Residents Stand Up For YMCA

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A group of residents showed up at last week’s Glen Cove City Council meeting to voice their concern over the lease dispute at the YMCA at Glen Cove, even though the issue is not one the city is involved in. Still, the rumors circulating and lack of information prompted members of the YMCA, as well as others, to try to get answers from Mayor Reginald Spinello and members of the city council.

“This is a valuable asset…why aren’t you taking a stand?” asked Ron Menzel.

“The city has a relationship with both parties, so we are not taking a position,” said Spinello.

He said that as far as he knew, the Glen Cove Neighborhood House Association (GCNHA) had offered the YMCA a one year extension on the lease. He said that there were some issues that needed to be worked out, but would not disclose any details, as he said, “it is between them.”

“Things will be fine, just let this play out,” Spinello said. “There’s nothing to panic about.”

John DeBiase of Sea Cliff said, “I feel the city should take a stand on this…the YMCA helps so many people…it is not just a gym.”

Pasquale Cervasio asked for some background on the GCNHA, which Councilman Michael Famiglietti, the former CEO of YMCA Long Island, provided.

Famiglietti explained that the association was originally a settlement house for new immigrants to help them assimilate. The property the YMCA occupies was donated to the GCNHA by the Pratt family, with the stipulation that they form a board and use it for recreational purposes. Who that property is leased to, Famiglietti said, is strictly up to the GCNHA board of directors.

“It will always be a recreational facility,” he clarified.

DeBiase asked Famiglietti whether or not he would be interested in running a new facility, should the YMCA leave and a new facility take its place.

“It has not even crossed my mind,” said Famiglietti. “I’m enjoying my retirement too much.”

Change In Code Enforcement

The second public hearing to amend the city charter to put the code enforcement department under the supervision of the police department was held, and the decision to pass the resolution was unanimous. Deputy Chief Christopher Ortiz will be in charge of overseeing the division of code enforcement.

“As I said before, I believe this is a bad idea,” said Drew Lawrence, a certified code enforcer who serves as building inspector in Sea Cliff. “The police department and code enforcement department are of two different mindsets and they should never mix.”

He noted that Ortiz has enough on his plate already, but suggested that he be given a second title of director of code enforcement if he is overseeing the department as well.

“The change is already making a difference,” said Spinello. “It is proactive not reactive. Every move we’ve made so far for code enforcement has been a big plus.”

Ortiz said, “Code enforcement has ramped up its activity and it’s a positive thing; we’ve come across nine homes just in the past month that are overcrowded to the point where they are extremely dangerous…there is a lot of work being done in a short amount of time…I’m not trying to change the philosophy of code enforcement, I’m just trying to administer the department a little better by creating short cuts and cut through red tape and make it easier for them to go out and get these properties that have egregious problems and cure them.”

Kristina Heuser, the deputy city attorney for Glen Cove, said, “From my perspective, it’s a very natural fit for code enforcement to be under the police department…code enforcement is also charged with enforcing the laws, specifically of housing and building codes and zoning laws…I think it will be a great help for the code enforcement [division] to learn the way the police department gathers information and prepares their cases for prosecution.”

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