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In Westhampton Beach election, sewers on Main Street is a campaign issue

Two Westhampton Beach Village board members are facing a challenge from two business owners in an election next Friday, as officials debate installing sewers in an attempt to revitalize the community's Main Street.

Rob Rubio, owner of a local auto repair and sales shop, and Brian Tymann, a solar energy consultant who recently started a cigar company, are running on the Our Village Party line. They are trying to unseat four-term incumbent Hank Tucker and two-term incumbent Patricia DiBenedetto, who are running on the Lightning Party line.

Rubio and Tymann said they want to bring sewers to Main Street to allow for more restaurants, bars and commercial buildings. They said Westhampton Beach's business district, once teeming with tourists and a vibrant nightlife, has grown sleepy over the years.

"Everything revolves around business, jobs," said Rubio, 49, owner of Rubio Premier Motors in Westhampton. "I live in the village, and I want to walk downtown and go to the store."

Tymann, 39, who started Hampton Cigar Company in Riverhead last year and has worked as a solar energy consultant since 2012, called sewers "absolutely essential."

"It's been talked about for well over 10 years," he said. "We're very restricted with what we can do on Main Street with kitchens, restaurants, bars."

Tucker and DiBenedetto said the village board is already exploring extending the sewer system at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton to Main Street -- and while it has environmental benefits for nearby bays, the tax and planning implications must be considered.

"I'm not just going to do it because developers and Realtors and plumbers or people who have a vested interest start pushing for it," said Tucker, 54, who owns Holey Moses Cheesecake in Westhampton. "As I knock on doors and talk to all the residents in the village, people want vibrancy, but what cost are they going to pay for sewers just for downtown?"

DiBenedetto, 53, who served on the planning board before becoming a trustee four years ago, said sewers could open the door to unwanted development. "My priorities are to address all environmental issues and concerns," she said.

"I believe the character of the village must be intact and not fall prey to overdevelopment."

Tucker and DiBenedetto said they want to continue a plan to beautify downtown by altering sidewalks and landscaping.

Voting is at Village Hall from noon to 9 p.m. on June 19.


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