Lurvey blasts DeSena press conference announcing unapproved town projects

Lurvey blasts DeSena press conference announcing unapproved town projects

Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey declared “North Hempstead is not a dictatorship” after Supervisor Jennifer DeSena announced plans Wednesday at a press conference to allocate $9 million in federal funds to five local projects without the Town Board’s approval.

“These decisions must be decided by board resolution, and all seven of us have one equal vote,” Lurvey said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “It is disappointing that Supervisor DeSena called a secret press conference announcing her wish list instead of communicating with her colleagues to ensure she would have the necessary support. It was misleading and disingenuous to act as if her proposals had been finalized and approved. The Town Board will discuss potential projects at the Nov. 17 meeting.”

Lurvey said she filed a resolution Oct. 25 on the allocation of funds, provided by American Rescue Plan Act, for consideration at a Nov. 17 board meeting.

 “The supervisor cannot unilaterally determine what projects we spend that money on. The Town of North Hempstead is not a dictatorship,” Lurvey said.

DeSena, a registered Democrat who ran as a Republican in 2021, made the announcement on Westbury Avenue in Carle Place alongside Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and County Legislator Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury).

She said at the press conference she had allocated $3.1 million to connect Plandome Road businesses in Manhasset to a public sewer system,$2 million for sidewalk replacement along Westbury Avenue in Carle Place, $1 million for rehabilitation of the 8th and Asbury Ballfields in Carle Place, $1.76 million for Sunset Park improvements in Port Washington, and $1.2 million for Fuschillo Park improvements in Carle Place.

As chief executive of the town, DeSena was responsible for submitting her proposed plans to the Treasury Department to receive the federal funding, Brian Devine, her spokesman said. 

However, the seven-member town board, where Democrats hold a 4-3 majority, must pass a resolution authorizing the use of the funds.

Lurvey said there was no discussion with her or any member of the Democratic majority prior to DeSena submitting her resolution before submitting the town’s application to the U.S. Treasury Department or ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline for it to appear on the agenda for the Nov. 17 meeting.

“On October 25 I put a resolution regarding the use of the ARPA funds on the agenda for the November 17 meeting and then sometime later she held a press conference saying she put something on the agenda,” Lurvey said. “She never talked to me about it and we didn’t have any formal discussions regarding the use of these funds.”

Devine said the town was awarded the first half of the money upfront and the second half was only awarded this past summer once the town sent the application to the Treasury Department that identified the projects we were looking to utilize the funds on.” 

He said DeSena identified a number of projects that had been long-delayed “that would be kickstarted by this infusion of funds, projects that represented tangible benefits to our residents Town-wide. There was no stipulation dictating Board involvement prior to submission. As with any spending item, the Board weighs in when it comes before them.”

“At this point, to allocate it to something other than what the Treasury Department approved would probably require further conversations with the Treasury,” Devine said in an earlier email to Blank Slate Media.

During the March 31 town board meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution accepting funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in the amount of $10,114,021.27 to be received in two installments in the summers of 2021 and 2022. 

The board also unanimously voted on a transfer of $445,919 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to the Port Washington Public Parking District after it was found that the district lost revenue in 2021 due to decreased commuter activity from the COVID-19 pandemic during the Oct. 13.

The state Comptroller’s Office is tasked with disbursing federal funds to eligible cities, towns and villages within New York. 

Of the $10.1 million the town has received thus far, about $1 million has been used, the supervisor’s office said. 

Manhasset Chamber of Commerce Co-President Matt Donno hailed the money allocated to the Plandome Road to convert the private septic tanks of businesses to a public sewer system.

Earlier this year, state officials announced $5 million in state funds would be allocated to the project, which has been championed by the chamber.

“This is a project that has long been overdue,” Donno told Newsday. “This $3 million will help pay for the completion of the project along with pump systems for all the stores.”

Donno said businesses along Plandome Road can pay as much as $50,000 to $70,000 annually to pump their septic systems.

Along with the Town’s efforts to replace the sidewalks, the county has also committed to repaving the 100-year-old roadway on Westbury Avenue, essentially giving Carle Place a “brand-new downtown,” DeSena said last week. 

“Both my office and the Nassau County Department of Public Works have been working on the revitalization of Westbury Avenue for years. Unfortunately, the prior administration in the Town of North Hempstead refused to rebuild the sidewalks,” Schaefer said in Carle Place. “Today, I joined Supervisor Jen DeSena and County Executive Blakeman to announce the Town’s commitment to providing $2 million of ARPA funding towards this project so that the road can be repaved, and the sidewalks can be rebuilt!”

The American Rescue Plan received no votes in favor by Republicans either in the House or the Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote.

Blakeman and Schaefer are both registered Republicans. DeSena ran on the Republican line when running for North Hempstead town supervisor and has since endorsed George Devolder-Santos in his run for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District.

A previous version of this article was published. It has since been updated.

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