4-way race in Rockville Centre for 2 trustee seats

The Village of Rockville Centre was established in The Village of Rockville Centre was established in 1893. According to the 2010 Census it is home to more than 24,000 residents. (Oct. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

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In Rockville Centre, two issues are perennial: parking and taxes. And they top the list of concerns in this year's village trustee election.

Four candidates -- a pair of incumbents and a pair of challengers -- are competing for two four-year seats on the five-member trustee board.

The candidates are spread across three parties. Incumbent Edward Oppenheimer is a member of the Concerned Citizens party, incumbent Kevin Glynn is the leader of the Common Sense party, and challenger Marc Wieman is running on his Rockville Centre Forward party. Challenger Emilio Grillo is running with Glynn on the Common Sense ticket.

All four candidates agree Rockville Centre's downtown parking crunch is a persistent issue for the village of about 24,000, and that the village should seek to rein in its tax rate, which went up 4.2 percent this year.

"Downtown parking has got to be addressed," said Oppenheimer, a trustee for the last four years. "It's an expensive proposition, especially when you don't have land."

Oppenheimer, 60, a certified public accountant with an office in the village, said Rockville Centre could create 300 to 600 spaces downtown by reconfiguring some of the existing parking lots. There are about 3,300 parking spaces in the village, including street parking and lots, he said.

Oppenheimer also said the village could save money and reduce the tax load by collecting and recycling paper from residents and merchants.

"That's money being thrown out," he said.

Glynn, 36, an attorney with a Bethpage firm, said parking problems downtown are "a symptom of our success," and that the village recently addressed the issue by ending metered parking at night. The downtown vacancy rate is about 4 percent, he said, which speaks to the health of the village's commercial center.

Rockville Centre could address its parking woes by reconfiguring some lots and directing residents to underused lots, Glynn said.

But, he added, managing the village's $41.8 million budget -- which grew 2.1 percent this year -- is the most pressing concern.

"If we marry the budget increase to the rate of inflation, we'll see the smallest burden on our residents," said Glynn, a four-year trustee.

Glynn's running mate, Grillo, agreed that the village can steer consumers toward underutilized parking spaces downtown. He added that seeking nontax revenue, such as grants, is a priority.

Grillo, 47, a Manhattan attorney, said the village would have to explore the cost of reconfiguring parking before making any changes.

"You've got to have a real cost-benefit analysis," Grillo said.

Wieman, 56, is a retired lawyer who worked as a deputy Nassau County attorney for about five years in the 2000s. He said parking is the "biggest issue" facing the village. He said the village should build a downtown garage -- which it would pay for with bonds -- to make parking more manageable.

Wieman added that the village should work more closely with the local school district to keep taxes down, because school taxes make up the bulk of the bill.

"The second-biggest issue is taxes," he said.

The results of the election will not affect control of the village trustee board, as the Rockville Centre United party -- which includes Mayor Francis X. Murray and trustees Nancy Howard and Michael Sepe -- will retain three seats on the five-member board regardless of the outcome.

Voting is June 18 at the Anderson Recreation Center, 111 N. Oceanside Rd., from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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