We will miss the Brookville Taxpayers Association
Regrettably, the Brookville Taxpayers Association is defunct. On 8/12/2021, the VRP was informed by former BTA treasurer Perry Goldberg that the organization has been defunct for twelve (12) years. Local government officials and persons from other non-profit organizations were unaware of this, although they noted that the BTA had been inactive. By all accounts, there is no other civic association operating in Brookville or the adjacent villages. The disposition of the BTA’s considerable fund balance is an open question and is a matter of dispute, with attorneys involved. We will keep you informed of any changes to that situation. as they occur.
While the VRP is a political action committee and does not duplicate the functions of a civic association, we appear to be the only local organization that could plausibly play an independent, private-sector role in issues affecting the local community, at present. Nevertheless, because of the great differences in the two types of organization, civic association and PAC, we will not claim to be the successor organization. Rather, we would urge the local residents to form a new organization. We welcome contacts from persons interested in restarting the BTA or in forming an all new civic association. We will provide you with every possible assistance in doing so. We have set up a signup sheet for persons wishing to assist in the process.
Background and History
The Brookville Taxpayers Association, Inc. is (was) a civic association. It was founded in 1958 in the Village of Brookville. From its founding until ceasing operations circa 2009, it served a local, dues-paying membership. Initially, members were drawn from the residents of the Village of Brookville. In the late 1980’s, the BTA expanded into the Villages of Upper Brookville and Old Brookville.
Most civic groups concern themselves with rather minor, local issues. By comparison, the BTA confronted a long list of formidable issues that posed quite a challenge to a group of part-time volunteers who were funded by voluntary memberships from about half the households in a single village.
- One of the first issues was the threat to the semi-rural way of life posed by the founding of a large commuter school, C. W. Post College of Long Island University. Monitoring village government relations with that behemoth was always a key item on the organization’s agenda.
- The BTA played a key role in stopping the proposed “Tri-Campus Road,” which was intended to feed traffic to the State University of New York at Old Westbury, New York Institute of Technology and Post College, effectively interconnecting the campuses. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of cars would have been involved and a massive expansion of the campuses would probably have followed.
- The BTA was the lead plaintiff in court challenges to massive condominium complexes proposed for the Underhill Property, opposite Jerich High School. The projects that were ultimately built were of much lower density than those proposed by builders Gilbert Tilles and Elliot Monter. This was the BTA’s biggest undertaking and the expense nearly bankrupted the organization.
- The Canon Corporation sought to turn the former Winston Guest estate, which was then part of the New York Institute of Technology and was known as the deSeversky Conference Center, into an office complex. A major dispute ensued. The Japanese corporate headquarters was involved and, apparently, was embarrassed by the negative publicity. The proposal was withdrawn and the village mayor who supported it, Mike Galgano, left office not long afterward. The BTA played a major role, as did the Village Residents Party, which was formed at that time for the purpose of defeating the Canon proposal by running insurgent candidates against the incumbent village government.
Green Grass and High Tide
The BTA’s role in the Monter / Tilles cases elevated it to the status of one of the most powerful civic organizations on Long Island. The expansion into Upper and Old Brookville, accompanied by a major fundraising push overseen by a particularly diligent treasurer, transformed the organization from near bankruptcy to great prosperity. The organization controlled sums of money that were quite unusual for a small non-profit. Our auditors were impressed. Other organizations asked us to assist them with their projects. The BTA assisted the organization “Don’t Dump on Glen Cove” in a successful fight to stop the construction of a garbage transfer station in Glen Cove, which would have brought a great deal of garbage truck traffic to Cedar Swamp Road and Glen Cove Road. The BTA assisted the organization “Coalition to Protect Hempstead Harbor” in the successful fight to prevent the expansion of the Roslyn garbage incinerator. The BTA supported the “Long Island Pine Barrens Society” and others. Even the suggestion that the BTA was opposed to a given project was a powerful deterrent to persons who were considering undertakings that were not in the best interests of our villages.
The Tide Turned
Several of the BTA’s officers ran for elected village office in the late 1980’s. Many of the residents saw that as a conflict of interest and the BTA slate was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin. The incumbent Galgano / Goodwin regime was returned to office, although they were dogged by allegations of corruption that continued to the ends of their political careers. They urged their supporters to boycott the BTA and the graph above shows that they had some effect, with about 80 to 100 Brookville members leaving the organization. The Goodwin / Galgano gang was annoyed that the new members from the expansion villages more than made up for the losses. Mike Galgano’s letter of resignation contained several profuse assurances that the persistent allegations against him had nothing to do with his resignation.
Shortly thereafter, the BTA treasurer formed a separate, village-level, political action committee – the Village Residents Party . The intention was to run fully independent candidates without the perception of conflict of interest. The BTA candidates were enraged, believing that the right to challenge the Goodwin / Galgano gang was theirs and theirs alone. They contacted local residents and urged them not to support the VRP. Litigation ensued. The impact on active members of the two organizations was lasting and bitter. The BTA never really recovered. After a second, even more futile run at village office by BTA officers, sentiment turned against the BTA.
A Few Files, for Background and reference:
“Keep Brookville Beautiful”