Ed Nabozny and Kathy Eldridge are facing off — for a second time — Nov. 7 to decide who will lead Greenport in the coming two years.
The Columbia County town of 4,000 broke away from the city of Hudson in 1837 because residents in the city’s outskirts didn’t want to pay taxes they felt were being directed to the city’s core, according to Greenport’s draft Comprehensive Plan, and Greenport has maintained its low-tax, conservative bent to this day. The town voted in favor of Donald Trump last year, who got 997 votes in the town compared to Hilary Clinton’s 804, according to the Columbia County Board of Elections.
As I tantalizingly suggested in the first paragraph, Nabozny and Eldridge have run against each other before. Both campaigned as part of the Independence Party, and faced off in the party’s Greenport primary Sept. 12. Eldridge won by a healthy margin, and is now running in the general election on the Independence, as well as Democratic and Working Families party lines, where she will be facing Nabozny, who is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines.
The turnout for the Independence primary was low, with only 56 residents casting votes, according to the Columbia County Board of Elections. The two will be facing a larger and wider spectrum of voters Nov. 7. Choose wisely.
Ed Nabozny was born in Hudson 68 years ago and is retired from the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, where he worked as an administrator for 30-plus years. He was elected Greenport Town Supervisor in 2011 and served two years before being defeated by John Porreca. He was elected again in 2015.
Nabozny listed some of his political accomplishments as bringing in the low 2018 tax increase of .94 percent; working on reconfiguring PILOT programs so future solar farms bring more money into the town; getting plans in place to build a sidewalk along part of Joslen Boulevard; cutting costs by sharing services with the county; and introducing a credit card system for making payments to the town.
Greenport also largely produced the town’s first Comprehensive Plan during Nabozny’s tenure, which lays out the future of Greenport’s development. The plan is set to be adopted in the coming months after potentially going through minor alterations, Nabozny said.
Kathy Eldridge was born on Milo Street in Greenport in 1956, and said she works as the administrator for a nursing facility in Greene County. She has run for the Greenport’s Town Board in the past, but has not yet held political office.
In two separate interviews, Eldridge attacked Nabozny for being unresponsive to Greenport residents’ needs, and said Greenport needed change.
“It is time for a change…Greenport needs to move forward,” she said. “It’s just stagnant right now. The current supervisor has just left Greenport stagnant…let’s move forward.”
Nabozny has made several steps to improve the sewer infrastructure over the last two years, he said, including implementing an “inspection system” to make sure grease traps in eateries are cleaned so the oils won’t congeal in the sewage system and block lines.
He also implemented residential inspections to stop people from directing sump pumps and drains into sewers, and got the town to pay for backflow preventers for residents who could prove they had a history of sewage backups in their homes. Eldridge received one of the backflow preventers, and she said her experience dealing with the town government after sewage flooded her basement two years ago partially stimulated her run for office.
The county has plans in the works to pipe sewage from the Gerald R. Simmons Commercial Park in West Ghent to Greenport. The park’s own system has been discharging water that fails state Department of Environmental Conservation standards, according to The Columbia Paper.
Eldridge is vehemently against the project, claiming Greenport smells of sewage and that bringing more sewage into town would exacerbate the problem. She also finds issue with a section of the draft Comprehensive Plan, largely written while Nabozny was in office, which plans to accommodate more businesses along Fairview Avenue in northern Greenport.
“In the Comprehensive Plan that was just laid out by Greenport, [it] talks about building up northern Greenport, which would need the sewer,” she said. “So there’s already an existing problem — how do you bring…anything else in until you fix what you’ve got. Because you’re only going to create more more smell.”
The plan to connect the commercial park’s system to the Greenport Wastewater Plant would still have to go through various state approvals to move forward, Nabozny said, adding there were “misconceptions” about the project and how Greenport’s sewage system worked.
“Our plant is a state-of-the-art plant which can accept 1.3 million gallons of sewage a day,” he said. “Right now, we’re doing less than 600,000 a day.”
If Greenport’s wastewater plant accepted sewage from the commercial park, it would only add 75,000 more gallons a day, Nabozny said.
Furthermore, the sewage wouldn’t even go through Greenport’s system, but would be piped directly into the wastewater plant in a line constructed as part of the project, he added.
The town would receive money as part of the potential agreement, Nabozny said, lessening the burden on Greenport residents who are part of the town’s sewer district.
Greenport Gardens, a 66-unit affordable housing development, did not have sufficient road infrastructure to be built, Eldridge said.
The development sits to the side of Joslen Boulevard, a 30 MPH residential road.
The state Department of Transportation allocated $250,000 to Greenport years ago to build a sidewalk on Joslen Boulevard, Nabozny said, but the plan was “kickstarted” while he was in office, and the money from the state was bumped up to $1.2 million due to higher contemporary building costs.
The plan is in its design phase, and a sidewalk stretching from near the Hudson High School to the Greenport Town Park was set to be completed by 2019, Nabozny said, who added the town would take care of the snow-blowing of the sidewalk.
Eldridge took issue with the sidewalk not going the entire length of Joslen Boulevard, saying “the northern end of Joslen Boulevard will still suffer.”
When asked if she would attempt to pursue additional grants to extend the sidewalk if elected, Eldridge responded, “I’m going to look at what’s going to be done.”
Eldridge said residents in northern Greenport complain about brown water exiting their faucets.
“It just runs brown, a coffee color,” she said. “We can’t wash in it, you can’t do laundry, you can’t make coffee in the morning [or] brush your teeth.”
Eldridge said she had “solutions” to the brown water.
“I’ve spoken with officials — I’ve investigated a lot of this, and I’ve got the answers,” she said.
When asked what the answers were, Eldridge refused to elaborate.
“I won’t talk about that now…All the information that I have, it’s like playing poker,” she said. “You keep the cards close to your chest.”
Brown water in some parts of Greenport’s northern half was “an issue,” Nabozny said, but said it was being addressed.
“It’s never ignored,” he said. “We get repots of brown water, [we] check it out.”
Brown water was sometimes the result of the town flushing fire hydrants for maintenance purposes, Nabozny said, adding it would be ideal to replace the entirety of Greenport’s water system, but that it was cost-prohibitive.
The town was slowly replacing some of the older water mains, Nabozny said, as well as “sliplining” many of the towns water pipes — coating the insides with a thin, tough shell to prevent water from leaking in or out.
Eldridge said she wanted to engage more residents in the governmental process, especially at Town Board Meetings.
“There’s not a lot of residents that come to town board meetings — I want standing room only,” she said. “Town Board Meetings should be informational, [and] tell you what’s happening, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it.”
She said she would try to stimulate more media coverage of the board meetings and have an open dialogue at the end of each meeting.
There was already time set aside at the end of each meeting for a dialogue, Nabozny said.
“Every meeting we communicate…we have an open meeting,” he said. “We have a give-and-take at the end of the meeting [and] everybody has a chance to ask questions — if we don’t have the answer then, we get back to them.”
As a retiree, Nabozny said his position in the town was his full-time occupation, and his door was always open.
Voting information can be found here.