Prior to getting down to business at the city council meeting of Tuesday, Nov. 28, Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi, who has often proclaimed his loathing toward litter, told the audience that the mayor's office has recently sent letters to all city merchants asking them to try to better maintain their property and to be aware of, and do away with, litter. He said the city would like to recognize those merchants and/or landlords who do an exceptional job with a certificate of distinction. Tuesday's recipients were JoAnne and Alan Cygielman, proprietors of Blonde on Blonde Hair and Tea Salon in Village Square. Not only do the Cygielmans keep a clean street, the mayor said, they also enhance the property by planting shrubs and flowers, and having an inviting storefront.
Pictured with the Golden Broom are Glen Cove City Councilmembers Joe Gioino, Nick DiLeo and Joan Meehan, Diane Beecher, Rita Demmler, Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi, honorees JoAnne and Alan Cygielman, Francine Ferrante and Councilmembers Mike Norman, Tim Tenke and Tony Jimenez.
With pomp, ceremony and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, the recognition to Blonde on Blonde continued as the Glen Cove Beautification Commission began its part of what promises to be a new and enjoyable tradition. Rita Demmler, chairwoman of Beautification (known in some circles as "Beauty Queen") and Diane Beecher, executive director of Beautification, presented its first ever Golden Broom Award to the Cygielmans. Ms. Demmler thanked the couple for "sweeping us off our feet." Francine Ferrante, executive director of the Downtown BID, presented the honorees with the BID's Good Neighbor Award. For the record, the broom was purchased locally, at Charles of Glen Cove Hardware.
The business portion of the meeting was short, and public comments began. Not surprisingly, many of the questions and/or statements addressed the Glen Cove waterfront project. There were many familiar residents, and quite a few new ones, to voice their opinions for and against the proposal as it currently stands. Added to the usual subjects, discussion about the Glen Isle Partners' DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement), submitted just days ago to the city's planning board, was on the minds of many.
Stan Levine commented to Mayor Suozzi that the mayor is in a sensitive position, noting that he is part of the family "that has led the way to help shape the city as we now know it today." Stating that he knows the mayor, along with the citizenry of Glen Cove, wants what is best for the city, he suggested the mayor keep his "ear to the ground and [his] eye to the pitfalls. This is a tall responsibility," said Mr. Levine, "not to be taken lightly." He questioned what happened to the original plan for the city's waterfront that has now "put the city in a tizzy." Comparing the revitalization to a new baby, he named as parents the mayor, city council, Glen Isle and concerned residents.
Jadwiga Brown, a Sea Cliff resident with a business in Glen Cove, said that she has considered Glen Cove more "an extension of my hometown" and for 28 years has watched the city decline. While she used to be able to do almost all her shopping in Glen Cove and Sea Cliff, she said, there is no longer much shopping available and said she would like to come for "more than a movie and a meal." She has watched the waterfront cleanup, she said, and now has seen things come to a halt. She suggested the city "rethink the waterfront... and allow the process to proceed."
Lindsay Anderson complimented the mayor on his recent budget presentation and remarked that if residents had had such transparency before this administration, the city might not be in the "fiscal mess it is now." He also encouraged residents to attend pre-council meetings, which are open to the public to observe, in order to see how much work the mayor and city council do before a public meeting.
There was also talk of the city's new Master Plan, about which a meeting was held on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and the current moratorium placed on residential sub-divisions. Mayor Suozzi continued to remind people that, while the three subjects are intertwined, all have their own purpose and efforts.
Brandon Palanker, executive vice president of the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce and Glen Isle's director of community affairs, reiterated some of the project's history, beginning with the vision of former Mayor Thomas R. Suozzi, continued by former Mayor Mary Ann Holzkamp and now before Mayor Ralph Suozzi. He stated that the past 10 years have been "more than enough time for people to learn and know" the plan, commenting that none of it has happened overnight. He added that "this is not just change; it is progress."
On a side note, Mr. Palanker referenced the last city council meeting, at which Councilman Mike Norman was "hammered" by some residents for the fiscal decisions made by the council over the past decade. He said that the city council makes decisions as a group, and no one member need take responsibility or blame. Mr. Norman thanked Mr. Palanker for his comments and for recognizing all that the city council has gone through for what he called "the most meaningful project in Glen Cove."
Councilman Joe Gioino remarked the city council worked hard to get the waterfront cleaned up and to pick a developer to bring the revitalization to fruition. With the submission of the DEIS, the councilman said, things are at the point where the planning board will have to look at it and decide how the project will affect traffic, if it will fit in with the character of the city and ascertain what would be the correct mix of residential and commercial components.
Lisa Cohn, a 30-year resident, said that over the years she has seen "good things turn to disasters and disasters get fixed." She expressed concern regarding the MW-3 zoning change which allowed for a residential component at the waterfront, and is concerned that if the zoning is changed again through the city's new master plan, the city could be in jeopardy of having a lawsuit brought against it [by the developers]. If that happened, she said, and Glen Cove lost the suit, "[the city] will lose a lot of money. If we win, we still lose, because no one will develop an area where a former developer lost a lawsuit."
The question of the EPA, DEC, DOH and each agency's assessment of "clean" land at the waterfront connected to the health and safety of potential residents and people who will work on the land, was again raised, as it is at every meeting. City Attorney Dan Deegan explained that the cleanup project is still in its early stages, and that nothing can be signed or allowed to happen without official approval of the government agencies mentioned above, among others.
Resident Gail Waller, however, took to the podium to state that a group of residents have "done a lot of work" on the history of the land, and stated that the EPA was never asked to check the land for the possibility of residential use. "Do not pull the wool over the public's eyes," she said. "It is not clean down there. The area was never meant to be used as residential." She said the city would need a new ROD from the DEC if the developer decides to clean further. "Our concern is environmental," she added.
Don Monti, a principal in Glen Isle, took to the microphone, and, perhaps in response to his last time addressing the city council, commented that he has come to the conclusion that "This is not the forum for me to express my feelings about the waterfront," citing his reason as "too much emotion." He used his time to announce the opening of a Glen Isle information office "right across the street from city hall," which, he said, would be a forum for residents to come and ask questions and get information "whether they are pro, con, or unsure about the project."
"This can all be done," he said. "It's just a question of how and when." He added that since he does development of this type all the time, he has a great amount of information to help in making better decisions. He made what he called a "plea" to Mayor Suozzi to meet "anytime, any place. We all want to see the waterfront project move forward, but you, as mayor, and I, as the developer, must meet and talk openly," he said.