Local civic leaders county organization

Phil Corso

Local civic association leaders have expressed initial support for an effort to form a countywide organization that would allow homeowners to speak with one voice.

The effort is being spearheaded by North and Central Merrick Civic Association President Claudia Borecky, who has been active in recent debates over the proposed leasing of three local Nassau sewage plants.

Borecky has expressed concerns with the loss of local control under a plan by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to lease Glen Cove, Bay Park and Cedar Creek sewage plants to private companies.

But local civic association leaders say they see a much broader application for a countywide organization.

“Our eyes were opened up when we first heard about it,” Williston Park Civic Association President Bob Mitchell. “One little civic association in the area might only have a limited voice, but their concerns are something all of us share.”

Mitchell said Mangano’s plan to combine Nassau County’s eight police precincts offers an example of an issue that might benefit by civic associations banding together.

“All the things they say they’ll do are probably true and might eventually save money,” said Mitchell, a retired Nassau County police captain. “But what I’m concerned about is the quality of police service and the attention paid to the local areas might suffer.”

With help from the new county coalition, Mitchell said more voices could mean more influence in the discussion.

“This is probably a good idea,” Mitchell said. “We have a tendency to focus on things directly in our neighborhood. Meanwhile, what the county does is not often subject to much scrutiny.”

Mitchell said he was seeking volunteers to work with a countywide organization until it is more formally established. He said he still needs to speak to his membership to determine whether or not they’re interested in joining.

Marianna Wolgemuth, president of the Lakeville Estate Civic Association in New Hyde Park, said she would participate in the coalition but planned to proceed with caution and maintain a neutrality-first mentality on the issues

“It really depends on who stays active in the coalition and which areas are represented consistently,” Wolgemuth said. “It’s important that we all work as one unit to achieve whatever we set out to.”

“It’s wonderful and it works,” she added. “But it does tend to go dormant if those involved don’t stay in constant communication.”

Borecky, who is one of the founding members of the Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations, said she has been contacting various local civics to join the organization.

She said her effort was prompted by Mangano’s plan to privatize the three sewage treatment plants.

Mangano has said that private ownership of the plants would “increase efficiencies” and protect taxpayers and the environment. But Borecky said the move could be a threat to local control. She said that forming a group of various civics would bring more of a voice to the debate, rather than having individual heads fight the same battles.

“We’ve rarely had a united voice on the same issue,” Borecky said. “It’s a bridge between the two shores, but it’s really about Nassau County.”

“This coalition could give us a stronger, more united voice,” Borecky said. “Hopefully, we can do something that could affect the entire county.”

And though Borecky said that she’s received consistently positive support of the county coalition, there were still some concerns expressed by some civic association heads.

Long-term sustainability of the coalition was of no concern to Borecky, who said that there will always be countywide issues that might affect different civic associations.

Borecky, who ran for town council in the town of Hempstead last November and lost, said the new coalition was still in its infancy and had plenty of new ground to cover. With only a few meetings under its belt, the next step for the NCCCA will be appointing some new directors.

At the Feb. 13 meeting, Borecky said the group will nominate directors according to assembly districts and nominate regional directors while setting up different committees. The organization, Borecky said, was crucial to the sustainability of the group.

“I see this as a voice of the community to deal with issues that come up and affect us all,” Borecky said. “Right now, it’s the sewage plant issue. But we’re going to fight all county issues that we might face.”

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Phil Corso

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