The Village of Manorhaven has two residents competing for the two-year mayoral position. Mayor Jim Avena is running for reelection under the Manorhaven Residents Party and resident, Vincent Costa will be running against him under the Manorhaven Liberty Party. The Port Washington News asked each candidate their plans for the village if they were to be elected, as well as what improvements they might like to see take place within the village.
Mayor Jim Avena:
Q. Tell us about yourself. What is your background?
A: After graduating from Long Island University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, I volunteered for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant. After my military service, I made my career in the financial industry, leading several firms, including serving as president of Cantor Fitzgerald. In retirement, I have been active in our community. I was elected Village Trustee in 2015, elected Mayor in 2016 and re-elected in 2018. For several years prior to being elected as Trustee in 2015, I attended nearly every monthly village board meeting. Outside of the village, I serve on the board of directors of the Port Washington Senior Citizens Center, and I volunteer for the Outreach Program at Our Lady of Fatima, the Knights of Columbus and other charitable organizations.
Q. If you are re-elected, what are some goals you have for the Village?
A: We are working to upgrade and repair our village’s infrastructure—we will finish ongoing improvements to our sewer system and upgrade the pump station with a $445,000 grant we secured. We will also add more public pathways through the Preserve, continuing the Port Washington Bay Walk through the Village with another $335,000 grant. We will continue paving and repairing streets and sidewalks that had been neglected for decades. Our improved bond rating and our proven record on securing grants has given us the ability to finance these capital and infrastructure improvements while keeping the cost to our taxpayers down.
In the coming year, Manorhaven Boulevard will be completely redone with repaving, repaired curbs and sidewalks plus amenities like attractive lampposts, benches, planting and other aesthetics. We will work with commercial property owners and local organizations to attract new businesses to fill the empty storefronts and shoppers to patronize them.
Q. What improvements would you like to see in the Village?
A: Even with my administration abolishing alternate side parking in winter other than during snowstorms and cracking down on overcrowding, parking is still a huge quality of life issue for many residents. We are working hard to keep improving that issue and have some plans to further remedy this problem.
Also, I’d like to continue our focus on how property owners maintain their homes and yards, whether they live there or rent them. Most owners take really great care of their properties and it’s not fair to them to live near homes that are not maintained. We have and will continue to remind those that don’t and fine when needed.
Q. What challenges, if any, do you expect to face if you are re-elected?
A: At every level of government, there is always a balance between keeping property taxes down and funding capital improvements. As I mentioned, our ability to easily bond for roadwork and other projects yet space the work out to defray costs over time helps us stay within our budget each year. But we have also done a great job of securing grants from New York State and Nassau County to fund various initiatives. Just one recent example is a grant secured for the Village by our County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton for improvements to our Nature Preserve as mentioned above, which include lighting, security cameras and enhancements to the trail.
Vincent M. Costa:
Q. Tell us about yourself. What is your background?
A: My wife Laura and I have lived in Manorhaven for 38 years. While raising our 3 children, we were very involved in the Port Washington Schools, PAL, PYA and Troop 7 where our two sons are Eagle Scouts. I worked for United Parcel Service for 26 years, 10 of those years as a Shop Steward where I managed more than 300 employees. After being retired for 11 years, I joined the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department in 1977 and continued service to the Port Washington Fire Department from 1983 to present. I am currently starting my 44th year of active service including holding the ranks of Engineer, Lieutenant and Captain of Protection Engine Company #1. I was awarded the Silver Medal of Valor in 1989 and was a founding member and Head Advisor of the Port Washington Fire Department Juniors 2000 till present. I care deeply about the Manorhaven community and my leadership skills have been proven, as I served as Captain of Protection Engine Company #1. I am also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks and was a founding member of the Christmas Tree Lighting on Main Street, where I continued as a co-chair for many years.
Q. Why did you decide to run for Mayor?
A: There are serious issues in our village with over development pertaining to our waterfront properties, especially with the proposed plan of high-rise residential developments along our shoreline. This would change the character of our village by the bay. Secondly, our roads are in extreme disrepair and need more than patch work. There are other various issues pertaining to the pump station and the infrastructure that need to be addressed.
Q. If you are elected, what are some goals and improvements would you like to see in the village?
A: I would like to protect our waterfront community and the environment from being over-developed. My primary goal is to devise a long-term development plan and incorporate it into our codes. This hasn’t been done since 1987. I would like to see more community involvement, and protection of our precious waterfront asset.
Q. What challenges, if any, do you expect to face if you are elected?
A: The challenge will be to maintain Independent leadership, because throughout the years in our village there has been pressure from developers and special interest groups with big bank rolls, who have gained special accommodations from the village government.