In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Ocean-side seemed to be largely forgotten. The Long Island Power Authority took an inexcusably long time to begin restoring power here, and some of our elected officials seemed to be late to the game. If Governor Cuomo saw any of the damage in the area, it was through the windows of a moving vehicle as he was on his way to Long Beach.
It wasn’t until more than a week after the storm, when the Oceanside School District held a press conference, that people started paying attention to Oceanside. What the district did was great, and it helped shine a light on the community. But the school district’s responsibility is education, not holding rallies.
None of Oceanside’s current town and county representatives are from the area — Anthony Santino is from East Rockaway, Denise Ford is from Long Beach and Howard Kopel is from the Five Towns. Oceanside needs local leaders — representatives whose first priority will be Oceanside.
If Oceanside were a village, it would have elected officials of its own to speak on its behalf. A mayor and a Board of Trustees would do a better job of representing the community in times of crisis than our Town of Hempstead and Nassau County representatives.
No one seems to be in a hurry to incorporate, however. The idea was proposed in 2003, by then Legislator Jeff Toback. It never happened.
Consider the attention — and the resour-ces — that Island Park and Long Beach received in the aftermath of the storm. With local officials speaking up for them, residents were able to attract the attention of the media and officials higher up, donations have been coming in and those communities are well on their way to being fully functional once again.
Oceanside had to handle its recovery efforts on its own. There’s no question that the residents who have organized collections and the distribution of food and other necessities have been nothing short of amazing. But incorporation as a village would mean money for recovery and more organized efforts. Oceanside wouldn’t be forgotten.
In order to incorporate, a petition containing the signatures of 20 percent of the hamlet’s registered voters would have to be submitted to the Town of Hempstead. Then the town would hold a public hearing to determine whether the proposed incorporation followed New York state village law. If the petition were found to be sound, a referendum would be held in the community to vote for incorporation.
Of course, transforming Oceanside into a village would be neither easy nor without cost. It would need a village hall, a mayor and a Board of Trustees. The village would have to determine what services it would provide to residents and decide whether it wanted to keep the Oceanside Fire District and Sanitary District 7, or provide those services itself.
Incorporation wouldn’t be the answer to all of the problems Oceanside faced during and after Hurricane Sandy. But surely it is an idea worth considering for the future.