Give credit to the Chamber of Commerce


To the Editor:

The events of last week’s Island Park Chamber of Commerce meeting still disturb me. For years the Island Park chamber was an almost nothing entity. It has been a group of business people with a sagging membership who get together and pat each other on the back once a year, handing out their Man of the Year award at the annual dinner that we all dutifully attend to applaud the winner and validate the existence of a group that really didn’t do much for this town.

In recent years that has changed. Michael Scully, Glenn Ingoglia, John Cistero, Doris Gralitzer, Barbara Rubin, Harvey Gertler, and the “new” Chamber of Commerce have all stepped up to the plate and turned it around, delivering for this community. What was once an obscure old boys’ club now was reaching out and including everyone. 

From the sign welcoming people to our little town, to the mixers, to the dinner meetings, as well as hosting ribbon cuttings for Sandy-ravaged businesses when they came back, they have been tireless. Can anyone forget the morning of the Sandy vote in the Senate, when our chamber delivered Sen. Chuck Schumer to the center of our village for a bird’s eye view of our situation and a press a conference? The chamber did that!

The new leadership has expanded membership, fostered friendships, promoted unity and brought attention and money to this town. They sought and coordinated over half a million dollars in National Grid grants and aid to local businesses. They have constantly worked on the beautification projects. They have done more in one year than the old Chamber did in 20, and more than any other group in this town in the past year.

And their reward? Not a “thank you,” “good job,” not even a pat on the back, or a nod. Nothing like that. It seems in this town when you step out, volunteer your time, effort or money; when you try to make anything better, what you get is a target on your back. You get attacked.

When the chamber held their meeting last week at a local restaurant, one of its purposes was to take nominations for the new board. All were invited, including non-members (which has been the case over and over again for this productive, inclusive, vibrant Chamber of Commerce). Instead of accepting the generous invitation and coming with thanks for past achievements, and ideas on where to take the chamber in the coming year, a lynch mob of people who have never been to any of the previous meetings, or been involved in all of these successes, demanded that Glenn Ingoglia step down because he is considering a run for mayor.

The funny thing is, this group was led by two of our very own village trustees! They don’t want politics in the chamber, unless, it seems, it’s their politics.

What I don’t understand is how people who I thought were caring members of this community could get sucked into turning on Island Park’s own by some salesman, who has never had anything to do with our chamber or this town before. People were invited for new nominations. This guise of “taking back” the Chamber of Commerce, like any of them ever lost it, was just that, a guise. How can people who I thought were serious, caring members of this community support these people after this sick incident? These people don’t want to better the chamber. They want to wreck it. They proved it by their actions and their lack of serious candidate nominations for any positions.

Look, a lot of people didn’t want the Posillico development.

The job of the chamber is to promote business growth.

There is no denying that an influx of more than 100 $100,000 plus earners would have been great for local businesses. The chamber took a position supporting it. It’s understandable. I did not support it, but I understand the chamber supporting it. Those who didn’t support it made their voices heard. It’s not going to happen. The Town Board rejected it.

Instead of taking the win and being happy, a group of people who are not happy unless they are running everything took a handful of people and tried to crash and burn the Chamber of Commerce.

We shouldn’t have to live in a town like this. Stand with me in condemning these people and supporting the people who have shown up and worked for us. Thank them and wish them well in their future endeavors. Most of all, don’t let these people destroy everything this current chamber has built.

Anne Matthaei

Island Park