Long Island Towns have promised to sink or swim together, according to a statement released on Wednesday. All 13 of the Long Island Town Supervisors met via a Zoom Facebook Live event to speak about the particular challenges involved in Long Island summer planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the group announced the joint planning effort to explore areas of possible coordination of summer programs and facilities. The group is officially known as the Nassau/Suffolk Joint Summer Operations Task Force.
Town Supervisors involved in the meeting included:
Nassau County Supervisors
- North Hempstead - Judi Bosworth
- Hempstead - Donald Clavin, Jr.
- Oyster Bay - Joseph Saladino
Suffolk County Supervisors
- Babylon - Richard Schaffer
- Brookhaven - Edward Romaine
- East Hampton - Peter Van Scoyoc
- Huntington- Chad Lupinacci
- Islip - Angie Carpenter
- Riverhead - Yvette Aguiar
- Shelter Island - Gerard Siller
- Smithtown - Edward Wehrheim
- Southampton - Jay Schneiderman
- Southold - Scott Russell
Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer mediated the meeting. Schaffer is also the Chairman of Suffolk County Supervisors Association.
Schaffer vowed to provide the county executives and the government with information “that will help them as we figure out how to come up with a summer that people can enjoy safely.”
“It’s going to be different, we know that,” he said. “But it’s got to be different to protect everyone’s health and safety.”
He pointed out that the decision and actions aren’t about any individual themselves but about protecting people who might be susceptible.
“It could be anybody,” he said. “If you're not looking to do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor, do it for your relative. Make sure we protect everybody.”
The goal of the working group is to establish possible coordination of three central components necessary to allow for safe recreational summer activity on Long Island:
- Public Health Messaging - consistent social distancing guidelines across all communities will be vital to ensuring broad compliance from residents
- Opening (and possible re-closing) Timelines - Syncing the timing of beach, park and facilities openings as much as feasible, will ensure that variation between towns does not lead to a surge in crowding at one location, due to closure at another. Additionally, if there is an increase in infection rates at some point in the summer, coordinating the possible closure of activities will again prevent any one town or community from being overrun
- Beach, Park, and Playground Policies - While there is very wide-variation among the size and types of parks resources across the Long Island Towns, coordination regarding best practices for potential each usage, park activity, and playground policies will ensure that safest approach is applied uniformly for all residents of Long Island
In its statement, the task force announced a goal date of May 18 to issue the joint guidelines that are agreed upon by all of the towns.
“This will enable the group to take into consideration the very latest research on outdoor virus transmission, and still allow for proper planning and staffing before the start of the summer season,” the statement said.
The final determinations of the task force will be shared with County Executives Steve Bellone and Laura Curran and sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office for approval.
“We will have a summer. It will be different. It will be memorable,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Everyone will remember the summer of 2020.”