Riverhead Town, Southampton Town and Riverhead Central School District need to work together if we are to address the growing population of students in our school. School district boundaries set at the state level are not the same as town boundaries.
I urge all to participate in the discussion on a proposed bond for $100 million to improve school facilities and to attend the hearings before the final vote in January.
As I walk door-to-door, I hear your concerns about the bond proposal and overcrowded housing. Affordable housing in Riverhead and on the East End is not a new issue nor is it one with an easy answer.
Code enforcement is key to addressing the issue of greedy landlords who see fit to rent out their properties beyond the permitted capacity as set by New York State code. I support Supervisor Jens-Smith’s proposal to take a hard line against these landlords that ignore our codes by imposing fines up to $10,000 per day for allowing these unsafe, unsanitary and potential fire hazards to exist.
Upon reviewing New York State codes, I learned that as times have changed so has what is considered a “family” and what defines an overcrowded home. The number of people permitted to live in a home as per the New York State code is determined by the number of bedrooms not their relationship. A three-bedroom home with sufficient square footage can have nine unrelated people occupy the home. This applies to both rentals and owner-occupied homes.
We are bound by law and morals to educate the children in our district. We need to be diligent in educating our children, addressing overcrowded housing and having safe, affordable housing. We must work with adjacent towns to ensure children attending our schools live within the district.
The towns and school district need to keep an open line of communication to support to each other. As a town board candidate, with three children in the school district, I assure you this issue is one of my top priorities, and I will work hard to address these issues and support our supervisor to achieve results.
Diane Tucci is a Democratic candidate for Riverhead Town Board. She lives in Riverhead.