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Phil Nolan- New Initiative to keep Islip vibrant.
April 20, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT
Phil Nolan, the recently ( November 2006 ) elected Supervisor of the Town of Islip, came to speak at LIMBA this morning, introducing himself and talking about his experiences to date. Islip is a town of about 330,000 people, with many challenges and bumps in the road, some of which were discussed today. Phil is a super busy fellow handling the day to day issues of government in a progressive town. Rather than a standard stump speech, the session was conducted mostly as a Q and A session. He brought some key people in his administration to help him address some of the questions posed today. The most frequent ones were prompted by the largest asset that the town has, MacArthur Airport. There are two developments regarding the airport, the resolution of the concrete apron problems at the new terminal, and the west side redevelopment project.
The apron problems are in the beginning stages of being resolved, and they will be because the problem is putting a crimp in the ability for the airport to be better utilized. Phil would like to see the marketing focus of the airport be changed to start selling it to carriers instead of passengers, to attract a more diverse base of airlines. The Smithtown Avenue side of the airport will get a makeover, which is in the planning stages of finding a new home for the existing businesses there, and then making way for new structures.
In the Q & A portion of the meeting, Charlie Widener’s question about the Plumber’s Examining Board prompted a long give and take about the day to day machinations of government, the challenges of two-party politics in a town long dominated by one party, and the difficulty of separating the actions necessary for the greater good from the impacts on the narrow groups sometimes affected. This is going to be an issue when talking about the ground leases on the islands of the Great South Bay that are in Islip, Captree, Sexton, and Havemeyer Islands, as the families that have deep roots on the islands will have to pay quite a bit more to lease that ground, as the market value of the leases has grown substantially since they were last priced.
Walter Bernstein brought up the question of addressing the "Youth Drain" on Long Island by reducing the cost of living through regional consolidation of government departments. Phil addressed this by describing the "Collisions of Power" that happen when you actually try to make changes. The higher the dollars at stake, the better the advocates are at arguing for the status quo. It is apparent that there are savings to be had, but what is the correct formula to achieve it, is the question.
The last question was regarding how the working relationships are going between the new guy in town and the traditional incumbents that are still a large part of town government. After being the first Democrat elected in the town in 35 years, Phil has done a few things to upset the apple carts, but he feels that he is there to do his job, and that they have a mostly good working relationship. Out of every twenty resolutions brought to a vote, nineteen are unanimously agreed on, but that twentieth one that has a sticking point is usually a high profile issue that is attractive to the news media. Phil says he isn’t needlessly confrontational, but won’t back down when he feels his convictions are challenged. His formula is to say what you are going to do, and do it.
When we have a LIMBA meeting that has a focus on a person in the public eye rather than a subject focus, we always get a good sense of the person that is unobtainable by reading press accounts. You hear the person, get to talk to them, and really get a feel for their character. Our thanks are extended to the affable and plain spoken Mr. Nolan in coming out to talk to our group about his town and his agenda in governing it.
Pictured, left to right: Al Werner, Gene Murphy, Bill Mannix, Ernie Fazio, Phil Nolan, and Gina La Vecchia
Video supplied by MyLITV.Com: