Two sixth-graders learned how the Village of Valley Stream functions on Feb. 20, when Mayor Edwin Fare relinquished his authority to the students as part of the seventh annual Mayor For a Day.
Rose Rodriguez, an 11-year-old student at Robert W. Carbonaro School, and Daniel Paz, a 12-year-old student at Wheeler Avenue School, became temporary mayors after winning an essay competition. Daniel learned about the contest in school, and wrote about “What I think the mayor does to keep us safe.” Rose also submitted an essay about what she thought the mayor did. Their essays were selected as winners out of more than 100 entries.
The day began at Village Hall, where the students sat in the mayor’s seat and received certifications from him. Then they were put to work.
As Rose and Daniel got into a village vehicle, Fare said that one of them should sit in the front seat and alert the “base” at the Arlington Avenue Department of Public Works that they were arriving for their first job of the day. The mayor told Daniel what to say, and he learned the radio signals for arriving at a location and for “message received.”
Once at Arlington Yard, the junior mayors met David Sabatino, who works for the village’s Department of Public Works. He taught them how to weigh trucks and wave them through using the department’s computer system. Fare also showed them how the department monitors weather patterns to prepare for an upcoming storm.
Outside the yard, the students saw the waste transfer station under construction. When completed, it will include a new trash bailer and building — which would cut transfer costs. The current waste compactor is roughly 30 years old, and no longer compliant with Department of Environmental Conservation design codes that require solid waste transfer stations that receive more than 50,000 cubic yards or 12,500 tons of solid waste annually to operate “within an enclosed building or covered area.” In January, the village board approved a bond to help finance the construction of the new station.
“In eight months this will be a state-of-the-art facility,” Fare told the students.
Fare and Rose then tracked down the village’s pothole crew, which took some calling around on the radio — perfect for practicing the commands they had learned. Then Jared Andre, a Public Works employee, taught the young mayors how to sweep water out of the potholes and fill them with hot tar. Rosse and Daniel later said that this was their favorite part of the day. “I like when people work hard,” Daniel said, noting the effort he makes every year to raise money for Teleton USA, a rehabilitation organization.
Then it was off to the new courthouse on Rockaway Avenue, which will open in mid-May. It was originally built as a bank, the mayor told the students, and had been a synagogue and an attorney’s office before the village board bought it in 2011. To update the building to modern standards, the village had to install security cameras, an elevator and a handicapped-accessible door. “The entire building had to be redone,” Fare said.
The village decided to keep the art deco feel of the building, though, and hid the bank vault behind a closet. Rose and Daniel got to see the blueprints for the courthouse at the judge’s bench. “[The judge] didn’t even get to sit there yet, and you did,” Fare told them.
The final stop was at the Arthur J. Hendrickson Park, where the students watched village employee Eugene Boening plant banana trees for the pool complex and repaint the lion water fountain. “It looks so much better in the summer,” Boening said.
At the community center, the mayors ate lunch with members of the Silver Threads senior program. Then they held a mock-press conference. “I learned that being a mayor is hard work, because I always wanted to see how Mayor Edwin, how he does his work — and it looks fun, but hard,” said Paz.