Nicolello takes questions on opioid crisis

Nicolello takes questions on opioid crisis
Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello, a Republican who represents the county’s 9th district. (Photo courtesy of Rich Nicolello)

While the audience at a Mineola Chamber of Commerce dinner consisted of local officials and business owners, the topic they were most interested in was not taxes or infrastructure but the opioid crisis.

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) was the guest speaker on Tuesday night and faced many questions about opioid addiction in the county.

“We want to fix the people who are addicted but can’t we go and get those who are making these people become addicted through accessibility [to painkillers]?” one person asked.

Another asked if there was more to be done to prevent young adults from getting addicted to opioids.

“Opioid epidemic is a concern to all of us,” Nicolello said. “In 2016, over 500 residents of Nassau and Suffolk died of an opioid overdose.”

He said the county would increase treatment opportunities available to addicts and mentioned that the Nassau University Medical Center has unused floors in the hospital that could be used as a treatment center.

He also mentioned holding those who have overdosed for 72 hours, as police have reported that some who have overdosed go right back to using. Still, he said that there was only so much the county could do. The state would have to take the lead on some initiatives.

There were questions about taxes and infrastructure, too.

Several attendees asked about property tax assessments. Nicolello said the assessments should be done every three years or so, and the county would have to do them since the towns had no interest in handling it.

He was also asked about a trolley that would run through Mineola but said it was still being studied and was unlikely to happen.

“It’s still more of a dream than anything else at this point,” he said.

Before taking questions, Nicolello made brief comments about the priorities of the Nassau County government. He said that he had a good working relationship with County Executive Laura Curran and that the two parties should be able to get along.

He said that taxes were the county’s top priority going forward, namely limiting any increases. Nicolello said the county had successfully reduced crime, noting that it was at its lowest level in Nassau since 1966.

As for the Coliseum site, he said that he had toured the arena with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Islanders owner John Ledecky, who are considering hosting games at the site while the Belmont arena is being built. Nicolello said officials running the Coliseum hoped to get 20 games a year over the next few years and possibly some playoff games.

He also took time to praise the local government, specifically Mineola, whose mayor was in attendance.

“Village government is probably the form best government you can have,” he said. “And there’s no group of officials better than the ones here in Mineola.”

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