Three candidates vying for the Rockville Centre board of trustees fielded residents’ questions and discussed the issues at a community forum on June 3 at the Sandel Senior Center.
Newcomers Katie Conlon and Mark Albarano, and incumbent Emilio Grillo, who are contesting two seats, offered their thoughts on continuing to improve the village and explained where they stand on key issues.
A couple of dozen socially distanced residents arrived early to submit questions. Nine questions were selected by the moderator, Jeffery Brown, a retired Nassau County Supreme Court judge. The candidates had two minutes to respond.
All three agreed that making up for the revenue shortfall brought on by coronavirus pandemic shutdowns is the most crucial challenge for the village. Grillo, 55, a trial attorney and partner at Goldberg Segalla and a trustee since 2013, said that the village had lost about $935,000 in Recreation Center fees, $500,000 in parking permit income and $450,000 in parking meter fees because of the pandemic.
“We’ve already started coming up with alternative parking permits and opening up our parking lots to residents outside the village,” Grillo said.
Conlon, 48-years-old and a former nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who is part of Grillo’s RVC Family Party, stressed the need to diversify revenue streams to avoid tax increases. She also advocated continuing the board’s efforts to apply for state and federal grants to support local small businesses.
“We are lucky to have such a vibrant downtown, and many of our businesses have taken a hit and suffered,” Conlon said. “It helps to bring other revenue to the town through parking and involvement from other communities.”
Albarano, 50, emphasized increased use of the village’s waste transfer station to promote business-to-business relationships with other municipalities. “I think it’s one of the areas that we have to explore in greater depth with all of our service to see if we can create revenue,” he said. He is currently working as the Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety for the Town of North Hempstead.
Both Conlon and Grillo signaled their support for the Bay Park Conveyance Project, which aims to improve water quality and storm resiliency by upgrading existing wastewater management infrastructure. As part of the project, pipes will be installed under Rockville Centre’s baseball fields, at Lister Park, to help direct treated sewage five miles out into the Atlantic instead of into Reynolds Channel. “It’s the right thing to do for our environment,” Conlon said.
The state is offering a financial incentive for the project: The village would receive $1.2 million in additional state revenue. “This is something that’s very important not only to our financial stability, but most importantly, to the ecological sustainability in and around our community,” Grillo said.
On the subject of revitalizing downtown Rockville Centre, Conlon touted the Chamber of Commerce’s promotion of new methods of operation for businesses during the pandemic, and the Police Department’s efforts to minimize traffic caused by double-parking. Grillo suggested that to help local businesses and to further reduce double parking, the village organize a staging area for Uber Eats, DoorDash and other food delivery services.
Albarano said he believed in improving the “walkability” of the village by creating more distinct crosswalks and adding signage to slow vehicles and create a safer environment for pedestrians. He also suggested enhancing hometown pride by putting up banners for the village’s schools — Molloy College and South Side high and middle schools — to highlight local students and athletes as well as the institutions.
The video of the forum is available on the village’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and at rvcny.gov under the social media tab.
The election is next Tuesday.