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New Hyde Park mayor recalls 12-year run
New Hyde Park Village Mayor Daniel P. Petruccio, 53, announced on Jan. 3 that he will not be run for re-election after 12 years in the post.
Petruccio was raised in Brooklyn and moved to New Hyde Park to raise a family in 1986. He owned a discount variety store in Brooklyn for 16 years, but says he closed it down to raise his family in a safe village. He has been director of guidance at Chaminade High School in Mineola for 10 years. He also teaches 11th grade religion.
So, you won’t be running for re-election. Why is that?
I get total fulfillment in my full-time job. It’s so rewarding. I do this job [as mayor] because someone needed to do it, but honestly I don’t identify with this job. I give it my full effort, but my priority list goes as follows: family first, full-time job and part-time job. Being mayor isn’t designed to be a full-time job like some people make it. I’ll be the first person from my board leaving in 12 years.
Tell me some of your biggest accomplishments serving as mayor.
We’ve implemented a comprehensive improvement project involving roadwork and have found ways to fund several beautification projects within the village over the years. We have beautified the outside of Village Hall, installing an electronic sign and benches, fencing and gardening throughout pocket parks. We’ve planted shrubs near parking lots. I have also made it one of my goals to streamline financial and administrative operations. For example, we’ve reduced department heads.
Tell me about the business district in New Hyde Park.
The closest we have to a main street is Jericho Turnpike, but there are challenges. It doesn’t have that quaint feeling that many main roads can have. It’s a wide, state road. So, 10 years ago we began implementing “Operation Main Street,” which allows us to apply for grant monies to add brick pavers, new lighting and kiosks and beautify bus stations along Jericho Turnpike. This spring, we would like to put in center medians on Jericho Turnpike to take traffic calming measures, [and] make the road more pedestrian-friendly, installing more timers to help pedestrians cross the street and reduce dangerous turns into traffic.
Tell me how unique the village is and what it has to offer its residents.
We’re a very interesting village because it’s split into two townships. The southernmost half, south of Jericho Turnpike, is in the Town of Hempstead and almost everywhere above Jericho Turnpike is in North Hempstead. And an interesting tidbit is that this building, Village Hall, which was built in 1906, used to be the New Hyde Park Elementary School. My office used to be the principal’s office.
The village historian mentioned fire department competitions. Tell me more.
It was so foreign to me coming from Brooklyn until one summer night when I heard the revving of the fire engines. I lived near Tully Park, and that’s where the firemen would practice and compete, climbing fire truck ladders and rolling out the hoses. They still do it today, but in the spring. The competitions are designed to increase agility and response time of fire departments. It’s also for bragging rights.
To close out our discussion, tell me what you like most about New Hyde Park and what advice you would give the next mayor.
What I always loved most was the diversity of people living and working in New Hyde Park. My kids got a really great snapshot of what the world is like. They were exposed to people from various backgrounds and of different financial needs. I would give him the same advice our Village Attorney John Spellman gave me. Never refer to the village as my village because that implies that you own it. The village belongs to its residents and you are the voice of the residents. You serve them.