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Guest column

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty: We're in this together


Every day, I am humbled and honored to serve as the mayor of the Village of Island Park, and I know that this pandemic has reached families, whether it be Barnum Isle, Harbor Isle or in our village. In fact, the loss of any of our neighbors is a loss to us all and is heart-wrenching. On a very personal level, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for an end to loss of lives and an end to the emotional, physical and economic horrors of Covid-19.

We continue to maintain our presence and responsiveness, even as we telecommute. We have taken steps to ensure that the village administration is available to assist fellow residents — our efforts and hard work continue each and every day. Our Department of Public Works maintains its sanitation responsibilities. When possible, our fine employees will begin street maintenance, repairing roads and filling potholes. Our DPW staff, led by Franco Mollo, Bill Boyce and Carlos Rodriguez, works tirelessly on behalf of all our residents. The DPW supervisor, Deputy Mayor Joseph Annarella, has been herculean in his efforts to keep our village’s infrastructure sound, while moving forward in these difficult times.

It is of utmost importance that while social distancing is the new normal, our village continues the progress that we have made in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Island Parkers are survivors. We have been through many challenges together, and as a family, we have risen to this challenge. We will do everything in our power to forge ahead with greatness, revitalization and growth. Nothing can deter us from keeping Island Park an outstanding place to live, work and raise a family. Our hazardous mitigation project is ongoing. The grant project is in its design and engineering phase, and the engineering firm Cameron Engineers is goal-oriented. We are in constant contact with the the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Homeland Security Consortium. Trustee Barbara Volpe-Reid has shown unwavering commitment and dedication to this project, our village and our residents.

In recent days, many residents have called inquiring about village employees taking pictures of their property. The purpose of these pictures is the completion of the application for inclusion in the FEMA-CRS program, which  is the community rating system to reduce flood insurance premiums. When the village is accepted, each homeowner will receive a 5 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums. The bill will indicate the village-wide discount. We will continue to take steps to increase that discount over time.

This application could not have been completed without the efforts of Walden Environmental Engineering, in particular Nora Brew, and four members of our staff: Reina Benson, Tami Locastro, John Sparaccio and Robert Tice. These individuals persevered under difficult circumstances to achieve this completion. We offer them our heartfelt thanks. Trustee Irene Naudus has been essential to this process and during these very challenging times, any and every cost-cutting measure is needed now more than ever.

The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is in the final stage of review of the design, engineering and preliminary construction plans for the resilience and hardening project at the Island Park Firehouse, specifically the Emergency Management Center on the second floor. H2M engineering has performed a yeoman’s task to get to this juncture. Trustee Gagliardi (former fire chief) and Annarella have been task-oriented and on the scene. The safety of our residents is always our highest priority and our firefighters and first responders have always been the heroes of our village. Today, tomorrow and forever we thank them and salute them.

I must thank our Madam Clerk Constance Conroy, our Village Accountant John Isola and our Court Clerk, Deputy Clerk Melissa Mele for their tremendous efforts in these difficult times responding to the day-to-day activities of our village and her residents.

We continue our partnership with our business community and together we thank them. From north to south –Peter’s Clam Bar and Outback restaurant have been customer-oriented and community-minded. Both restaurants have been generous in their giving and donating. Ace Hardware has been there for our village and continues to be extremely helpful to all our residents. Liotta Bros. has been helpful to the emergency needs of the village. Jordan’s Funeral Home’s Chris Jordan has shown even greater compassion and empathy during this crisis. We thank Classic Groceries for their generosity and giving selflessly to those less fortunate, and we appreciate the family’s efforts.

Without question, a sincere thank you to Pop’s Wines. Together, Da Vinci’s Restaurant has partnered with the village board to provide meals to the health care workers at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital. Jack’s Pizza has been kind and generous to our families and community as well. The Spanish Market and Aye Carumba have also contributed to show love and care to our residents. On behalf of a grateful village, please patronize our friends and neighbors during this unprecedented time. These remarkable businesses stood with us hand-in-hand to give and serve our residents.

At 7 p.m. each evening, our village stands united. Fom a window, a front porch, on a lawn or in a car, we cheer, celebrate and honor first responders and front-line heroes. Our nurses, doctors, firefighters, police officers, grocery store employees and essential workers, who are the true every day heroes of this pandemic. We can never thank them enough, or repay them for their bravery, courage and standing strong for all of us.

We have made sure to get any and all important information to our residents through our Facebook page, village website and any and all media platforms available to us. In the event of a road closure, sometimes it has taken a flyer in a mailbox, yet together, we have made sure to get information to our residents promptly. For our seniors or families in need, every Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,

Sacred Heart Church’s food pantry is ready to provide food to those who are struggling to get by. We are truly all in this together. While social distancing is a reality, we remain emotionally and spiritually connected to each and every resident of our great village.

We have made tremendous strides in the aftermath of Sandy, and we have re-dedicated ourselves to revitalizing, re-inventing and recovering in our beautiful village. I continue to provide my personal cell phone number for anyone in need in our village. If anyone needs me, I am but a phone call away.

This pandemic while horrific, is a remarkable tribute to Island Parkers. It would be impossible to mention everyone who has sent me a text or called me on the phone simply asking, “How can I help?” The beauty and kindness shines through and I am reminded how united we are as a unique village sharing this journey together. I will never forget each and every resident who asked how they can help. No one has to tell us who we are. Island Parkers know, we are in this together. We are a family. We will get through this. We will recover. Our renaissance continues.