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Northport Village hires engineering firm for master plan, after trustees criticize process

On Tuesday, June 6, the Northport Village Board of Trustees debated a resolution to enter into an agreement with engineering firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis for professional environmental and planning services in the development of the Village’s master plan. The resolution passed 4-1, with Trustee Dave Weber voting against it for reasons related to the process – a sentiment that all other trustees agreed with and vocalized publicly at the meeting.

The resolution to hire the firm first appeared on the April 18 agenda, but the trustees asked Mayor Donna Koch to pull it and provide more time to review the proposal. Since then, the board met for a workshop, where the trustees received the proposal documents and more information from the Master Plan Committee, a group with members including Mayor Koch and her assistant Donald Tesoriero, Planning Board Chairperson Richard Boziwick, Zoning Board Chairperson Andy Cangemi, and Village Attorney Edward Gathman.

The committee has met frequently in the last year and in that time, viewed three presentations by engineering firms on their service proposals for the master plan, a layout and guide for future development and growth in commercial, marina and residential areas that hasn’t been updated by the Village in fifty years. The trustees voiced their concerns about transparency and communication by the committee, and asked to be more involved in the process.

The resolution authorizes services at a cost of $162,000, which includes the proposal for the master plan, along with other projects. The services for the master plan will cost $90,000, which will be covered by a grant and a mandatory $10,000 match by the Village. The remaining fund uses approved in the resolution have not been specified for the public.

“I believe that the hiring of services or getting proposals for the master plan was a flawed system,” Weber said before the board voted on the resolution. The trustee expressed concerns about whether each of three businesses hand-selected to submit proposals for the job were all asked the same questions by the committee to allow for fair judgment. “The trustees still have not received the scope of work for any of these projects,” Weber added, suggesting that as a governmental body, it isn’t fair to give some businesses an unfair advantage and the Village should have put out for a Request For Proposal (RFP) so that each firm was working off the same information. “My issue is not with the firm, my issue is with the process,” Weber said.

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