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Future of old plant, club are top election issues in Lawrence

Candidates in contested mayoral and trustee races in Lawrence say they are concerned about potential development at a decommissioned sewage plant in the village and the neighboring Woodmere golf club.

Current Deputy Mayor Michael Fragin, 44, is challenging incumbent Alex H. Edelman, 69, for the mayoral seat. The mayor’s term is two years and unpaid. The election is on June 19.

Stanley R. Kopilow, 71, is running against trustee incumbents Uri Kaufman, 54, and Syma F. Diamond, 41, . The trustee terms are two years, and the top two vote-getters win the unpaid seats.

Edelman, a 17-year resident of the village, is running for his second term. He was a trustee for two terms before winning the mayor’s seat. He owns a school bus company, an ambulette company and several assisted living centers but refused to disclose their names.

He said he opposes possible residential development at The Woodmere Club because it would cause additional traffic in Lawrence. Edelman said he has worked on flood mitigation, lighting and signage issues and the future relocation of the Peninsula Public Library to a larger facility during his tenure as mayor.

“The village has been running very well under my direction,” he said.

Fragin, a self-employed communications and political consultant, has lived in the village since 1999. He has been on the board of trustees for a decade from when he was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2008. He has been deputy mayor since 2016. He is a former Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department firefighter and a current emergency medical technician with Hatzalah.

Fragin said the village needs to improve the finances of the Lawrence Yacht and Country Club, as well as increase transparency and offer more services online for residents. He added that superstorm Sandy “exposed a lack of preparedness and a reliance on a lot of outside sources.”

“We just can’t continue to rely on the timetables of outside officials to get things done,” he said.

Kaufman, a real estate developer, is the president of Harmony Group Capital LLC and has lived in the village for 15 years. He is running for his second term and was a member of the Lawrence school board between 2006 and 2015.

He said he wants the village to “very carefully” study possible development of the decommissioned sewage plant on Rock Hall Road. He said he had previously thought a hotel might be possible on the site but has since realized it wouldn’t be feasible.

“A park is definitely a possibility, an assisted living [development] might be a possibility, houses might work also,” he said.

Diamond, a matrimonial lawyer who stopped practicing about five years ago after the birth of her youngest child, has lived in Lawrence for more than 13 years. She is running for her second term.

She said she is focused on continuing her efforts to make the village more family-friendly. She also wants to make sure that any development at the former sewage plant is kept in the “character” of the residential area.

“We’ll see what ideas come forward, but I’m cognizant that it’s in a residential neighborhood,” she said.

Kopilow is a criminal and matrimonial lawyer whose practice, Hopkins & Kopilow, is based in Garden City. He served a term on the Lawrence school board and has lived in the village since 1977.

He said he wants to see seven houses developed on the sewage plant land, but opposes residential development at the Woodmere golf club because it would contribute to additional congestion in Lawrence.

“It would be an absolute mega traffic jam, from the start of the day to the finish,” he said.

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