It was neighbor vs. neighbor vs. neighbor up until last week in the Village of Baxter Estates, after a rare three-way, contested election for mayor was announced. Current Village Trustees John Maher, on the Independent Party line, and Jim Neville, the Unity Party's candidate, were both challenging incumbent Mayor John Weaver, who had filed his nominating petition. However, even though his name will appear on the ballot on Tuesday, March 20, he has withdrawn from the race. Weaver was elected mayor two years ago, after serving for years as a trustee.
For two trustee positions on the village board are those of incumbents Jim Neville and Fred Nicholson. On the Unity Party ticket, Mr. Nicholson is seeking a second term as trustee. Jake Eisenman is seeking the seat of Mr. Neville, who as stated, is running for mayor.
The Independent Party's candidates for trustee are Loretta Di Benedetto and Charles Comer. Though all the elected officials serve without pay, they administer a multi-million dollar, taxpayer-supported village budget, and have considerable say on local issues, such as taxation, traffic and zoning, relations with the Port Washington Public Library (which is in the village, but operates independently), disputes between neighbors and other quality-of-life concerns.
The election is Tuesday, March 20, noon-9 p.m. at Village Hall in the Fleet Bank Building on Harbor Road.
We are running as independent candidates for public office in this year's Village elections on Tuesday, March 20, and we're asking for your support. The Mayor position and two of the Village's four Trustee positions are coming up for election this year. John Maher, who is currently a Trustee, is running for Mayor, and Charles Comer and Loretta DiBenedetto are running for the two Trustee positions.
We are longtime Village residents, actively involved in numerous civic activities. John is a Trustee and Baxter Estates Civic Association representative to the General Council of Homeowners Associations; Charles has been a member of the Baxter Estates Board of Appeals since 1994; and Loretta is a former member of the School Board. We are dedicated to improving management and administration of the Village and restoring the Village's sense of community. Among the specific initiatives we intend to implement are:
1. Improved Communications With the Residents to Build a Greater Sense of Community:
Stop, Look & Listen: We will listen to the residents; and literally "walk the streets" identifying ways to improve the quality of life in the village - from Main Street to Sandy Hollow, from Baxter Beach to Mullon Avenue. Projects large and small will be seen through to satisfactory completion. Importantly, each of us has ample time in our daily schedules to permit direct, hands-on attention to details.
Newsletter. All residents will receive a periodic newsletter summarizing Board meeting minutes, the latest happenings in the Village and other items of general interest.
Website. We will move to create a Village website incorporating our Village's history, geographic boundaries and other general information, zoning ordinances, leaf pick-up and garbage colllection schedules, special announcements and an ability for residents to communicate via e-mail wih the Village office.
Welcome New Residents. New Baxter Estates residents usually are not contacted by the Village office when they move here. Board members will identify and meet with each new resident, present a welcome package, describe the Village's history and sense of community and encourage involvement in Village activities.
2. Beautification: We will launch a long-term tree-replanting program in order to replace the dozens of trees we have lost over the years through natural attrition and development. Other cost-effective plantings and landscaping projects will be undertaken.
3. Baxter Pond/Shields Property: The pond is a centerpiece of our Village, which has been sorely neglected in recent years. We will monitor Nassau County's pond-restoration project more closely to bring it to a satisfactory and speedy conclusion. Of course, we will also press for prompt completion of the Shields hardware store.
4. Village Zoning Ordinances: Zoning ordinances will be reviewed and some strengthened; we will be more vigilant about identifying and correcting violations. We will also work to codify the Village's zoning ordinances into a bound volume, available for residents' review.
5. Village Taxes: We will keep village taxes to a minimum, consistent with the above initiatives.
We are excited about improving our Village for all residents and look forward to discussing this with you and to receiving your support on March 20. The voting will be held from noon until 9 p.m. at the Village Office, 2 Harbor Road (Fleet Bank Building). We welcome your questions and suggestions.
Jim Neville- Candidate for mayor
Resident of Baxter Estates for two and one-half-years, grew up in Port on Reid Ave. Holds a BA and MA from Syracuse in Spanish Language and Literature; a graduate of New York Law School; worked as public defender in both state and federal courts, now in his own practice, specializing in litigation, with an emphasis on criminal defense. He is a member of St. Stephen's Church, and has a 12-year-old daughter. Jim's wife Tayler grew up in Baxter Estates, and her mother, Nancy Allen Bruenner, lives across the street from Jim and Tayler. Tayler's late father, George Oestreich was a well-respected mayor of Baxter Estates. Jim has committed to codifying and organizing the village code as an in-house project to be done through desk-top publishing, saving the village $14,000 that a legal publisher would charge.
Fred Nicholson- Candidate for trustee
A resident of Port Washington for 13 years Mr. Nicholson has been deputy Mayor of the village since last April, and was elected as trustee in April 1999. He holds a BA in business administration from Alfred University. Since September 1993, he has been vice president of Aon Risk Services---Construction Industry Group. From 1997 to present, he has been a semester guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Real Estate and Construction. His wife Martha is a nurse who has worked for 17 years at North Shore. They have three children, ages 10, 8 and 17 months.
Jake Eisenman- Candidate for trustee
A resident of Port since 1974, Mr. Eisenman moved to Baxter Estates in 1977. He has been the Commissioner of Environmental Affairs in the village since 1999, and a representative of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee. He has been active in the Chamber of Commerce, serving in official capacities in it's activities. He has a MFA degree in graphic design/corporate communications from Yale University's Graduate School of Art & Architecture, and a BFA from Carnegie-Melon School of Fine Arts. He has been president of his own company, James Eisenman Design Associates from 1984 to the present. Prior to that he worked for several magazines as art director and photographer. He and his wife, Sally, a local psychologist, have three children, ages 23, 18 and 10.
In 1999, the Unity Party asked you to "Vote for a Change" and elect new officers. We identified serious problems in the Village that had existed for decades - despite complaints - and pledged to solve them. The Unity Party won in 1999, but the Village was the real winner. While maintaining "positive programs currently in place and preserving low taxes," as promised, we accomplished the following:
Sandy Hollow Lane residents now have adequate water (and live on a real street). Sandy Hollow Lane has ten homes, all in Baxter Estates. For decades they were sharing a barely adequate one inch water main and living on an "undedicated" street while their ongoing written and vocal complaints were ignored. This "oversight" became an early priority.
Mullen Avenue now has snow plowing. The last five homes on Mullen Avenue are in Baxter Estates "for tax purposes only," as one Mullen resident noted. Those homes, including one with a 90-year-old woman, were depending on neighbors for snow removal. Resolved: The Town of North Hempstead added those houses to their route, as their trucks plow the rest of Mullen.
Baxter's Pond Park Restoration is under way and within schedule. While DEC permits and management changes slowed things down this fall, Nassau County's contract calls for completion in the fall of 2001. Work is ongoing near Tianderah and will move down to the Pond as weather permits. Notes: 1) The post-and-rail fence on Central is a "bonus" and the result of our concerns for pedestrian safety. 2) The pond refilled, and will remain that way at our request for reasons of safety and aesthetics.
Resolved: After a five-year crusade started at a Baxter block party, the restoration of Baxter's Pond Park is under way.
The new Shields Plumbing & Hardware Store has broken ground and is contractually committed for completion. Two rows of steel are up, the contractor's trailer is in place, and work goes on as weather permits. After an eight-year stalemate, the lot still empty, and both sides angry and polarized, the Unity Party called for a truce in early 1999: "Since Baxter residents and the Shields all want the store rebuilt instead of a vacant lot, let's put animosity aside, work together, and get this building going."
Resolved: The building is under way and the Village was given ample assurances and remedies for its timely completion.
The Library's new lot spares Locust and North Washington. Baxter residents on these streets are already burdened by Library and Landmark parking. A proposed entry to the Library's new lot from the middle of Locust would have made things far worse. The Village successfully resisted this idea, and is working with the Library on all matters affecting Baxter residents.
Resolved: The new Library parking lot will not have a new access on Locust Avenue.
Responsiveness and fairness for ALL residents. The 1999 Unity Party pledged to be: "Willing to listen, discuss, and to act responsibly wih regard to the concerns of ALL Village residents; to anticipate needs and to act promptly on issues of safety."
Resolved: Each concern is heard, reviewed and acted on appropriately.
Elect the Unity Team for 2001: Jim Neville for Mayor, Fred Nicholson and Jake Eisenman for Trustees
We've proven we can do the job. Now we want to finish the work we started. That includes supervising the restoration of Baxter's Pond, the Library construction, and Shields new building. The Unity Party "Team," which includes Trustee Jackie McGowan, also has important plans for the future - including a $14,000 savings that Trustee and Mayoral candidate Jim Neville has proposed. See the Unity Party 2001 fliers to learn more about our candidates, and about the Unity Party's plans for a better Baxter Estates.