With political signs in hand, dozens of residents turned out for a rally for Mayor Alan Beach and Village Trustees Ann Marie Reardon and Robert Boccio at the Lynbrook roller hockey rink on Saturday, chanting “Four more years!” and “Lynbrook first” as they urged voters to re-elect the Beach team.
As a clearly emotional Beach approached the lectern, he recalled his past 18 months as mayor. He said that he and the board have accomplished a great deal during that time, and he encouraged voters to support his team in the March 19 election.
“I put my heart into everything I do, and I put my heart into being mayor,” Beach said. “I love being with my neighbors, and I love helping my neighbors. I spend every dollar that we have in Lynbrook as if it is your dollar.”
Beach said that he chose to host the news conference at the rink because he and other local parents worked together to push for a bond to pay for it 20 years ago, when village officials declined to do so. The event came 10 days after Deputy Mayor Hilary Becker announced that he was running against Beach, and introduced trustee candidates Antoniella Tavella and Steve Ligouri as part of the Preserve Lynbrook Party.
Becker’s party was outspoken in its opposition to the $75 million Cornerstone at Lynbrook project, which would have been developed by Anthony Bartone, of the Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, had it not been rejected by the village board in November.
Addressing residents gathered at the rink, Reardon took aim at Becker’s party for using a canceled project as a rallying cry. She added that the board functioned as it should by attracting a development opportunity and then canceling it when it did not fit its vision. “We said no,” Reardon said. “We did exactly what you entrusted us to do.”
Reardon also criticized Becker for his apparent financial interest in the project, which she said he was trying to hide. She said Becker had initially negotiated a $2.6 million deal with Bartone to purchase properties that his family owned near the Cornerstone site. Residents pressed Becker on the matter at Monday’s village board meeting, after which he confirmed to the Herald that he had talked with Bartone before deciding to sell the four properties to Bradford Mott, who owns several apartment complexes.
Becker said that talks broke down with Bartone because the developer wanted to add contingencies to the deal. Reached by phone Tuesday, Bartone said that contracts were drafted without contingencies, but Becker leveraged Bartone’s offer to make more money from Mott, and Bartone provided a copy of the contract to the Herald.
Becker said his failure to strike a deal with Bartone had no bearing on his opposition to the Cornerstone project, which he said he believed was not dead. “It’s a 220-unit, six-story apartment building with one parking space per unit with a ginormous PILOT,” Becker said. “It’s absurd.” Bartone said that allegations that the project wasn’t canceled were false, but noted that he would be open to returning to Lynbrook with another pitch in the future.
Reardon called Becker’s party “the Becker Real Estate team,” because Ligouri’s daughter and wife work for Becker Real Estate. Becker said they are independent contractors and not his employees.
During his speech at the rally, Boccio also addressed his opponents, saying they sent out anonymous fliers “geared toward circulating stories that they know are patently untrue.” He added that they funded anonymous mailings that were aimed at misinforming residents about the Cornerstone project, held secret, closed-door meetings with the Lynbrook Community Alliance, of which Tavella is a member, and posted what he called “vile material” on social media. Becker denied any involvement with the LCA and said he had nothing to do with any of the fliers or social media posts, and he did not know who was behind the mailers.
Boccio said that Lynbrook officials and residents should keep an open mind about development when the right projects come along, or, he said, Lynbrook will fall behind as other villages and hamlets grow and prosper.
“As a homeowner and someone who has planned to continue to live in this village, the overall prosperity of this village is tied directly to my family’s home value and quality of life,” he said. “I want to see both of these things flourish. That’s why I’m running for re-election to the board.”
Beach appointed Becker, a longtime trustee, as deputy mayor, and Boccio as a trustee, in December 2017, two months after he became mayor following the death of William Hendrick, who had appointed Beach deputy mayor.
Boccio is an attorney, and has served as a member and chairman of the village’s Board of Ethics and Board of Zoning Appeals, and as an assistant village prosecutor. He previously ran for Lynbrook mayor in 2007, losing to former Assemblyman Brian Curran.
Reardon became the second woman village trustee in Lynbrook history when Hendrick appointed her in 2015, and had worked for Curran when he was a state assemblyman. Mike Hawxhurst, who ran unopposed for a four-year term with Becker in 2017, rounds out the trustees.
Beach said he intended to release his Lynbrook vision plan in the coming days, which will include:
—Freezing property taxes for 2019.
—Reducing the cost of the village’s pre-school program.
—Lowering parking fees for commuters.
—Improving Greis Park.
—Adding security cameras around the village.
—Beautifying the Long Island Rail Road station.
Becker said his party would soon share an eight-point strategic plan to help the village prosper.
At the end of Saturday’s event, Beach thanked his family and supporters. “I promise each and every one of you, if you call me, if you have a problem, I will help you,” he said. “I don’t care what time of day it is, whenever. This is a great village. It’s Lynbrook first. We’re moving forward here.”