‘Local Snapshots’ are intended to be your look into what local government is doing for you, with updates on projects, issues and more. Hopefully, they will give you a quick, up-close glimpse at your local officials.
Background: Deputy Mayor Dan W. White, 68, is an attorney who also serves as a trustee for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. White ran in 2013 in a contested election on a ticket called the “Box Party” (village elections are generally nonpartisan, and thus those seeking office often have inventive ballot lines). In a 2013 interview with the Patch, White listed an 18-percent tax increase, the village police department’s functionality, road conditions and storm preparedness as his motivation behind joining the race.
We were able to touch on those issues during his interview but also delved into new territory, looking at cybersecurity. White emphasized that these accomplishments were all done through the collaborative efforts of the board of trustees.
“We look forward and backward,” remarked White about the state of the Village of Head of the Harbor currently.
“Forwards, we are in very uncertain economic times,” stated White, referencing the general economic malaise. “The important thing there is to adapt and adjust and improvise as necessary because chances are people won’t be asking less of their village government if the resources available to village government become strained.”
Police and Crime
The conversation soon veered into the topic of public safety.
“There are about 500 houses and about 1,500 people in the village, and I want to make them know what an incredible police department we have because this is a model that cannot be repeated everywhere,” said White. “We have one officer on duty almost all the time.”
The current police department has one paid police chief and a mix of part-timers from either a retired background or who currently work for the Suffolk County Police Department or as deputy sheriffs.
White discussed the pay disparity between working for the village, where they only make $36 an hour – far less than the $100 plus some of the officers could be making working overtime through their primary employers, depending on rank and duration of service.
Why would they do that? – you might ask, especially considering that most do not come from the village or township.
“They come here for being able to help,” noted White. “There’s probably a misperception about the police in the village…I am going to be talking to a number of people, and I want to continue telling people that we’re really lucky to have this department.”
White also noted that based on his conversations with other village leaders that if you have a police department now, you “pretty much” have to have full-timers, which is an immense financial undertaking for any municipality.
Recently, the chief of the Head of the Harbor Police Department was involved in a multi-department operation that led to the arrest of several individuals stealing catalytic converters. The village is also expecting an additional license plate reader soon. Two police cars would then be equipped with the technology, with all three having mobile data terminals.
The village acquired these resources in the past ten years.
“One of the things the village is committed to is updating the software and security on the computers … so that we can be more resistant to cyber-attacks,” said White as he referenced both local and national cyber-attacks.
Admitting that the village is not the most likely target of cyber criminals, he views the village’s cyber capabilities as one of “a steady process of increase.”
“We’re thinking about the next step and the step after that, considering it incrementally.” “Whatever is happening, the village is expected to provide services,” noted the trustee.
Fellow trustee Jeffrey D. Fischer has been heavily involved in hardening the cyber resilience of the village.
Drainage and Roads
“Geographically, the Head of the Harbor is considered a salad bowl,” said White. “What we are doing with our resources and with the cooperation of our partners in government is to minimize the amount of water that goes into Stony Brook Harbor.”
“Right now, there is a threegovernment project between Smithtown, the Village of Nissequogue, and the Village of Head of the Harbor over Cordwood Beach, since Cordwood Path runs to Stony Brook Harbor.”
Once the study is concluded by the Town of Smithtown, stakeholders will be invited to give input on the issue.
“Recently, we paved the village parking lot, and after that, we paved 20 miles of road,” said White.
Contrasting the village’s road obligations to neighboring Nissequogue, Head of the Harbor has fewer private roads. The village’s policy is to pave the worst first. White concluded his remarks on the village’s highway department by complimenting the foreman and the department for “conscientious” and “capable” work.
Through a multimodal grant made available through Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Kings Park), part of those funds went toward paving the village hall campus.
“Why’d you do that?” White rhetorically asked. “Because we would probably have a body of water governable by the Department of Environmental Conservation outside of village hall if we hadn’t.”
With the previous paving corrected, White was proud to note that in the event of an emergency, the village hall could still function and provide a place of refuge – especially with the generator the village had already acquired.
Listing the reasons people move to Head of the Harbor, White listed property values, predictable taxes and a village that works for its residents.
“And what we’ve been doing now is what we’re doing for the past 10 years,” said White.