Ocean Beach Board Meeting 5/16/15: “Short Agenda”

By Shoshanna McCollumCorneille Estates, New York – Eyebrows were raised when Mayor James Mallot walked into the school gymnasium in his dapper gray suit. Rumor had it he was attending a family wedding later that day. At a mere 14 items, much of it routine, Mallot described the meeting’s itinerary as a “short agenda.”In his mayor’s report, Mallot announced this would be the last of the village board meetings held at Woodhull School this spring. After Memorial Day Weekend, they will once again be held at the Community House through the summer. His report also highlighted some big projects including the rehabilitation of the ferry terminal, slated to finally begin next fall, and assembly of the multi-use “Morton” building at Surfview Walk in late June.“These are your tax dollars at work, and I’m happy to report that,” he said.Mallot also mentioned that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers FIMI project should be progressing to Ocean Beach by 2016, and that USACE would be moving the oceanfront wells at their expense. One will be relocated to Midway and another somewhere bayside but exact locations were not discussed.Village Superintendent Kevin Schelling then reported that the Community House has been converted to LED lighting. The concrete work on upper Cottage and Bungalow Walks is winding down, and the streetlights have all been checked and are ready for the season.Budget modifications for 2015-2015 that totaled $59,970.27 as per item 8 in the agenda was unanimously passed by all board members in attendance. (Trustee Greg Pace was absent.)Item 10 in the agenda however, an approval for insurance appraisals of various Ocean Beach Village properties, was unexpectedly tabled. Craig Sherman, an Ocean Beach resident, stated from the audience floor that many insurance companies will often furnish an appraiser at their expense, and even if the village cost associated with this proposed resolution was a modest one, such avenues should at least be investigated. The board listened and agreed.Fifteen minutes into the meeting the public hearing opened.Special Permit Application 264 was on behalf of yours truly, Fire Island News, to open a news office as well as an administrative office for The Palms Hotel at 153-155 Bay and Bungalow Walks. This is the location where Fire Island Country Mouse used to be, with the interior slightly expanded. There had been some uncertainty to the decision, as the Planning Board denied operating The Palms Hotel office portion of the application during their meeting of April 18. The Planning Board deemed this an “accessory use” of the space, as The Palms Hotel does not operate on the building premises. However the mayor’s board overrode this recommendation citing another provision in the village code that professional offices within the business district is a legal and permitted use. The application was approved.Special Permit 266, put forth by Real Estate Broker Megan Wallace, seeking to open her own office on 471-472 Dehnhoff Walk along Delivery Lane, where Fire Island Homes had operated prior, was also approved. This is not a relocation of Dana Wallace Real Estate. Her father, Dana Wallace III, still plans to keep his office on Bayberry Walk open for business.Little Pick Four Corporation, who does business as Ocean Beach Trading, submitted special Permit 267. OBT’s application is to operate the deli and grocery store. This application was a little confusing to the audience, because Craig and Bonnie Georgi were in operation all last summer, 2014. Why was this application only coming up now?“They were a little late,” said Mallot about the paperwork.However the board did mention there were concerns with the condition of the building in which OBT is housed, especially in light of the ferry terminal construction planned in close proximity next fall. However the Georgi’s lease the store, they do not own the building it’s within. Their application was also approved.Upon close of the public hearing came one of the final agenda items — accepting the low bid to shingle the modular police station in cedar. The low bid came in at $36,800 plus materials. Voices in the audience asked why the village was making such an investment in a building it does not yet own.Trustee Jason Bendicksen described the situation as “more temporary than you like for a longer time.”Village Administrator Steven Brautigam seemed confident that the village was going to have the option to purchase the modular police station for a dollar upon the end of FEMA’s contracted lease.Trustee Brian Power called the decision “as uniform as it gets.”However even after passing the resolution the argument spilled over into the public hearing, as the meeting’s length was now approaching two hours.Particularly vocal was former Trustee Kenneth Klein and his wife, Cindy.“Talk about an eyesore, what’s going on at the Village Office?” asked Klein. “At the rate that gentleman is working it’s going to take another six months, this is ludicrous!”Cindy Klein added the sentiment that the aesthetics of other Fire Island communities have already rebounded in the three years since Sandy, citing Fair Harbor as an example.“Fair Harbor did not have the kind of damage we did!” said a visibly red-faced Mallot in a raised voice. “Sometimes things are ugly, we are lucky to have a sewer plant running. We are going to have to suffer through it, but at the end of the day it will be better, safer. You have to have patience.”A dapper-dressed Mayor Mallot made quite an impression.Public outcry about aesthetics is prompting the Ocean Beach Board to spend $36,800 to cedar shingle the prefabricated modular police station that was leased through FEMA after Hurricane Sandy.The next Ocean Beach Board of Trustees meeting will be held on June 20, 2015.