Citizens’ Party of Floral Park Hosts First Community Forum

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Trustees Tweedy and Rhatigan Seek Re-election on March 16

The Citizens’ Party of Floral Park held their first community forum on Feb. 17, at the American Legion Hall. Party Chairman John Lockwood led off the evening’s festivities to an intimate crowd, featuring an agenda that covered topics ranging from the upcoming village trustee election, to snow removal and future tax increases.

Lockwood created these community forums to encourage all concerned village residents, members and non-members alike, to discuss jobs, taxes, the economy and quality of life issues. The meeting started off with a discussion of the upcoming election on March 16. Lockwood stated that the party “filed the last set of signed petitions, with a total of 405 all together.” He also told the members of the audience that as of now, the trustee election is uncontested.

Trustee Jim Rhatigan, a 29-year Floral Park resident, was on hand to give his trustee’s report, as he is the liaison to the Floral Park Fire and Police departments. Rhatigan thanked the fire department for their service, which recently saved two lives. “I think possibly most of you are aware that the fire department responded to a house fire on Oak Street. By the time the engines had arrived, the fire was given a little bit of time to grow. Once on scene, they did, as we would expect, a professional job to knock down the fire as quickly as possible to minimize damage,” Rhatigan stated. He added that the two residents were transported to the hospital and were not seriously injured.

In addition, Trustee Rhatigan reported that the fire department is seeking a new application for a grant. “They are currently now in the process of working toward a purchase of a significant number of what they call ‘bunker gear,’” Rhatigan explained. He noted that while most people may first think firemen’s gear simply consists of a helmet, a coat and a pair of boots, the equipment has actually become much more intricate now and is costly. He also detailed news regarding the police department’s most recent recruits. “We’ve had appointed three new patrolman. Two of them come to us from the City of New York force.”

Trustee Rhatigan ended his speech with a brief statement on the upcoming election. “We are currently in campaign season and we are thankful that at this point in time there seems to be no known opposition. No one has submitted independent nomination petitions against us,” he explained. “I would still ask and encourage you to come out and support Tom Tweedy and me and the Citizens Party by extension on Election Day, on March 16.” He also pointed out that good government does not come “without the hard work of a lot people and coming through this campaign season.”

The second Floral Park trustee up for re-election was Deputy Mayor Tom Tweedy. A lifetime resident of Floral Park and liaison to the Department of Public Works, Tweedy began his discussion by thanking the Department of Public Works for their cleanup efforts in both snow and garbage removal. “Floral Park, as in the Citizens’ Party motto, is ‘a good place to live, raise a family and to do business.’ And I really do appreciate our Public Works and they are our everyday heroes,” he said. Trustee Tweedy continued to praise the citizens of Floral Park, who he says have really taken an interest in recycling over the past two years. He explained that newspapers have become a commodity. “People are paying attention to reduce our waste stream,” he said.

Tweedy also explained that he believed the town’s housing market was holding and that there is activity in home sales. “The vitality of our community remains strong and I think in no small measure to the efforts of everyone in this room, certainly our Mayor Kevin Greene and those who have gone before us,” he said. Tweedy thanked other members of the board past and present and Mr. Lockwood for their joint efforts, as they work to get re-elected in the coming weeks.

While the forum was designed to encourage community participation, there were only a handful of residents who braved the weather to make their voices heard. One woman expressed her gratitude to two employees from the Department of Public Works, who came to her aid when she was having trouble getting a light fixture out of her ceiling. She asked them if they would mind helping her and the two workers were extremely accomodating.

A special guest to visit the forum was former mayor Phil Guarnieri, who was present to encourage the citizens of Floral Park to become active members of the forum. “You have this very hometown feeling here in this community, and I feel that it’s something that’s resonated with all of us where we felt very strongly during our centennial year, where there was tremendous community pride, pride in our civic leadership and confidence in our future. So, I think the Citizens’ Party has really been a centerpiece in the success of Floral Park, it has been a leading force in terms of providing leadership since 1928. That’s 82 years,” he told the audience. He added that every mayor of Floral Park has emanated from the organization and this forum is a great way to get young people involved in local government. “You really want to reach out to the community and have them reach out to you,” he stated.

The meeting ended with a word from Mayor Kevin Greene. He thanked Public Works for doing a “fantastic job” clearing the streets. He did admit that the department faces many challenges at this time of year and stressed the importance of digging out fire hydrants after a snowstorm. “We are going to talk with the Water Authority and see if they can get those flags that mark hydrants,” he stated, adding that people should still be mindful. “I don’t want people to think they still shouldn’t shovel it out,” he said.

Discussion quickly turned from shoveling to taxes. The mayor admitted he was pretty happy with the budget proposals thus far, after receiving reports from his various department heads. He did say that they were able to lower the operating budget by $6,000 last year, and his entire staff is working hard to lower costs. “It’s important, none of us want a tax increase. I am not promising you that there won’t be a tax increase. I am sure it’s going to be a tax increase. At this point, we are looking in the area of probably close to 5 percent. It may be a little higher or maybe a little lower, but we are focusing in that area. It’s something that people should know. It’s not going to be a secret and it’s something that’s coming our way. But we’re going to keep working on it and we are going to do what we can to get it as low as we possibly can,” he said.

The evening ended with an announcement that Senator Craig Johnson will be the guest speaker at a Community Forum meeting on May 19; and Bill Corbett Sr. will host a presentation on June 16, to discuss his meetings with presidents of the United States. To learn more about the Citizens’ Party, visit www.fpcitizensparty.com.

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