More than a month after a contentious Chamber of Commerce meeting that split the Island Park business community, a new group, called the Island Park Business and Resident Chamber of Commerce, hosted its first general meeting on the evening of Jan. 16.
The new organization formed in the wake of a heated election at the original Chamber on Dec. 12, in which many claimed that they were forbidden from voting, despite being paying members of the group. A number of business owners and residents of the community, including Island Park Public Library President Glenn Bacigalupo and New York City firefighter Tommy Asher, accused the chamber officers of using “unfair” tactics to retain control.
“You had a secret meeting and changed the membership date and the bylaws,” Asher alleged at the meeting, pointing at chamber president Glenn Ingoglia. “There are a lot of businesses in hardship because of Sandy. They’re struggling, and you cut them off. That is beyond unfair. You’re doing this for political reasons and it’s not right.”
The new chamber met at the Island Park United Methodist Church, and more than 80 residents and business owners from Island Park attended, said Mark Tannenbaum, a Harbor Isle resident and the executive vice president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce who was instrumental in the founding of the new group.
“I thought that if we had 40 or 45 people, we’d have a great meeting,” said Tannenbaum, adding that 35 members of the audience paid their first-year dues and joined the new chamber that evening. “I tell you, they’re hungry for an organization that is going to work for the community. No politics.”
Tannenbaum arranged for the event’s speakers, Mark Grossman, the Long Island director of New York Rising, and County Legislator Denise Ford.
The new board of directors, including president Loren LoMacchio and vice-presidents Matthew Interligi and Terry Reichel, introduced themselves and their agenda, including their intention to restore Island Park’s downtown by bringing in prosperous businesses and engender a productive, supportive environment.
“What we’re looking to do is get as many people as would like to be involved, involved,” said LoMacchio. “The people who came together have already done some amazing things for this community, and they want to continue to do so.”
Tannenbaum agreed. “This town was severely devastated by Sandy,” he said. “We need to help it. We need to help it get back. And we need to do it where you have a neutral organization that’s trying to unify the community to pull it together and make it successful.”
The next general meeting of the Island Park Business and Resident Chamber of Commerce will be held at the Methodist Church, at 364 Long Beach Road, at 7 on Feb. 13, and is open to the public.