Bob De Natale, 77, Bayville’s incoming mayor, is the first to say that he isn’t a politician. A retired Manhattan jeweler, he lives in Bayville because he loves the beach community, where he became a permanent resident over 60 years ago. He said he is honored to have won the election.
“If I can help retain the quality of life here, that’s what’s important to me,” he said, sitting in an overstuffed chair in the living room of his home, tucked away on one of the village’s narrow streets. Surrounded by photographs of his family — he and his wife, Pam, have four grown sons who still live in Bayville — De Natale said he is proud of them and happy that his 11 grandchildren attend the Locust Valley School District.
Bayvillites will soon see a change in village operations. The members of the Taxpayers Party captured every trustee seat on the village board, and De Natale is a member of the party too. Although the majority of the new leaders — David Wright, Patricia Farnell and Valerie Belcher — are political newcomers, De Natale has been a trustee for the past two years, and Peter Valsecchi, an incoming trustee, has served on the board in the past.
The party’s message, in some ways, is different from that of outgoing Bayville Revitalization Party members. Although they would like to see new businesses come to the village, members remain adamant that the village maintain its small-town feel. One issue that sets the Taxpayers Party apart from BRP is a commitment to keeping the village a single-family residential area, De Natale said.
The village government, with a majority of BRP members leading the initiative, passed a zoning change on June 22, 2015, that allowed for properties in areas zoned as business districts to have up to four residential apartment units. It also reduced the distance that a combined business/residential building could be from a residential dwelling from 250 to 50 feet. A civic group, Save Bayville Now, fought the code change and won on June 30, 2016. But the village appealed. “It’s imperative that the board stop the appeal of the court’s decision to strike down the zoning changes regarding apartments,” De Natale said. “I am against apartments on the ground floor.”
Another issue, the property at 33 Bayville Ave. that was once the home of Steve’s Pier, which was shuttered in 2006, remains open for discussion. Craig Kirsch and Greg Andrea, an architect, presented plans in 2015 for a seaside inn, which included kitchens, to a large group of residents, most of whom did not support the proposal. De Natale opposed it, saying, “What quaint seaside inn has two large rooms in a suite and a kitchenette?” He said then, and continues to believe now, that the inn would fail and would eventually become apartments. Kirsch and Andrea have canceled subsequent meetings with the village.
The property is now overgrown, and an eyesore. “I’d like to bring some closure to Steve’s Pier,” De Natale said. “Divide the property and convert it to a preserve. It sits on a fragile area right next to a wetland.”
Converting the property to a preserve would eliminate the possibility of pollution, he said. He plans to work with the North Shore Land Alliance and the Bayville Environmental Commission to see if this can come to fruition.
Another possibility would be to rezone the property residential, he said. “We could have three beautiful houses built there. We do have the power to change zoning.”
Asked what challenges he will face, De Natale mentioned keeping the village in good financial shape and “keeping it looking as good as it looks today.”
He is committed to overhauling the village codes, which he said need updated. “Over the years the village kept adding codes and making band-aid repairs,” he said. “We’d have to hand it over to a law firm, but it would be an expense that would be worthwhile.”
One idea that he is very interested in is the creation of a youth group to allow for more summer programs. “If the village offered something maybe the kids would do less camp,” he said. “I’d like to offer an agility program to condition them for the sports they will play in the fall. I know someone who will fund it and coordinate the instructors.”
Also, he would like to look at possibly hiring engineering firms other than H2M, the village’s current firm.
He has no plans to change the staff or volunteer committee members. “I don’t believe in fixing anything that isn’t broken,” he said. “I told them how much I appreciate what they’ve done in the past. I thanked them for their service and told them I hope they will continue to serve the village.”
Elections are often heated in Bayville, and unifying 7,000 or so residents afterward can be difficult. De Natale said he is ready to take on the challenge. Describing himself as a “caring, understanding person,” he remains empathetic to people’s problems and interested in what they have to say.
Before the election, he said, “I bring a vision for our community,” he said, “which embraces responsible, environmentally sound development, which will enhance the quality of life in the village.”
And then there is De Natale himself, whom people describe often as a “nice guy.”
“I have been in the jewelry business my entire life, and I had fun making people happy,” he said. “There will be times I can’t as mayor, but I’m going to try. I’m here to mend fences. I’m one of 10 siblings, and learned a long time ago that you can get more done working together than fighting.”
The new administration will be installed on July 7 at noon on the Village Green outside Village Hall, at 34 School St.