In the early afternoon of July 7, Bayville’s new elected officials — Mayor Bob De Natale and Trustees Peter Valsecchi, Valerie Belcher, David Wright and Patricia Farnell — were sworn in to office on the lawn outside Village Hall.
In brief remarks afterward, De Natale thanked the outgoing mayor, Paul Rupp, who did not run for re-election, for “leaving a village to me that’s in good financial shape and impeccably groomed and maintained.”
At the ceremony, the tension seen during the campaign between Bayville’s two parties — the Taxpayers, or TIP, and the Bayville Revitalization, or BRP — was nowhere to be found. De Natale, who ran on the TIP ticket, and Rupp, of the BRP, had only kind words to say about each other.
“I know these guys are going to continue forward with what’s been going on in the last four years and make it even better,” Rupp said. To the crowd, he said, “It’s all your guys’ community, so tell all of these people” — the new mayor and trustees — “what you want, and they’ll listen to you, I guarantee you that.”
Reflecting on his time in office, Rupp said, “It’s a rewarding experience to spend time and talents trying to make your community a better place to live.”
In a phone interview after the inauguration, De Natale told the Guardian that he expected a smooth transition, in part because Rupp’s administration had been “extremely inclusive” to the trustees, even from the opposing party. “I made it a point to be as involved as I could,” De Natale said, “but there’s still a lot to learn.”
The village board is now populated exclusively by Taxpayer Party members, as it was prior to 2014, when members of the then new Bayville Revitalization Party were the big election winners. They ran the village government until 2016. With a TIP win of three trustee seats that year, the board was evenly represented by both parties, until the untimely death of TIP Trustee Michele Principe last December. Her seat, which has one year left, was not filled until this election by Peter Valsecchi.
Other local dignitaries attended the event, including County Legislator Josh Lafazan and Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino.
Locals who were there said they thought the new administration would help Bayville retain the charm that made them want to move there in the first place. De Natale’s brother, Andrew, a Bayville resident, said he expected the new mayor to provide steady stewardship of the village, and to avoid letting it change too much. Andrew De Natale called his brother a class act, calm and level-headed. “He’s going to fight hard to keep Bayville from changing,” Andrew said, “keeping it the nice, close-knit community it is today.”
“It’s a great town already,” Jennifer Diamandopol, a neighbor of new Trustee David Wright, said. “We want to try to keep it that way. A nice, quiet, clean, safe place to raise our families, and I think they’ll do that.”
Diamandopol noted that while she wasn’t sure what specifically was on the electees’ agenda, “I know they’re good people. I’m hoping that whatever decisions they have to make reflect that.”
De Natale said that first and foremost, “I want to see the Bayville Bridge repaired.” The bridge, he noted, had been closed because of damage on the weekend of the inauguration. “This is an island, like it or not,” he said, “and we need to have access to Oyster Bay.”
He said that he was excited about continuing to work with the Bayville Beautification Committee, whose efforts on what he called a “shoestring budget” were commendable.
De Natale also said that he would work to add a second floor to the Bayville Free Library. “That would be fantastic for the community,” he said.
As for preserving the village’s charm, the new mayor said, “There are some people in the village that would like to see condominiums.” He said he wanted to keep the village from becoming like Long Beach. “Nothing against Long Beach,” he added. “Condos have their place, but not here in Bayville.”