Story by A.J. Arias
The Warwick Town Board voted on Tues., May 8 to put the fate of the highly contended Carryout Bag Law in the hands of the people. The Carryout Bag Law would enact a five cent tax on all plastic bags with handles at the time of purchase with the exception of bags for produce, in hopes of limiting plastic in the ecosystem and reducing pollution.
Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said that the members of the Board took a great deal of time to look into the law. This included researching the environmental benefits, going to the local grocery stores and asking the people of Warwick how they felt about the proposed law. Sweeton said that what the Board came up with at the end of their research was that the Town was split, with people having strong opinions on both sides.
Supervisor Sweeton went on to say that the only fair way to settle the debate was to leave it up to the people and have them decide. This is only the second time that he is aware of that the Board has pushed something to a referendum.
A number of people in favor of the law spoke at the Board meeting stating their disappointment with the Board decision. They also want to know how the process will work. Several community members would have preferred that the Board make the decision as they have more expertise on the matter. They also told the Board that they would openly support the law when speaking to members of the community.
Supervisor Sweeton said it is the job of the Board to respond to questions but to remain neutral as the residents’ decides what they want. Sweeton additionally stated that putting the law to a referendum is not to avoid the repercussions of the decision but to provide an opportunity for the people to voice their opinion and decide for themselves on a law that will affect everyone.
Residents will decide whether or not to enact the Carryout Bag Law this November on Election Day on Tues., Nov. 6. The law will be printed in its entirety on the back of ballot.
Warwick to Recognize Emergency Medical Services Week
The Board passed a resolution stating that the Town will designate Emergency Medical Services Week from May 20 to May 26. Acknowledging the three active EMT services in the Town of Warwick and their record of excellent service, Sweeton said that it is a week to show appreciation to the all of the EMT volunteers.
The Town Warwick Becomes a Clean Energy Community
The Town of Warwick will receive a $5,000 grant for being recognized as a Clean Energy Community. The Town reached four of the ten criteria for the past year to become recognized for promoting clean energy. The change in designation was the result of work done by Bill Macausky, who started the conversation with the Town Supervisor about receiving the designation.
Watch Out For Utilities Bills Scam
Councilman James Gerstner alerted the crowd about a utilities bill scam being reported throughout the Town. The scam promises to pay off half of all utilities for citizens of Warwick. Gerstner wanted to let people know that the promise is a scam and that they should avoid it.
Wickham Lake to Be Assessed by Department of Conservation
Councilman Russell Kowal reported that Wickham Lake will be analyzed by the New York State Department of Conservation (D.E.C.). Kowal, who has been working with State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Karl Brabenec for over a year, has finally convinced the D.E.C. to assess the lake for fish life and to conduct a survey of the amount of species in the lake.
The assessment is much needed, according to Kowal, now that the lake is open to the public. The assessment began on Tues., May 8.
The next meeting of the Warwick Town Board will be held on Thurs., May 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Warwick Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick.