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Editorial: Harry Jacobson’s Legacy

With this being the week before Christmas, I had planned to write an editorial wishing everyone happy holidays, and I still wish all of you the best. However, something happened at a Massapequa Park Village Board meeting which I wish to reflect on. Dan Pearl was sworn in as a trustee, as his family looked on. It was a happy moment that I’m sure he will always treasure, and I wish him well in his new role. After he took his seat on the board, Mayor James Altadonna took the nameplate that belonged to the late Harry Jacobson, whom Pearl is replacing, and handed it to Village Administrator Peggy Caltabiano.

It was a final reminder that Harry is no longer with us, and this made me sad. When you cover a beat, as I have covered Massapequa Park for many years, you get to really know the people in charge. I can state from my personal experience that Harry was a good man. Up until the day he passed on, he always had the best interests of Massapequa Park residents at heart. For example, whenever the owners of a potential new business appeared before the board at a public work session, Harry would always question them to make sure that the proposed business would be an enhancement and not blight to the community. He truly cared for the village and he left a lasting legacy.

There is no doubt that Harry greatly influenced current board members, Trustee Tina Schiaffino, Trustee Teresa Spinosa, Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Pravato and Mayor James Altadonna. I’ve attended village board meetings throughout Long Island and I can say that this is one of the best boards that I have encountered. In their discussions at public work sessions, the topic is never about politics - it’s always about what’s best for the village. Their efforts in the aftermath of Sandy were extraordinary. They were out in the community trying to help residents recover. At the first board meeting after the storm, anyone in attendance could see how visibly tired they were - yet they continued on doing what they could for the community. They won’t get a round of applause like Governors Christie and Cuomo, but they deserve one.

The proof of their efforts is the shape of the village. It is a great place to live. Despite the economic crisis that has devastated so many villages, Park Boulevard remains a charming main street, especially at this time of the year. If there was a movie theatre, I almost would expect it to be playing The Bells of St. Mary’s as Jimmy Stewart runs past it hollering, “Merry Christmas.” Breakfast in the Park, Irish Night, and the Memorial Day and Independence Day parades are also popular, well attended events.

There are plenty of elected officials for which complaining about is appropriate. However, this board has proven that they get it right. I’m sure that somewhere, Harry Jacobson is quite proud.                                 

-Ron Scaglia