Floral Park civic associations hold joint meeting
At a joint meeting of all four Floral Park civic associations held at the Floral Park Recreation Building on Thursday, March 8, incumbent trustees Kevin Fitzgerald and James Rhatigan addressed the audience in their respective bids for re-election to a two-year term. Members from the Hillcrest, North End, South Side and West End Civic Associations piled into the meeting, which was moderated by West End President Perry Criscitelli.
Although the election to be held on Tuesday, March 20, is uncontested, both candidates — who are running on the Citizens Party ticket — delivered heartfelt speeches about their experiences in the village and their reasons for seeking re-election. “It’s been an honor” serving as trustee for the past year, said Fitzgerald. “I look forward to another two years of serving this great village and continuing to make it a great place to live, work and raise my family and help everyone else,” he said.
Fitzgerald, who is currently the Floral Park Library commissioner and liaison to the Beautification Committee, MTA and Hillcrest Civic Association, dug his heels into community affairs in 2004, when the threat of the MTA’s third track ran rampant through Floral Park and surrounding communities. A resident of Charles Street, which is adjacent to the LIRR tracks, he immersed himself in conducting research, speaking to local officials and attending MTA meetings to advocate why a third track was not a good idea for Floral Park. Subsequently, he got involved with the North End Civic Association and became secretary after a year – a position he credits with giving him the opportunity to learn the “ins and outs” of goings-on in the village.
While the MTA third track was Fitzgerald’s plight, Rhatigan has similarly taken on Belmont Park, specifically his desire to “keep the ‘park’ in Belmont Park.”
“Jim is a tireless guy,” said Criscitelli. “He monitors that Belmont Park like you wouldn’t believe.” As chairman of Floral Park’s Task Force for the Preservation and Improvement of Belmont Park, Rhatigan works closely with Mayor Thomas Tweedy and task force members to protect the interests of residents with regard to the proposed casino at Belmont.
Rhatigan currently serves as deputy mayor and liaison to the police department, building department and the Emergency Management Committee. He previously held posts as the village fire commissioner, library commissioner and recreation commissioner, as well as serving as liaison to the Beautification Committee, Heritage Park Committee, Citizens with Disabilities Committee and the Conservation Advisory Council. Additionally, he served as the Grand Knight for the Floral Park Council of the Knights of Columbus.
As he addressed the audience on March 8, Rhatigan spoke of everything from his experiences coaching girls soccer to how the community rallied to offer support when his wife passed away several years ago. “That’s what we do in Floral Park,” he said. Community members looking out for one another is all part of what Rhatigan refers to as the “Floral Park experience.”
The underpinning of that sense of community lies in Floral Park’s infrastructure, Rhatigan suggested. “The pride that we have in Floral Park is very much a factor of our professional employees in all departments,” he said.
A former trustee who spoke at the meeting testified to the humbleness with which both candidates spoke. Serving as a trustee is “a very difficult job. It’s a very stressful job …They spend lots of hours away from their families. … I don’t think most people appreciate all that goes into being a trustee,” he said. He encouraged residents to take a few minutes out of their day to vote, despite the election being uncontested, to give the candidates an “affirmation that we appreciate what they do.”
Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, at the following locations: John Lewis Childs School (Districts 1, 2, 3, 7 and 9), the Atlantic Avenue firehouse (District 4), the Recreation/Pool Building (Districts 5 and 12), the Holland Avenue firehouse (Districts 6 and 10) and Floral Park Memorial High School (Districts 8 and 11). Residents can call Village Hall at 326-6300 for additional information.