Claims of commitment to municipalization


The newly created North Shore Water Authority began the historical process of municipalization of its water during its inaugural meeting May 25 at the North Shore High School Library on May 25.
For decades, residents of Sea Cliff, a large section of Glen Head and parts of Glenwood Landing, Old Brookville and Roslyn Harbor have had to pay exceptionally high rates for water to New York American Water. After years of work by groups like North Shore Concerned Citizens, NYAW’s parent company American Water Works Co. was forced to sell ownership of NYAW.
The sale came with the understanding that the afflicted villages and towns would have the opportunity to buy back control of their own water or municipalize it. In order to do that, the communities would need their own representation and governing authority, thus leading to the formation of the North Shore Water Authority.
The NSWA consists of a six-person board representing each of the six communities. Each board member was appointed to their positions by their respective municipal governments and will alternate as meeting chair.
The members include James Versocki of Sea Cliff, George Pombar of Glen Head, Jaime Greenberg of Glen Cove, Richard Arena of Glenwood Landing, John Vasilakis of Old Brookville, and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor of Roslyn Harbor.

Agatha Nadel of Glen Head, a founding member of NSCC and a strong voice in the fight against NYAW, attended the Water Authority’s first meeting, along with numerous other veterans of NSCC. Nadel made it clear just how much was at stake for the Water Authority and expressed how little trust community groups like NSCC have in the water companies.
“I hope you guys take this job seriously, because it’s not just a stepping stone for another appointment or something, you guys are here to get it done,” Nadel said. “I’m trusting you guys, but I’m telling you this isn’t going to be easy and I’m telling you to watch your backs with this company.”
Other communities on Long Island have already municipalized or begun to municipalize their water. Massapequa has operated its own water district since 1931, and earlier this year also began seeking to terminate their contract with Liberty Utilities.
Stan Carey, former superintendent of the Massapequa Water District, made a surprise appearance at the meeting, commending the involved communities for their historic step forward in taking back control of their water. Carey, who also serves on the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council and continues to work with the MWD, also offered his experience if the NSWA’s members ever needed help or advice.
“I’d like to congratulate the board tonight, and all of the community members who made this happen,” Carey said. “It is truly a historic night, and it begins a long history, hopefully, for your community of getting good water rates here.”
NSWA was created after a bill was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last November. The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Jim Gaughran and Assemblyman Chuck Lavine, empowers several municipalities to take control of their water.
As part of its creation, the NSWA will receive $1 million from the state government to enable them to function as an economic entity. Local taxpayers can rest easy knowing that this money will not be coming out of their checkbooks.
Before they can receive the money, however, NSWA must begin negotiations with Liberty, and must organize itself into a functioning government office, including the hiring of employees and conducting research. To that end, board members began by organizing themselves into four three-man committees, each with their own roles, responsibilities and chairs.
The Finance Committee, chaired by Vasilakis, will oversee the management and distribution of the authority’s money, while the Negotiations Committee, chaired by Versocki, will negotiate directly with Liberty Utilities. The Personnel Committee, chaired by Pombar, will be in charge of hiring employees, and the Water Health and Safety Committee, chaired by Kapoor, will study and report on chemical levels and changes in the water.
Versocki, who served as chair of the first meeting, spoke of the NSWA’s dedication to moving the deal forward, and that they understand the enormous responsibility they have to the community.
“I think we all go into this recognizing we have a very large mandate from the community to pursue municipalization,” Versocki said. “We obviously have a duty to do our due diligence, to make sure this board makes the correct decision. We don’t prejudge what will happen.”