The details became publicly available in a document titled “Bellmore and Merrick Proposed Projects,” which was posted to the NYRCRP website, www.stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr. Joe Baker, co-chairman of the Bellmore-Merrick Planning Committee and president of the South Merrick Community Civic Association, said that while the committee voted to choose these projects, the “Bellmore and Merrick Proposed Projects” document online is not the final version that the committee will submit to the state for review and funding approval. He said the committee may need to further tweak some project details, and that the committee would meet Tuesday night this week, after press time, to finalize its plan before a submission deadline of March 28.
The meeting Tuesday night, at the Merrick Road Park golf course clubhouse, was not included on a list of upcoming meetings of community planning committees around the state on the NYRCRP website. The Herald learned of the meeting by calling Baker. He said the committee’s vote to choose the above projects over dozens of other proposals discussed in committee meetings between September and March came last week at another Merrick Road Park clubhouse meeting. As with several committee meetings in the last six months, there was no public notice of the meeting before it took place.
Bob Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said court precedent has held that the state’s Open Meetings Law, which requires that public notice be given before meetings of state bodies sanctioned in law, such as school boards, does not apply to the meetings of bodies that the governor created by executive order, as was the case with the NYRCRP’s planning committees.
“For better or for worse — again, certainly these committees could hold open meetings — but based upon case law, at least as I understand the situation, the Open Meetings Law would not apply,” Freeman said. “They would not be compelled to comply with that statute.”