The leader of a top Long Island business group has called out Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, claiming the supervisor will be dead before the town's crumbling roadways are repaired.
Desmond Ryan, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, sharply criticized Vecchio for his refusal to support a over the next two years. Ryan went as far to state the 81-year-old superintendent will be dead "before voters realize they have an asphalt disaster on their hands."
"The only satisfaction the voter would have had is that Vecchio's hearse could have broken an axle on lousy roads on the way to the cemetery," Ryan said in the newsletter.
The business leader went on further to add:
This is the perfect example of 'kicking the can' so far down the road that the pall bearers will have to step around it. The Supervisor ducked making the decision today because he is hoping someone is going to have to make this infrastructure decision tomorrow. It's not a matter of not fixing the roads. It's a matter of when and who takes responsibility. Mr. Vecchio figures he states a good shot at not having to make the decision required of genuine leadership.
The newsletter article was published alongside a carton that showed a skeleton stepping on a man sitting in a pothole.
Ryan's comments were made in response to Vecchio publicly stating he would not support borrowing $10 million to fix the roadways, as it would increase the burden on taxpayers at a town board meeting earlier this year.
Upon being read Ryan's comments, Vecchio called the claims "laughable."
Glenn Jorgenson, Smithtown's Highway Superintendent, presented a plan under his 2012 Highway Road Program to borrow $10 million bond over a two-year period. His intention is to catch up with repaving miles of roadway and more than 6,000 outstanding sidewalk complaints lodged by town residents.
"I want to borrow that money to get our roads back up to some kind of good standing. We are losing ground, as our roads keep getting older," Jorgenson told Patch in April.
Only Vecchio claimed Jorgenson has never come before the town board with a solid proposal.
"The Highway Department has never presented a plan as to what roads are involved, a grading of local roadways, no kind of in-depth study before asking to borrow money so you know how you will use it," the supervisor said.
Under the town's 2012 budget, Jorgenson has $7.5 million to spend on roadway repairs broken down roughly into $5 million for paving, $1 million for sidewalks and $1 million for curbs.
"We spend $7.5 million a year on road repairs, I really don't know how much more we can spend," Vecchio said.
However, Jorgenson said the town's roads are in desperate need of the money to be brought up to date, and the $10 million bond would allow him to pave an additional 60 miles of roadway each year. He is the process of creating a fully detailed report grading each mile of the town's roadways based upon its condition: poor, fair, good to excellent.
As to Vecchio's complaints about cost, Jorgenson said the bond, if approved, would only cost the average Smithtown homeowner an additional $1 a month in taxes, raising town taxes by $12 a year for two years.
If that seems expensive, the highway superintendent warned the price of repairing the town's roadways, curbs and sidewalks will keep increasing as the cost of oil continues to spike. Jorgenson estimated that the cost could quickly go from $180,000 to pave one-mile to $300,000 by 2013.
Jorgenson said he believe his $10 million road proposal is still a possibility.
"I believe the town council is on board, and I think its going to happen, but I still have to do my political due diligence," Jorgenson.
He will need to get four out of five votes from the town council in order for the plans to be approved. Jorgenson said he believe he has three votes backing him.