Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink said he aims to revitalize the town’s Building Department if elected supervisor in November.
Wink, a Democrat, acknowledged the criticism the department has received from the public and potential developers during a virtual forum with Blank Slate Media. Wink said one area to focus on is the need to have a more transparent process from permit application until the completion of a project.
“It does take a significant amount from start to finish, whether it is a residential project or a commercial project and because time is money, that’s an expensive proposition,” Wink said. “The more delays in the process, the longer it takes to get a permit, the longer it takes to get final inspections and the more it costs a developer or homeowner.”
Wink said he believes that despite concerns from the public and developers, there are members of the department who want the process clarified for everyone and want to help expedite the process in an efficient manner. With some work and ideas from members of the department, Wink said, the narrative can begin to change.
“I think the reputation will change over time,” Wink said. “What we have to affect first are procedures and operations. We have to affect customer service and only over time will that change its reputation.”
As clerk, Wink’s role includes overseeing all town records, something he said also needs to be better organized in the Building Department. Along with the organization of department records, Wink said, residents and developers should have more face-to-face interactions with department representatives.
“Information leads to efficiency and transparency,” he said. “The more someone, from the very beginning, understands what the process is like, the better it is throughout the process. It also provides a level of accountability.”
If elected, Wink said, he will look at the potential for additional staff or reallocating current department members. Wink said he has had conversations with members of the department and design professionals outside the department and believes the town being able to help people at the beginning of the process is the paramount need before potentially hiring additional staffers.
Wink also said he hopes to have a hand in revitalizing business districts throughout the town after the hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. With more people having flexibility to work from home and with the prominence of online retail, Wink said decisions on what downtowns should consist of depends on what the future holds.
“We don’t know what the future of retail is going to look like,” Wink said. “I would love to believe that our downtowns are going to continue to be mom-and-pop-generated small businesses that are providing services and experiences to their shoppers that you can’t get in a mall or Amazon. But that’s where the future of retail seems to be headed at this point.”
Transit-oriented and mixed-use developments, Wink acknowledged, have also been more popular in recent years. While he acknowledged that each village has its own government and he does not intend on trying to micromanage what stores go where, Wink said he would certainly look to play a role in aiding villages in their quest for business retention.
Wink said businesses that require full vaccination status should be respected for their commitment to health and safety for their patrons. Whether the measure needs to be done at a state, county, or local level, Wink said, businesses should be doing more to prioritize the health and safety of all town residents.
The moderator of the town’s newly established cannabis task force, Wink said he looks forward to hearing more public input and opinions from people throughout the industry before the town decides whether to permit retail cannabis sales. Wink did mention he wished the state had handled the situation better, citing unclear forecasts for what municipalities can expect if they were to opt in.
“Towns, villages and cities don’t essentially know what they’re in for,” Wink said. “It’s unfortunate, but it is the position that we’re in.”
Wink, a former town councilman and Nassau County legislator, is running for the seat currently held by Judi Bosworth, who announced in January that she would not run for re-election this fall. When asked why people should vote for him rather than his Republican opponent, Jennifer DeSena, Wink said he does not view the race as him versus someone else.
“I don’t feel like I’m running against anyone, I feel like I’m running for a seat, it just so happens somebody else is also running for the seat,” Wink said. “My sense, quite frankly, is that my experience, knowledge, and understanding of … government, uniquely qualifies me to be town supervisor.”
Wink’s full interview with Blank Slate Media can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU-g-1t6Atg.