As weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable, how can small villages roll with the punches? For Lynbrook, all it takes is a little help from neighbors.
Laura Ryder, town councilwoman, founded the Lynbrook Cares Committee during her time as a village trustee. Together, the committee’s volunteers help dozens of local veterans and seniors with home maintenance, especially during snow events. Though those events have been few and far between in recent years, the Lynbrook Cares Committee remains at the ready.
“They’re ready to go,” Ryder said. “Everything is in place should we get a substantial snowstorm.”
Trustee Michael Habert has taken over the snow-related aspects of the operation coordinating a team of active volunteers, and has recruited four men with snow blowers to the ranks. To him, the Lynbrook Cares Committee represents the core of Lynbrook’s character.
“That’s the village I grew up in,” Habert said. “If you had an elderly person and it snowed, you shoveled.”
The committee, though, hasn’t had to shovel driveways and sidewalks in quite some time. Last week’s snowfall of a couple inches marked an end to a record 700-day streak of no snowfall for Long Island. The last time Lynbrook went two years without snowfall, Village Administrator John Giordano said, was 1999 to 2000.
It sometimes makes budgeting tricky — he and the other village representatives have had to field the winters as they come.
“It’s one of the most volatile accounts,” Giordano said of the budget for snow resources. “Most of our accounts are predictable.”
“The last 5 years have been the most volatile,” he added.
The village formulates the next year’s budget every March, forcing it to blindly predict what kind of resources they’ll need for the winter to come.
Their general rule of thumb, Giordano said, is to budget conservatively and hope for a mild winter, and make sure there are appropriate funds in the contingency budget in case of an emergency. The village only used that contingency once in the past decade.
The current village budget for snow removal is $33,000, but officials mitigated costs due to the complete lack of snow since February 2022. The village hasn’t purchased sand or salt in the past two years — the inventory they purchased before then is still keeping them going.
A sizeable chunk of the village’s money doesn’t go to those resources like salt, sand or snow plows, but rather to the people who deploy them. Lynbrook has a staff of 48 that remain on standby to plow the 40 miles of highway the village is responsible for, and has put aside nearly double the snow removal budget to pay for those workers’ potential overtime. But last year, the village needed less than three percent of that budget.
When the money for snow removal remains unused at the end of the fiscal year, it goes back into the budget to offset residents’ taxes.
However, if kids are still looking for an opportunity to make snow angels — or, of course, have a day off from school — there is still hope.
“For the snow lovers out there, it’s far too soon to write off this winter,” Dominic Rammuni, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said. “We are just entering the climatologically snowiest period of the year where Islip averages nearly 9 inches in January and another 10 inches in February, so plenty of winter to get through.”
There are “several opportunities on the horizon that could finally put an end to our nearly snowless stretch,” Rammuni reported.. He said that the jet stream has been positioned in a way that has been bringing storm after storm into the area. Now, all that is needed is some cold air from Canada to enter the country.
“I think odds are better than not that these players line up at least once or twice before the winter comes to a close,” Rammuni said.
In the meantime, though, the Lynbrook Cares Committee remains prepared. Habert has focused on getting other organizations — like the Boy Scouts, the Lynbrook Knights baseball team, and the high school’s Key Club — involved.
“We’re getting the kids — the young adults — getting them into giving back to the community, and doing service for people who need it,” Habert said.
Bringing his son to one of the volunteer snow shoveling outings, Habert said, was impactful for him. Doing something selfless for others — and seeing how his actions directly helped them — did him good, Habert said.
“It’s a folksy feel, but we want to do that,” Habert said. “That’s why we want to try to get the younger people involved — so they can get into that habit and then carry it on to the next generation.”
Those interested in joining the Lynbrook Cares Committee can call the village at (516) 599-8300.