The Southampton Press condenses a dramatic story of financial turnaround in Southampton Town that should be given fuller attention and recognized as an important example of successful leadership [“Town’s Credit Rating Climbs,” News Briefs, August 1]. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has done a remarkable job restoring Southampton Town to financial health. The proof is in the credit rating upgrades by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s public finance groups’ evaluations of town finances: AA+ credit rating from S&P, and Aa1 from Moody’s. Government the way it’s supposed to operate is why these two rating agencies have improved our financial grades. Standard and Poor’s attributes improved finances to the town’s implementation of structural and technical reforms. Moody’s report states that management has adopted a number of internal controls and initiatives to keep expenditure growth at a minimum. All this accomplished despite the budgetary setback the town took from post-Hurricane Sandy cleanup.
Financial history pre-Throne-Holst is painful. In 2009, S&P placed the town on credit watch, and in 2010 downgraded the town’s credit rating for overspending over several government and special district funds. Town finances were in terrible shape.
This unfortunate history is behind us now. Sometimes leadership matches up with the challenge and opportunities presented to accomplish good things for the community.
Overall water quality is now acknowledged by virtually all concerned parties as the single largest element in securing Southampton’s survival and growth. Our town water environments, both ground and surface versions, are facing several serious challenges, not the least of which is the Speonk Solvent Plume in the Speonk/Remsenburg communities. Southampton Town has maintained a policy of rapid action and transparency ever since the second area of concern in Remsenburg was identified.
Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst immediately established the Speonk Solvent Plume Working Group (SSPWG). This tightly knit group includes those who have immediate influence and interest, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health, the Suffolk County Water Authority, a small group of environmental activists, several local community and civic associations, local legislators and three professional hydrogeologists. The leadership she is providing has kept the group focused and devoted to working together on this single issue.
At the beginning, huge chasms separated these parties’ interests, but Ms. Throne-Holst’s rapid uptake and analysis of the facts enabled her to pull this small effective group together. A true act of leadership in maximizing the efforts of others, all toward the achievement of a goal.
Since the DEC has received authorization to spend funds to monitor the second area of concern, a smaller set of working technical professionals from within the SSPWG is about to finalize its recommendations for monitoring and analysis. You can visit the town’s website to follow the SSPWG by clicking on “Boards & Committee” on the home page, which will take you to a menu where the SSPWG is available.
In 1990, Connie Rosko approached the Hampton Bays Civic Association saying he intended to sell the last large undeveloped parcel of land in downtown Hampton Bays. Mr. Rosko stated he had approached the town and they appeared completely disinterested. We immediately saw the opportunity to have perhaps the one thing Hampton Bays lacked: a park or hamlet green in the heart of downtown. Thus began a three-year arduous journey to get the town to acquire the parcel.
Thus, we rejoiced when on Monday, August 12, the Town of Southampton submitted a New York State grant application for the planning of the Good Ground Park/Village Green Development. Although the responsibility for submitting the grant proposal belongs to the town, and we are deeply grateful, much of the credit for the effort belongs to the residents of Hampton Bays.
To the hundreds of citizens who filed letters of support, to the numerous businesses, civic leaders and organizations who solicited that support, to the students who gathered petition signatures, and to the state and local officials who lent the support of their offices, I wish to extend a very appreciative thank you.
I wish to extend my thanks to the Hampton Bays Civic Association and the Hampton Bays Beautification Association. Also, I wish to thank Kevin McDonald, Hampton Bays School Superintendent Lars Clemensen and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone for spearheading the effort on behalf of the Hampton Bays community.
Grant applications are complex documents difficult to get focused and moving in one clear direction. In this case, the residents of Hampton Bays were very focused and had an extremely clear vision for their community.
No one can assure the success of a grant application, but the common purpose exhibited by the Hampton Bays community in this effort is, in fact, a success. My sincere compliments to all.