SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The money came out of the blue — hundreds of thousands of dollars were earmarked to revitalize the main street of a Long Island town.
Leaders said they don’t want to be ingrates, it’s just that they never asked for the funding.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, taxpayers have questions.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Smithtown is baffled by its good fortune, which came in the form of a $200,000 windfall that landed in the lap of one of its hamlets; Kings Park.
“We were not aware of it. We never requested the money,” he said.
The grant is part of a $7.5-million county-wide economic stimulus package proposed by the county executive and passed by the legislature.
“The top priority of the country from an economic development perspective is to get young people moving into our region, which means we need vibrant downtowns,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Legislator Rob Trotta who represents Kings Park told CBS2 by phone that it’s a waste of money in a time of severe austerity.
“I think the county executive is hiding his head in the sand with the severe financial problems we are having,” Trotta said. “In a perfect world I’d love to do this, but we are flat, busted broke.”
Suffolk county residents also had questions about the best use of their tax dollars.
“The word ‘revitalize’ covers a lot. Does that mean hire somebody’s brother-in-law or other relatives?” one taxpayer asked.
Kings Park Civic Association leaders said they welcome the funding to study future parking and economic plans. Their downtown is struggling with a high vacancy rate, and needs major changes to attract new business.
“The county has been committed to helping us revitalize Kings Park,’ Linda Henninger said. “And the fact they put their money where their mouth is — something government doesn’t always do — is refreshing for us.”
Requested or not, the civic association is thrilled with news of the grant.