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Old Field mayor to step down after 12 years in office

Michael Levine, seen in 2017, has been the

Michael Levine, seen in 2017, has been the mayor of Old Field since 2008. Credit: Steve Pfost

Old Field Mayor Michael Levine will not seek reelection and plans to step down after 12 years in office.

Levine, 62, who has not faced an election opponent since first winning the seat in 2008, said in a telephone interview it was time to let a "fresh face" take command of the small North Shore village, which has about 900 residents and no commercial district. His last day in office will be March 31.

Trustee Bruce Feller, who is completing his first two-year term on the village board, is running unopposed to succeed Levine. Village elections are March 18.

“I just felt like it’s time to let someone else have the opportunity to take charge," said Levine, a partner with Islandia-based personal injury law firm Rappaport Glass Levine and Zullo. "I’ve enjoyed it. I kiddingly say, I don’t want to wear out my welcome. It’s been a good run.”

Levine said he will help an effort to restore the village's iconic Old Field Point lighthouse. He said the village has received a $275,000 grant from the state Dormitory Authority for the project, and the village plans to contribute $65,000. A nonprofit also is being formed so residents can make tax-deductible donations, he said.

Levine was mayor in 2018 when village residents clashed over a proposal to erect a 140-foot cellphone monopole in Kaltenborn Commons, a village-owned park. Proponents said it would improve cell service in the village; opponents said it would be ugly and emit dangerous radio waves.

The village board never voted on the plan and let it die, Levine said, adding that village officials are discussing plans to let a phone company install smaller cellphone transmission devices on telephone poles.

Feller said Levine was "unreasonably patient" during the often contentious meetings and made sure to listen to different points of view. He said the episode was typical of Levine's handling of difficult issues. 

“He always gave people the time that they wanted and he was particularly patient with them,” Feller said.

Levine said he was proud of helping the village formally join the Setauket Fire District in 2017, after district officials wanted to increase Old Field's annual payment for emergency services from $380,000 to more than $500,000. Village residents now pay taxes to the district and can vote in district elections, which they could not do before the merger.

He said he also helped the village, which operates on a budget that is less than $1 million annually, avoid potentially crippling lawsuits.

“I’m not sailing off into the sunset,” Levine said, adding he would miss ”really having my finger on the pulse of the village. … Knowing what was going on in the village is something I’m going to miss.” 

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