Board dissolves police commission

And in a move that surprised onlookers, police commissioner John Mertz ended the prolonged debate by seconding Marco's motion, which then passed unanimously.

Mertz's support of Marco's motion was surprising because, as the police commissioner, he had been the lightning rod for vocal opposition from officers that on occasion bordered on insubordinate. Also, by abolishing the commission, he ended his tenure as the town's top cop.

The vote to abolish the commission was greeted with sustained, enthusiastic applause.

After the vote, Mertz noted that town board became the de facto police commission, with Tommasone as police commissioner. He noted that the only thing that changed was that he would now be one vote out of five, compared to the one vote out of three he wielded in the abolished commission.

"Regardless of how many people are on the commission, I remain committed to public safety," Mertz said.

Councilman Joe Signore, another magnet for police ire, was met with heckling when he tried to smooth the water after Mertz spoke.

"The police commission was not created in any way to slight Chief Hamilton," said Signore.

Victory did not come without a wait, though, because the officers and their supporters had to sit through nearly three hours of presentations by various divisions of the public works department before the town board returned to the police commission debate.

The intricacies of municipal storm water and sanitary sewage separation (MS4) were discussed, along with remediation efforts and why they are important for the protection of drinking water.

Town planner Peter Commenza explained a number of grants that his office has applied for, such as ones for Kiwanis Park, an Exit 25 study of Hamburg Street and Curry Road, and a Brownfield grant that may pay to replace some aging buildings in the Rotterdam Industrial Park for the Galesi Group.

An elderly resident summed up the prevailing sentiment when he spoke during the public comment period of the meeting.

"I'd like to commend the board for putting on the best filibuster I've ever seen," said Jim Pardington to nearly universal applause.


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