In addition to the previously announced candidacy of Bonnie-Lynne Gould for election to the Manhasset-Lakeville Water and Fire Districts Board of Commissioners, two Manhasset men, Brian Kenny and Bernard Rolston, have declared their candidacy for the one open seat.
Brian Kenny is a lifelong resident of the area and has been a member of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department since 1960. He believes that it is time to change some of the practices of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water Districts. One change he advocates is the separation of the two districts. "The Water District is overwhelmed with its work load," he says, citing the increasingly onerous environmental regulations and the amount of construction the district has engaged in in recent years. In earlier days, according to Kenny, many of the employees of the water district, which is located on East Shore Road in Thomaston, were also volunteer firemen. That number has decreased dramatically.
In fact, he says, making his next point, the number of volunteer firemen who can respond in a timely manner to a fire call has decreased to a dangerous point. In the 1960s, Kenny says, there were 12 firemen from Company #1 (Bayview Avenue, Manhasset) who were within a few minutes running distance and 16 from Company #2 who were within a few minutes driving distance. He contends that because the volunteers are no longer able to get to the fire houses as quickly as they once did, the response time of Manhasset-Lakeville to fire calls is unacceptably slow. Again, according to Kenny, the average response time of Company #5 (New Hyde Park) is seven minutes, much too slow. He stresses that he is not criticizing the volunteers, whom he admires and praises highly, but he believes that the system must change. He recommends a system in which a full crew of four to six firefighters would be in the fire house around the clock. He would then develop a "call-pay" system, through which firemen would be paid a stipend when they respond to a call.
As to how such a system would be paid for, Kenny says that the department spends too much money on "equipment we don't need" and on the maintenance of that equipment. He believes that there have been developments in fire fighting equipment that could produce greater efficiency for less money. According to Kenny, Manhasset-Lakeville responded to 1157 calls last year, of which 977 came from automatic alarms, some of them false alarms.
When he first considered running for commissioner two years ago he realized that although he was familiar with the Fire Department, he needed education on the workings of the Water Department. Since then he has attended 72 public board meetings.
Brian Kenny is married and the father of two young sons. He presently owns Long Island Festival Catering Company, the second largest outdoor catering business in the New York area. He was the driving force for moving the SCA Fair to Munsey Park and has donated both his equipment and his employees' time to the event for 21 years. He is a member of St. Mary's Church, the National Outdoor Businessmen's Association and the Nassau County Firemen's Association.
Bernard Rolston has been a resident of Manhasset for more than 13 years. He is a graduate of Manhattan College, Class of '72, with a bachelor of science in management and has taken courses at NYU in construction technologies. He has worked as a construction manager in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the country. He presently owns and operates Confidential Document Destruction Corporation, a company that destroys and recycles business papers and documents.
He began the Manhasset Action Committee for Public Parks in 1997 after the Town of North Hempstead sold its former highway garage property next to the LIRR trestle on Bayview Avenue. The group brought legal action against the town for the sale.
Mr. Rolston is critical of the present Manhasset-Lakeville Water District Board of Commissioners for not having acted to prevent the sale. According to Mr. Rolston, "The result is we now have a potential development threatening our drinking water. It is time we have a Water Commissioner who will keep the public informed and stand up for the future purity of our water."
Mr. Rolston and his wife, Patricia, are parishioners of St. Mary's parish and the parents of three sons. When his son Michael became a volunteer firefighter, he began to listen to the concerns of that group. Like Kenny, he says he is concerned that there is a lack of volunteers in certain age groups and a lack of available volunteers at certain times of the day. In his campaign literature, Rolston says that Nassau County might consider giving property tax relief to volunteer firefighters.
He is concerned about the number of false alarms that MLFD receives and recommends that a system of fines should be set up for individuals who fail to repair faulty alarm systems which result in false alarms. (According to MLFD Commissioner Brian Jennings, such a system is already in place in Nassau County but it has been found difficult to impossible to administer.)
Rolston was involved with Jim Judge, Ed Kitt and Gary Kucich who worked with Manhasset Park District Commissioner Ed Winrow to get the new Manhasset Baseball Field built in the Nassau County Valley Park.
The election will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at Company #1 Firehouse, 35 Bayview Avenue, Manhasset; Company #3 Firehouse, Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, Great Neck; Company #5 Firehouse, 78th and Stewart Avenues, New Hyde Park.