Present at the inaugural meeting of the Manorhaven Village Board of Trustees were (left to right): Trustees John DiLeo and Brendan Fahey, Village Attorney Gerard Terry, Esq., Mayor Michael Meehan, Trustee Patrick Brostowin and Village Clerk Ronnie Shatzkamer.
There was a full house at the organizational meeting of the new administration of the Village of Manorhaven on July 7. Presiding were newly elected Mayor Michael Meehan and Trustees Patrick Brostowin and Brendan Fahey, as well as incumbent John DiLeo, who supported the Meehan slate, which was elected by an overwhelming majority (approximately two to one). County Legislator Wayne Wink swore in trustees Brostowin and Fahey; Mayor Meehan had been sworn in previously. Wink commented, "Now that the election is over, what is left is for us to govern. We must represent not only those who voted for us, but those who didn't."
Mayoral appointments were announced as follows: Village Attorney Gerard Terry, Esq.; Deputy Village Attorney Jonathan P. Fielding, Esq.; Acting Village Prosecutor Terry Brostowin, Esq.; and Acting Village Justice Peter Gallanter, Esq. In addition, Patrick Brostowin was named Deputy Mayor; Carmela Aiello was appointed as Deputy Village Clerk; and Matthew Meyran was named Bay Constable. The firm of Lundy & Co., PC was appointed as the Acting Village Auditor. Commissioners were named as follows: Daniel DiLucia, Health and Safety and Jeffrey Zeh, Environmental Affairs. The mayor and trustees also approved the following appointments to the board of zoning appeals (BZA): Douglas Schlaefer, chair, Thomas Panullo and Patrick Gibson.
The mayor and trustees encouraged all village residents to attend meetings, and announced the schedule for future meetings, the first one of which was scheduled for July 17. Other dates for 2008 are August 21, September 25, October 23, November 20, and December 18. After the meeting, but prior to this writing, a special meeting was announced for July 31 to discuss two critical issues: a proposal to repeal the controversial E-2 zoning and a proposed building moratorium. (See future Port News editions for updates on these issues.)
Meehan opened the meeting by thanking everyone for coming saying, "I want to thank those who voted for me and those who didn't. I hope to gain the confidence of all." He immediately opened the meeting for public comment. Many of the comments were to congratulate the newly elected officials and to express appreciation for the opportunity to be heard, an opportunity which many residents said had been missing from village hall in the recent past. Rita Santelli, past president of Concerned Citizens for Manorhaven, said, "I feel that the citizens of Manorhaven were in the past deprived of the privilege of coming to the board and asking questions and getting answers. Will you be opening public comment periods in the future?" Meehan assured her that there will be public comments at every meeting. He said, "The input is very important to us." One resident, Edie Perez, after offering congratulations and expressing appreciation for the opportunity to be heard, cautioned the board, "We will be watching you." This thought was echoed by community activist Michael Ragusa, who had been a vocal critic of the previous administration. He said, "I want to go along with what [the previous speaker] said." He added, "In spite of what we thought of the previous administrations, there were things done. The village was cleaned up. We must give credit to the two previous administrations." Meehan responded by calling for-and getting-a round of applause for the accomplishments of his predecessors. Maria Carpanelli, another local activist, protested the appointment of Doug Schlaefer as zoning board chair because he is not a village resident. Schlaefer told the Port News, "I grew up in this village, and I love it." Meehan expressed confidence in Schlaefer's ability to do the job.
Francine Mienick addressed the recent legislation about maintenance of property, which many residents had found overly stringent and which Mienick suggested might be specifically targeting her. Meehan said "I will review it and change it if necessary. In the meantime, you don't have to keep looking over your shoulder; we will not be targeting individual properties for political or other reasons." Robert O'Brien asked about reinstating the planning board, which has been dormant; Meehan said that he would look into it. In response to another question, Meehan assured the public that he will give this part-time job all of the attention that it requires. He said, "I will keep my other job, but I plan to be here every day. And, I am only five minutes away.
Other speakers included local business persons-in particular Peter Dejana of Dejana Industries who commented, "We are beginning to heal." Also congratulating the new administration were some of the village staff, among others, Dan Gallo, highway superintendent, who said, "I have watched this village grow since 1948, and I am proud to work here.
Consistent with the celebratory and hopeful feeling tone of the meeting, coffee and cake were served. Residents, public officials, and village staff stayed to talk about local issues and to get to know their neighbors.