Standing in front of Village Hall surrounded by several supporters, Lynbrook Deputy Mayor Hilary Becker announced at a news conference on Jan. 2 that he would challenge Mayor Alan Beach in the March 19 village election, citing his family’s history of public service.
Becker spoke of his father, Francis X. Becker, who served for 14 years as village mayor, from 1967 to 1981. “After much reflection and discernment,” Hilary Becker said, “I have decided to run for mayor and do my best to follow in his footsteps.”
Becker, 58, will run against Beach, 64, on the newly formed Preserve Lynbook Party line, along with residents Antoniella Tavella and Steve Ligouri, who will run for village trustee positions. Trustees Ann Marie Reardon and Robert Boccio, who are up for re-election, are members of the New Vision Party, along with Beach.
The trustee race will be an at-large vote, meaning the two candidates who receive the most votes will win four-year terms.
Becker, Tavella and Ligouri formed their party in response to a perceived lack of transparency over the proposed Cornerstone at Lynbrook proposal. In October, Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties proposed construction of a $75 million apartment complex, to be called the Cornerstone at Lynbrook, on the southwest corner of Earle Avenue and St. James Place, and a $10 million, 400-space parking garage at Broadway and Langdon Place. The board unanimously canceled the application on Nov. 19 after a public outcry.
In response to Becker’s announcement, Beach told the Herald that he looked forward to running alongside Reardon and Boccio, and emphasized that the board was united in its decision not to move forward with the Cornerstone proposal.
“As elected officials, it’s our job to consider all reasonable development proposals submitted to the village board,” Beach said. “The Cornerstone project referenced by the deputy mayor was considered too big for the community and was voted down unanimously by the village board back in November. No additional plans have been offered by the developer since then.”
Before the Cornerstone application was canceled, public hearings about the proposed project were delayed a number of times. Becker said he believed the project might return in some form, while Tavella said residents were denied an opportunity to voice their concerns.
“We’ve been attending these village board meetings monthly, trying to get answers to our questions, [and] we’ve been shut down repeatedly,” Tavella said. She added that if she, Becker and Liguori were elected, they would “fight for our residents to maintain the suburban way of life and re-establish trust in our local elected officials.”
Becker said that if the project were approved, there would be increased congestion and fewer parking spaces in Lynbrook’s downtown. He added that residents were also concerned about the proposed tax breaks that the developer would receive, which, he said, could cause an increase in taxes.
Becker said he would “do everything in my power to prevent this project from moving forward.” He noted that the party has an eight-point master plan that he said would address residents’ concerns and “revitalize the downtown area without compromising its small-town feel.”
Some residents took Becker to task at the Nov. 19 meeting because he recently sold property near the proposed Cornerstone site, and many residents questioned his motives for his opposition to the project.
Last month, Beach announced the formation of a committee to help better disseminate information about potential projects to residents, amid complaints about a lack of knowledge about the Cornerstone project and other past proposals. The committee, comprised of a dozen volunteers, including members of the Chamber of Commerce, community leaders, residents and former village officials, will meet monthly.
Beach, who has been on the board since 2007, appointed Becker as the deputy mayor in December 2017, two months after assuming the position of mayor following the sudden death of Mayor William Hendrick, who had appointed him deputy mayor. Beach then selected Boccio as a trustee to fill the void left by Becker. Because they took over in the middle of the term, Beach and Boccio ran uncontested for re-election last March and have to run again this year. Reardon became just the second woman to serve as a trustee in Lynbrook when Hendrick appointed her in June 2015. Michael Hawxhurst, who ran uncontested for another four-year term in 2017 along with Becker, rounds out the trustees.
Becker’s Jan. 2 announcement came after months of speculation that he had planned to run against Beach. Questioned publicly about it for the first time at the Nov. 19 board meeting, Becker said he had not made up his mind. Earlier that morning, he, Tavella and members of the Lynbrook Community Alliance, a local group that originally formed to oppose a proposed gun range that would double as a spa in the village, were at a rally denouncing the Cornerstone outside Village Hall. The gun range-spa plan never went forward.
In his statement after Becker’s announcement, Beach said he has made strides to ensure that residents are informed. “Throughout my time serving as mayor,” Beach said, “I, along with Trustees Ann Marie Reardon, Robert Boccio and Michael Hawxhurst, have maintained the most transparent administration in the history of Lynbrook Village, and we will continue to adhere to our open-door policy moving forward.”
Becker said, “We expect a good, clean race, and we’re going to stick to the issues.”
The village board will meet for the first time since Becker’s announcement on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.