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  • Thank You!

    Dear Friends,

    During my campaign for Borough President I have said repeatedly that, if elected, I look forward to using my position in Borough Hall as an instrument of good to help the entire Staten Island community.

    Thanks to your help and support, I am deeply honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be your Borough President starting in January.

    From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for your help and for your votes on November 5.

    I am ready to get to work.

    Jim Oddo
    Borough President-Elect
  • Staten Island Advance endorses James Oddo for borough president

    Because of term limits, James Oddo, with 14-plus years of outstanding service behind him, is prohibited from running for the City Council in his beloved Mid-Island district again this year.

    No matter. The people in his old 51st District and all over Staten Island, for that matter, can elect him to serve them as the next borough president of Staten Island.

    We urge them to do just that on Tuesday. Yes, voters do have a choice in this race: Party stalwart Lou Liedy is the Democratic candidate. That’s as it should be.

    But for many residents of this borough who have witnessed Mr. Oddo’s dedication to his job, it’s a no-brainer.

    Seldom has an electoral choice been so easy. Mr. Oddo has been a highly effective, influential member of the City Council since he first took over for his former boss, John Fusco, in 1999. He delves into issues until he knows them better than anyone and he has acquired the knack of working across party lines for the benefit of his constituents and, indeed, all New Yorkers.

    His superb leadership and yeoman work in the harrowing days and weeks after Hurricane Sandy were perhaps his finest hour, and a fitting coda to the first phase of what has been a stellar, if still emerging, career.

    But that is only one of his accomplishments.

    He also recently fought for and got passed, over the objections of the Bloomberg administration, a bill mandating more frequent Staten Island Ferry service and he has been at the fore of the battle to save Mount Manresa from development.

    His willingness to take on a parish priest who has taken up the cause of defending the Jesuits’ top-dollar sale of the property is typical of Mr. Oddo’s style. His priority is the people, not protocol.

    This is a borough that often has to battle to make itself heard at the higher levels of government, and Staten Islanders have always been able to take comfort in the knowledge that they can have no more resolute champion than James Oddo to fight on their behalf.

    Now, the hard-charging, blunt-speaking Mr. Oddo seeks an office he rightly describes as “personality-driven.” We don’t mean to foreclose his future career options in the slightest, but we will say that he was born to be Staten Island’s borough president.

    The post suits him so well because he gravitates to the nuts-and-bolts, problem-solving aspects of government.

    And he has the boundless energy, robust bipartisan spirit and profound dedication to public service that the office requires. Those traits will serve this borough well for the next four or (more likely) eight years.

    That’s not to take anything away from his opponent, Democrat Lou Liedy, who has waged a commendably thoughtful campaign.

    The easygoing challenger and long-time Democratic Party activist hasn’t wasted the electorate’s time trying to pin fictional failures on Mr. Oddo.

    Instead, he offers sound ideas on issues of importance to Staten Island, such as his proposal that the city Department of Transportation buy smaller, faster ferries for use overnight. His commonsense perspective on the Wheel/Empire Outlets project is welcome, as well.

    Still, for us, Mr. Oddo is the clear-cut choice.

    We expect that many Staten Island voters will agree on Tuesday.

    Then, we get to stand back, and watch him go to work.

  • Calm prevails at meeting on teen detention facility proposed for Staten Island (SI Advance)

    From Kiawana Rich of the Staten Island Advance

    About 200 Staten Islanders are voicing their concerns at a meeting now under way on the controversial city juvenile detention facility proposed for Willowbrook.

    Those assembled at Young of Israel of Staten Island in Willowbrook are said to be composed, despite an undercurrent of tension. There has been no yelling or displays of temper.

    City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn), state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island), who organized the meeting, are credited with keeping things calm.

    Many of the comments have to do with security and property values.

    The synagogue is in the same neighborhood as the proposed facility.

    Cusick and Oddo are on the record that they are against the plan.

    “We know we are firmly against the current proposal,” Cusick said Sunday at a legislative breakfast at Young Israel, noting Thursday’s meeting would be held “to discuss how to move forward.”

    Said Oddo of tonight’s meeting: “Assemblyman Cusick and I want to update the community on our efforts to stop this misguided placement.”

    Under the city’s “Close to Home” initiative, teenagers convicted of crimes would be sent to a “limited secure” facility at 1133 Forest Hill Rd., a residential area not far from Young Israel.

    The proposal has caused heated opposition, including at a stormy Community Board 2 meeting.

    Among the objections is the fact that just one in 10 Staten Islanders is part of the “Close to Home” program, meaning primarily teen offenders from other boroughs would be sent here.

    GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota on Sunday turned thumbs-down on the proposal during a Sunday appearance at Young Israel.

    Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/ Brooklyn) has called the proposal a “non-starter.”

    The elected officials said tonight’s meeting will continue as long as necessary.

  • City strikes deal for development of Staten Island’s Farm Colony, closed for decades (SI Advance)

    From Mark Stein of the Staten Island Advance:

    The city has struck a deal with a developer to resurrect a handful of decaying landmarked buildings on a property abandoned nearly four decades ago.

    The old Farm Colony in Sea View is on the verge of undergoing a transformation that will turn the fenced-off, unkempt and vandalized grounds into Landmark Colony, a senior citizen community that will include approximately 300 units in a historic and environmentally friendly setting, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

    The 46-acre section of the site will be developed by NFC Associates, LLC, with a total investment of $91.7 million. The buying entity is manned by Raymond Masucci, who constructed The Tides, a residential senior community in Charleston seven years ago.

    A formal announcement is being made by EDC president Kyle Kimball and City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) Friday morning on the grounds along Brielle Avenue.

    Five of the 11 buildings dating from 1904-1931 on the Farm Colony land are slated to be rehabilitated for occupancy, with one for mixed use — residential and a community center — and another for storage and utilities. A sixth building will be stabilized and turned into a green house and garden. The remaining five buildings will be demolished in consultation and with the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

    Approximately 30 period-inspired carriage houses are also set to be built on the grounds.

    The winning proposal was selected following a “request for expression of interest” issued in spring 2012. According to the EDC, the concept was a perfect fit for the site located in a protected historic district and a special nature area district because of its previous use as the New York City Farm Colony and the property’s proximity to the Staten Island Greenbelt, respectively.

    “After decades of vacancy and multiple attempts to reactivate this historic site, the former Farm Colony now stands to transform into a thriving area that will complement the surrounding communities,” said Kimball. “The special character of this site demands a plan that exhibits sensitivity to its extraordinary history and draws inspiration from the surrounding landscape. We are confident that, thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of Council Member Oddo, the Landmark Colony will honor Staten Island’s past, provide housing for seniors, and create an exciting new opportunity for the borough’s future.”

    Oddo had fought to bring life to the property since taking office in 1999.

    “I’d drive by and these buildings would taunt me,” he said of the 14-year struggle — “swings and misses” — that included a potential suitor for the property in Globe Institute of Technology in 2007. The deal fell apart before it was ever consummated when the school lost some of its federal funding.

    With the 65-and-older population in the borough projected to increase to 103,000 by 2030 — for what will be a 100 percent increase from 2000 — Oddo said the development is critically important.

    Oddo said this gives Staten Islanders not wanting to leave the Island for similar communities an incredible housing option. The councilman also said this project eliminates high-density housing and the possibility of all of the landmarked buildings being destroyed.

    “This guarantees that [the city] puts something there that benefits the community, that the community needs,” said Oddo.

    A 188-bed assisted living facility called The Brielle at Seaview is in the works across from Farm Colony, and another 104-unit complex for senior citizens, Park Lane at Sea View, is located on the campus of nearby Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home.

    The city has owned the property since the 19th century, according to Advance archives. It served as a community where the poor were housed and taught various skills. By 1975, the wooded 98-acre Farm Colony was abandoned and its historic buildings were left to the vandals, squatters and the elements.

    A groundbreaking expected to begin in the fall of 2016 will follow the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

    The project will create 250 construction jobs and 41 permanent jobs, said the EDC.

  • Staten Island Republican candidates pitch high-tech plan to keep borough clean

    From Tom Wrobleski of the Staten Island Advance:

    Staten Island Republicans running for office this year are looking to keep the borough, including its railway system, clean and are looking to the Internet to help them do it.

    Appearing at the Eltingville station of the Staten Island Railway, City Councilmen James Oddo and Vincent Ignizio, along with Mid-Island Council candidate Steven Matteo, on Thursday announced a three-prong strategy to beautify communities across the borough.

    “We know litter begets more litter,” said Oddo (R-Mid-Island), who is running for borough president. “We have to figure out a better way of keeping Staten Island clean. Our plan would help keep our communities cleaner.”

    It starts with working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to create an Adopt-A-Train Station program, which would encourage local businesses to keep rail stops free of debris in exchange for allowing the stores to display limited advertising at the stations they’ve adopted.

    The three pitched the idea to the MTA last week.

    A $20,000 allocation made through Oddo’s Council office will be used as part of a pilot program to keep a private firm on call to clean up problematic locations across the borough. A Request for Proposals will be issued in conjunction with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce to find a suitable company. Having a mobile team will allow resources to be quickly directed to problematic locations, they said.

    The Republicans said that they would look to use technology to also help Islanders report trouble areas using their mobile devices, pointing to the Citizens Connect app in Boston and the SeeClickFix app.

    The apps allow citizens to be the “eyes and ears” of a city, reporting everything from litter and potholes to graffiti and damaged street signs, around the clock.

    Ignizio (R-South Shore), who is running for re-election, said “it is incumbent on government to be a part of the solution. Our innovative proposals will help keep our communities cleaner.”

    Matteo, Oddo’s chief of staff, is looking to succeed his boss in the Council. He said the Island litter problem became more noticeable after the closing of Arthur Kill Correctional Facility and elimination of the prison’s “clean teams.”

    He said, “Litter is a black eye to our neighborhoods that diminishes our quality of life. We have to work together to fight this ugliness.”

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