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Development at heart of race for Lynbrook mayor, trustees

A proposed apartment building project became a point of contention between the mayor running for re-election and his opponent, the deputy mayor.

Seats for mayor and two trustees are up

Seats for mayor and two trustees are up for election in Lynbrook. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The races for mayor and two trustee seats in Lynbrook pit challengers united in opposition to a recently nixed housing proposal against incumbents who say they are open to new development that maintains the village's suburban identity.

The campaigns leading up to the March 19 election have become increasingly rancorous, including allegations of corruption and backroom dealings as well as the public falling-out of Mayor Alan Beach and Deputy Mayor Hilary Becker, who is challenging Beach for mayor.

A key issue in the race is the so-called Cornerstone project, a controversial $75 million proposal to build a six-story, 200-unit apartment building in downtown Lynbrook. The village board voted against the project in November, and the developer formally withdrew his application last month.

But Becker and the newly formed Preserve Lynbrook party, which counts upstart trustee candidates Antoniella Tavella, 45, and Steven Liguori, 62, as members, continue to criticize Beach and the other village board members for having even considered the project in the first place.

"Even if the project was 50 percent smaller, it would still be too big," said Becker, 58, who owns real estate businesses in the village and was first elected trustee in 2009. "It should never have even seen the light of day."

Becker and Tavella said they would be open to new condominiums or town homes built for homeowners, but largely oppose the construction of new rental housing in the village.

"We don't need apartments in our village," said Tavella, who cited her background in accounting and project management and her local civic activism as qualifications for the post.

Becker said he would call for a strategic master plan for the village if elected.

Beach and the other members of the Lynbrook New Vision party, trustees Robert Boccio and Ann Marie Reardon, said they would consider development proposals, including those for new housing, if they aren't too large or impactful.

"We're all in favor of development that fits within the character of our village," said Beach, 64, a retired New York City firefighter who served as trustee from 2007 to 2017 and was appointed mayor in 2017. "You have to get the tax base up."

Boccio, 46, an attorney and professor at Columbia University who was first appointed to the board in 2017, said: "New housing and in some instances workforce housing would make sense, providing that the type of project … blends in with the community."

Reardon, 46, a secretary in a Uniondale high school and trustee since 2015, said the New Vision party's endorsements include the Lynbrook Police Benevolent Association and the Civil Service Employees Association. She cited staying under the state tax cap, road repairs, and beautification projects as some of the accomplishments of the current administration.

David O'Neill is also running for trustee, saying his experience as a real estate broker and Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce board member would enable him to "bring more of a business view to the village."

Like the other candidates, he said the Cornerstone project was "too big." But he said Lynbrook has a "serious store vacancy problem" and needs to be more open to new business and development to thrive.

"We need to stop being the village of no," he said.

O'Neill, 51, chided the current board members for their recent quarrels.

"We need to stop the fighting and work together," he said. "We're all neighbors, and we're going to be here after this election."

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