Great Neck Plaza Mayor Bob Rosegarten will not seek re-election come March 2000. After almost eight years as mayor, and 18 years on the board of trustees including 16 years as deputy mayor, Mayor Rosegarten is confident that he is leaving a ''healthy and vital'' village.
Great Neck Plaza Mayor Bob Rosegarten
Current Deputy Mayor Jean Celender will run for mayor, along with incumbent trustees Jay Ferkin and Joel Liebowitz. Neither Ms. Celender's term as trustee nor Ted Rosen's term as trustee is up in 2000. Should Ms. Celender win her bid for mayor, she will appoint a trustee to fill the remainder of her trustee term.
As for Mayor Rosegarten, he said that for the past six months he has been weighing whether or not to run again. ''I love this job...I've loved it since the first day I sat in Alan Gussack's chair,'' he told the Great Neck Record in a private lunch interview. Bob Rosegarten became mayor on July 1, 1992, following Mayor Gussack's death.
Mayor Rosegarten continued, stating, ''In 32 years of advertising, I never had this much satisfaction...It has been a joy, it's been a pleasure...It has been very fulfilling.''
One of the joys has been working with the public: ''My philosophy, like that of the board, has never been adversarial. We are here to serve the community.''
The first thing Mayor Rosegarten did when he took office was to initiate staff meetings, ''for the first time since 1930.'' Every Monday morning at 9:30, the mayor and the department heads meet, ''so everybody knows what's going on all over the village.'' This, said the mayor, has changed the philosophy of the village, permeating all departments. ''We're a service organization, like a company, and our product is service.'' With this new philosophy, ''with the help of the board, we attacked the job differently.''
Pondering whether or not to run, Bob Rosegarten thought, ''Are there any more windmills out there...?'' And, of course, he discussed his decision with his family---his three sons and his fiancee Doreen Rapoport. Bob and Doreen will be married this coming April 2 and they are building a house upstate.
Said Mayor Rosegarten, contemplating the future, ''No one said I would be bored...we're building a house...I never had a house before...we're healthy and I feel young and energetic and I can work around the house, do things myself...I'm never bored; I can paint and sculpt and travel...there's a whole other life out there for us...'' The new house will contain a large art studio for Bob Rosegarten, the artist. Doreen will continue to write children's books and the couple will maintain a Manhattan apartment too.
It has been a good run for Mayor Rosegarten and he feels very ''comfortable'' leaving the job to ''a group of people who run the village very, very well.'' Said the mayor, ''I always say, when you leave a room, walk out backwards, so you can be sure there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.''
And everything is in its place---the village is running well and the mayor is gratified leaving the village with the infrastructure in place and in good shape. ''We did the roads, the lights, and now we're working on the garages...the village is in good financial shape...there is only a 5 percent vacancy rate in stores, as opposed to 25 percent when I took office...there is only a 5 percent vacancy in office buildings...the prices of co-ops, condos and houses are at a high...we have wonderful village personnel in key spots and everyone is very enthusiastic,'' said a justifiably proud Mayor Rosegarten.
What will he miss most? ''Most of all,'' said Mayor Rosegarten, ''I will miss walking the village and having people come up to me and say, 'Mr. Mayor, the town looks terrific!' ''
With the downtown in wonderful shape, Mayor Rosegarten has also enjoyed all of the special projects---including the new Plaza website and designation as a White House Millennium Community---that take Great Neck Plaza right into the new millennium.
''For me the glass is always half full,'' says Bob Rosegarten, pleased with his past, looking forward to his future with joy.
For the rest of us---for his village, for the Great Neck peninsula, for this editor---the glass will be a bit empty without Mayor Rosegarten.