Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello began his second term Friday by vowing to make the city “a go-to destination for commerce, recreation, entertainment, culture and waterfront living.”
In a speech after his inauguration, Spinello touted the planned spring groundbreaking on a billion-dollar waterfront redevelopment that has been two decades in the making. That, along with other projects, would continue Glen Cove’s “transformation from a bedroom community to a destination location,” he said.
Before Spinello’s swearing-in, his six City Council colleagues also took the oaths of office. Four either ran on the mayor’s election slate or generally voted with the mayor as incumbents, giving Spinello another two-year term with a likely majority on most major issues.
Few if any matters divide city residents as much as the waterfront project, which with stores, parks, restaurants and 1,110 condominiums and apartments would remake 56 acres of what mostly had been contaminated industrial land. Opponents decry the scale of that project and others that they say would mar the suburban ambience of Glen Cove.
But Spinello said in his speech that those “whose agenda is preventing smart development at any cost” imperil city finances, because “when you don’t find new ways to build the city’s revenues . . . [you] place that burden on taxpayers.”
Anthony Gallo, who lost to Spinello 56 percent to 43 percent in the November election and is considering a 2017 rematch, said in an interview after the mayor’s speech that he agreed with Spinello’s vision of Glen Cove as a “destination.”
But Gallo, who until Friday had been a councilman and watched the address from the second-floor balcony, said the current waterfront proposal is too dense. He repeated his criticism of Spinello’s willingness to consider up to $100 million in tax increment financing bonds to help pay for part of the project. The mayor argues that bondholders — not residents — would assume the risk with those bonds and portrays the waterfront development as critical to helping stabilize the city’s long-shaky finances and to attracting young professionals, empty nesters and new families to Glen Cove. Gallo said adding $100 million to the city’s current $60 million debt “could be devastating to the city.”
After the pageantry of the inauguration, the newly sworn-in council met for about 15 minutes to make appointments to management positions and city commissions and to approve 2016 contracts.
New Councilman Roderick Watson, who ran on Gallo’s slate, called for a “truce” between supporters and opponents of the mayor and urged an end to the “negativity” of Glen Cove politics, in which strident language during public comment periods at council meetings and online personal attacks are common.
“In order for Glen Cove to move forward, we need to stop tearing each other down,” he said.