Each of you has our sympathy and support.
The Village of Lawrence was among the first to respond to the crisis with a Mayoral State of Emergency Declaration on March 15th followed by the rapid imposition and enforcement of social distancing. Village employees were all deemed to be essential and while those who could, worked from home, a large number continued to safely provide services on site and all Village facilities, subject to State-imposed restrictions continued to function.
The Village was also instrumental in facilitating the establishment of a Northwell Health Center in Sh’or Yoshuv Institute located within our borders. This facility, available to all members of the community, was deemed to be a unique, vital medical resource to the surrounding area.
On behalf of the Village I regularly consulted with State, Town and County representatives and the New York Conference of Mayors, as well as local medical and religious leaders as to appropriate procedures.
The Village Building Department monitored (and continues to monitor) placement of canopies, social distancing, the wearing of masks and store “customer flow” as well as outdoor dining, an amenity which is expected to continue into the future. The public is urged to cooperate with our staff in implementing and practicing these crucial safety actions.
During the pandemic, Lawrence was fortunate to have resident and prominent immunologist, Dr. Marc Sicklick deliver periodic updates on the virus which residents found informative and uplifting. We thank Dr. Sicklick, who is yet another example of a Lawrencian sharing time, expertise and talent with fellow citizens.
As of this date, Village Hall, the Lawrence Village Justice Court and all recreational facilities are open to the (mask wearing) public with appropriate safety conditions and social distancing in place for the protection of all, though staff can, of course, can be reached by phone (516-239-4600) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
While obviously focused on addressing the challenge of Covid-19, the Village was not distracted from its obligation to provide every resident with the highest, responsive level of government service:
Financially, the Village of Lawrence has not raised taxes, nor does it expect to as it enjoys fiscal stability notwithstanding a temporary reduction in revenue due to the Corona shut down. Any expenses incurred in responding to the virus are expected to be recouped, and pending is recovery of revenue lost (i.e., meters). Also pending is a near settlement that could result in several millions being secured by the Village treasury. Obviously such an amount would be a boon to the Village, and we eagerly await a resolution. Meanwhile, continued adjustments to our accounting have resulted in $50,000.00 in savings; the Village is current with all Comptroller requirements; and, while staffing has been increased, payroll costs are down. The Tax Department has also installed online tax payments to increase office efficiency and homeowners’ convenience, noting again with no new taxes.
Road Repair and Street Maintenance, have been addressed as a matter of urgency. After coordinating with the utility companies to ensure water and gas main upgrades, repaving is beginning on Auerbach Lane, Briarwood Lane, Jorgen Street, Ventana Court, Chestney Road, Amberly Road, Weston Place and Manor Lane. Ocean Avenue, Narragansett Avenue, Polo Lane, Longwood Crossing, Barrett Road, Briarwood Crossing, Hollywood Crossing, Mistletoe Way, Bayberry Road and Tanglewood Crossing have all been restored. In cooperation with the Village of Cedarhurst, Washington Avenue between Central Avenue and the LIRR tracks is being repaved curb to curb. Under consideration are Beach 2nd Street, Heather Lane and Willow Way. Noting our success in prevailing upon the State Department of Transportation to repair the bike lane along Route 878, the Village will continue to pressure the County to effectively maintain the non-Village but nonetheless crucial thoroughfares of Broadway, Rock Hall Road and Rockaway Turnpike. The Highway Department has procured a new asphalt hot box that will allow more and faster pothole repairs, and last year’s mild winter, together with judicious utilization of supplies and equipment, will benefit us in the coming season.
Clearance of walkway obstructions and overhanging trees and hedges as well as sidewalk repair remain a priority with notices being issued and more than 265 dangerous sidewalk flags having been repaired and replaced in cooperation with homeowners.
The recent hurricane highlighted, among other shortcomings, PSEG’s inadequate pole and tree maintenance program. Though the Village has its own electrician and tree-trimming/removal service which addresses these areas on a regular basis, we have already begun, in conjunction with State officials, to demand PSEG institute and effective means of placing modern poles and regularly trimming trees. Nor has the sporadic lighting on Route 878 been forgotten, as the Village has retained a master electrician to finally diagnose the problem which was difficult to trace and repair because the electric wiring was underground, and propose a solution for which the Village is procuring State aid from our State Senator and Assemblywoman.
Actual, positive steps are scheduled to be taken in the Fall on the long awaited “Governor’s New York Rising” State-financed $8.5 million flood mitigation program planned for Meadow Lane, Kenridge Road, Muriel Avenue, Margaret Avenue, Monroe Street, Harrison Street, North Street, Causeway, Barrett Road and Bayberry Road. Meanwhile, the Village is addressing flooding on Waverly Place and Sutton Place South and augmented the Village’s Department of Public Works’ maintenance of water basins and drains with a specially retained vacu-truck and inspection cameras.
A newly hired, experienced Building Inspector has enabled the Building Department to increase the efficiency of its services which remained undiminished during the Corona crisis. A record number of permits and applications are being processed and the number of compliance inspections have increased with special emphasis on illegal weekend and early morning gardening and contracting work.
Pest Control, which began even earlier in 2020 with a new and more effective environmentally safe formula being utilized in a broader area of treatment, has resulted in a substantial reduction in the flying insect problem. Mosquito-trap bags were again available to all residents and 90 fly traps were positioned at specific sites with greater efficacy. Several additional pumps have been placed in Village ponds to eliminate larvae.
Major upgrades were made to the Village’s Information Technology as MailChimp marketing e-mail communications supplemented CodeRed emergency blasts with rapid dissemination of relevant notices and information, and the website has seen an increase in use. The Building Department continues to provide online applications; the Lawrence Village Justice Court allows online payments of parking tickets as well as Smartphone payment at muni-meters and, as noted, the Tax Department now offers online tax payments. As promised, golf and tennis now offer online reservation scheduling. Arranging catered events has been eased through a digital shared calendar.
The Lawrence Yacht & Country Club remains the oft-cited “jewel” of our Village with the golf course being touted by experts as being in great shape and the tennis courts having, through extensive repair, overcome flooding and water issues. KemperSports Management has retained supervisory staff sensitive to the operation of our municipally-owned facility and has recently brought on board a seasoned, experienced Assistant Manager. To date, membership in tennis, golf and marina has dramatically increased, allowing the Club to repay the Village $2.75 million in the past three years. In a cooperative program with Northwell-LIJ Hospital, sunscreen dispensers have been placed at key spots for the convenience and safety of members. Plans are still being considered for an onsite, Lawrence members only; health club and swimming pool, and caterers’ contracts will be re-negotiated to better benefit resident consumers.
Beautification has included the creation of a manicured safety traffic triangle on the corner of Rock Hall Road and Causeway at the entrance to the LY&CC. Flowers have also been planted at the golf club and tennis club and new signage ordered for the entrance to Sutton Park. Zion Park is being maintained while additional safe, viable parkland within the Village is being sought.
Security and Public Safety remain a priority as newly created signage advising motorists, cyclists and pedestrians has been placed at selected locations, and additional benches and one new pocket-park have been installed to assist walkers. As noted, sidewalk maintenance has been aggressively stressed as has litter enforcement and property upkeep. Reporting (and response to) non-working street lights has also been improved.
Installation of approximately twenty-eight (28) security cameras awaits the imminent allocation by the County of $77,500.00 expressly for that purpose, and a security gate has been placed at Lord Avenue and Cumberland Place.
The Village has maintained an especially close connection with the Auxiliary Police; the Lawrence Civic Association; the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Volunteer Fire Department, which we are helping to acquire a new fire engine pumper truck; and the Nassau County Police Department’s Fourth Precinct with whom we worked directly and met with repeatedly over the difficult Spring and Summer, and who are providing additional patrols and immediate response as we combat sporadic car break-ins. Our own Traffic Enforcement Agents have also extended their enforcement responsibilities to assist with traffic control, security, social distancing and safety regulations, and a Village employee is an active, engaged member of the Police Commissioner’s Council, even as a concerned resident represents our interests on the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, and another serves as a County Emergency Management Liaison. As the days grow shorter, the Village continues to make available Safety-Visibility-Belts for joggers and walkers.
While confronting the menace of Covid-19 and addressing the day to day needs of our Village, a report on its current state still requires consideration of the following:
Disposition of the 3.6 acres of the decommissioned water treatment plant: whether to re-zone it and allow a 150-unit apartment complex or retain its current zoning for eight (8) private single-family homes (with one area reserved as a public pocket-park).
Water quality and cost: To date the Village has been successful in its demands for more new pipes and water mains, but the process is slow. Furthermore, the imminent sale of this private water company to yet another private water company may portend increased rates and a diminution of service. Toward that end, there are discussions regarding the Town of Hempstead or other government entities assuming that responsibility. The Village is participating in these ongoing talks to make certain that residents’ interests are protected, and will keep everyone advised.
The Business District, significantly impacted by Covid-19 must be rejuvenated. Outdoor dining will be permanently permitted and resident support encouraged. In the past year, another six businesses have opened on Central Avenue and several store buildings are being renovated. The driveway entering Parking Lot #4 was widened to ease traffic flow and store deliveries. I also spearheaded a novel idea with the Long Island Railroad to allow a restaurant, with outdoor dining, scheduled to open soon, inside the Lawrence Train Station to serve commuters and neighbors and enhance area security. The Lawrence Business Association, too long inactive has recruited several local business leaders who promise to make it a viable component of our Village.
Status of the Woodmere Club: Execution of an Inter-Municipal Agreement with the Town of Hempstead and the Village of Woodsburgh has created the Coastal Conservation District (CCD) which provides for only 59 houses, a clubhouse, and 83.3 acres of open space. It is a battle still to be fought, but our collective action stakes out our firm position on behalf of all the folks who live here: No 285 houses and no “Sixth Town”.
In the same vein, the Village continues to monitor Hempstead Town’s proposed “Transit Hub” which includes areas that border (and could affect) our quality of life.
It is an obvious understatement that 2020 has been a challenging year.
Yet, I am proud to report that the Village of Lawrence – its government and its people – have risen to that challenge with the resources, sensitivity, enthusiasm and integrity that characterize Lawrence as an exciting, affable and desirable destination community.
It has done so thanks to the efforts of the Board of Trustees (with special thanks for the devotion, insights and professional skills of retiring Trustee Syma Diamond), the Zoning, Planning, Building Design and Beautification Boards, the Park Commission, the Court, Historian, TVASNAC and Office of Emergency Management Liaisons, and, especially during these tough times, the dedicated, experienced, spirited and loyal Village employees.
What a joy it is to enter Village Hall every day or stroll our Village streets and encounter those who work so tirelessly on behalf of the Village of Lawrence. I thank each of you, and thank you for allowing me to call each of you a friend, neighbor and fellow Lawrence resident.
Alex H. Edelman
*PLEASE E-MAIL YOUR COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS TO INFO@VILLAGEOFLAWRENCE.ORG
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