Alan Beach fought back tears in the Francis X. Becker Rotunda at Lynbrook Village Hall on Oct. 23, as late Mayor William Hendrick’s sons, Billy and John, swore Beach in as the new mayor. It was just 12 days after Hendrick had died of complications of a heart attack.
Now that he has assumed the office, Beach said, he plans to build on Hendrick’s legacy, while also making his own plans for the village.
“I certainly did not want or anticipate becoming mayor this way,” Beach said. “However, I am embracing the opportunity to continue the work the board started, as well as looking for ways to help plan the development of Lynbrook’s future. … I consider this the greatest honor to serve in a community that I love, and I remain committed and dedicated to just that.”
Beach has served on the Lynbrook board since 2007. He and his wife, Rina, have been married for 38 years, and have two sons, Alan, 36, and Gregory, 32, and two grandchildren. Before becoming a trustee, Beach spent 26 years with the New York City Fire Department, retiring in 2007 as a lieutenant.
As mayor, Beach said, one of his goals is to keep Lynbrook affordable for families, young people and seniors. He said that to do so, the village must increase its tax base by getting creative and enhancing its business district.
He said he wants to encourage the growth of local businesses and affordable housing. He pointed to a need for more innovative businesses, such as Doughology, a specialty doughnut shop on Atlantic Avenue, and Popcorn Buddha — which opened in September, also on Atlantic Avenue, and offers 85 varieties of gourmet popcorn — which he predicted would thrive.
Beach confirmed that the Regal movie theater would open on Feb. 9, which village officials have said should provide a boon to local businesses. In order to entice development, Beach said, he would clean up the downtown to make it more aesthetically pleasing for potential business owners.
He added that he had already spoken with the landlords of many vacant properties in Lynbrook about how to best fill the spaces. Beach noted that a new smoothie store is in the works, and he has reached out to potential new restaurant owners. “We want our Lynbrook residents to have everything they need, right here in their own hometown,” he said. “My vision is to have Lynbrook accommodate all our needs.”
Though he hopes to promote development, a few major projects have been scrapped in recent months. In July, hotel developer Lee Browning withdrew plans to build a six-story Courtyard by Marriott on top of a parking garage at the corner of Broadway and Langdon Place. His decision came after 13 years of trying to build the hotel. The location changed three times, and village officials did not fully support the plan.
In August, developers also withdrew a short-lived proposal to create a transit-oriented residential community — a walkable neighborhood within a half-mile of public transportation — on a three-acre site where Hot Skates, Fun Station USA and Hi Tech Security now operate.
Beach was the deputy mayor during the negotiations for both projects. He noted that the Marriott might have solved some of the parking issues in the village because the garage would have had 306 parking spaces split between the village and the hotel. However, he said, because the hotel was to be built over what is now a municipal parking lot, the board never received a clear plan from Browning for where commuters would park during construction. Beach said he also plans to address parking issues in the village.
Beach added that he is open to development, but was not a proponent of the Hot Skates plan because it focused on rental apartments, not condominiums. He said he and the board would prefer that residents own land.
“I think condominiums are a fantastic way to go for Lynbrook,” he said. “I am in favor of attracting new and beautiful condominiums — again, in keeping with the goal of attracting young people and young families to our village.” He noted that Hot Skates and other areas might be developed in the near future.
Though Beach has ideas that are similar to Hendrick’s on some issues, he said there would be some notable differences under his administration.
“While Mayor Hendrick had his own style of governing, I believe my style will be one of sharing responsibilities,” he said. “Getting more community input, more board input, and utilizing our incredible, talented resources and individuals that truly have so much insight and so much to offer.”
One of Beach’s first orders of business will be appointing a new trustee to fill his seat. He said he has listened to suggestions and would likely make a decision by the Nov. 20 board meeting.
Because he was appointed by the trustees to take over in the middle of Hendrick’s term, Beach will have to run in a special election in March, and again in 2019, when Hendrick’s term is up.
He said he has received plenty of support over the past few weeks, including from the Department of Public Works, the fire and police departments, the Recreation Department, the staff at Village Hall, the trustees and residents.
Trustee Hilary Becker, who has worked alongside Beach for eight years, said the community is still grieving the loss of Hendrick, but he is confident that Beach will continue to take Lynbrook in the right direction.
“He’s been an unsung hero for this village in many ways that people will never know about, but now he will be taking on a major leadership role as mayor, and I know he’s more than ready for it,” Becker said. “I feel honored to be his friend and colleague, and look forward to working with him for years to come.”
Trustee Ann Marie Reardon also voiced her support. “I am truly proud to serve as a trustee alongside Alan,” she said. “For the past 10 years, Alan has been a proven leader, always putting the concerns and needs of our village first. Not only as a board member, but as a resident, I admire Mayor Beach’s continued efforts to make Lynbrook the best place to live, work and raise a family.”