Residents clash over $3 million in funding

Sarah Minkewicz

With elections around the corner, tensions are flaring between Manorhaven residents on whether candidates are being honest about their accomplishments. 

Trustees Jim Avena and Priscilla von Roeschlaub recently said they helped the village receive $3 million from Nassau County to repave and improve Manorhaven Boulevard in Port Washington, but some residents disagree. 

“After reading the PWT’s write up on June 10 and hearing from a number of residents about these two trustees’ postings on their party’s web site, it appeared to me that these trustees were falsely insinuating that their efforts alone have resulted in additional funding for improvements of Manorhaven Boulevard, when the facts support that this was a concerted effort not by them, but by Mayor Giunta and Vision Long Island which began two years ago and has been ongoing,” Manorhaven resident and former Trustee Dorit Zeevi-Farrington said in an email. 

Zeevi-Farrington said after speaking with the village clerk, Leslie Gross, she was informed that Avena did not attend the meeting at all.

“Jim and I are a team and we work together,” von Roeschlaub said. “I’m very talkative and I have the gift of gab and I tend to take over.” 

The Manorhaven Watch Team Facebook page said that the artist’s rendering of   the streetscape on the Manorhaven Residents Party’s website is inaccurate. 

The post states, “The image of the streetscape rendering that is posted on Facebook and in the newspaper article does not reflect the $3 million amount they claim would pay for the cost of the one-mile road reconstruction project in Manorhaven.”

The facebook post said that what  “the Manorhaven Residents Party posted is actually for a $59 million project from 2015 in Glenwood Springs, Colo.. The Manorhaven Residents Party also posted on their website and in their brochure, a streetscape rendering that is for a $3.7 million project from 2005 in Niagara Falls.”

Efforts to reach the creator of the Facebook page were unavailing. 

Debbie Greco Cohen, chief executive of  Greco Integrated Communications, which supplied the photos, said they don’t pertain to Manorhaven at all because there are no plans yet and they are just intended to be sample streetscape images.

“There appears to be some confusion over an image submitted with a newspaper article about the $2 million in streetscape improvement funding that Jim Avena and Priscilla von Roeschlaub helped secure through County Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton,” she said. “The article clarifies that the project has not yet begun so it was assumed that readers would know the sketches were not real or at all representative of what Manorhaven Boulevard will actually look like when the project is completed. It is such a shame that some residents prefer to pick apart good work done on behalf of the village than be happy that Manorhaven Boulevard will become an amazing road.”

According to the 2016 Nassau County Budget and Capital Improvement Plan document, $3 million has been set aside for Manorhaven Boulevard and Manorhaven Road improvements. 

However, Gross said all capital project bonding is on hold and the village hasn’t received any funding for the project. 

“It’s very frustrating,” Gross said. “If they’re saying they have $3 million, they don’t.”

Gross said she pressed DeRiggi-Whitton to have Manorhaven Boulevard included on the list of county roads to be repaved, and  was told by Nassau County it would be repaved by November 2016, but it hasn’t happened. 

“For her [von Roeschlaub] to come out and say that her and Jim did this is wrong,” Gross said.

“How can they say we had nothing to do with it?” Von Roeschlaub said in response.  

Von Roeschlaub said she originally discussed adding a new bus stop shelter with Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, which then turned into a conversation about new sidewalks and curbs, building façade upgrades, benches, attractive streetlamps and plantings. 

“I said Delia while we’re on a roll her I’d like to have to sidewalks and curbs,” von Roeschlaub said. 

Officials said the amended plan was adopted by the Nassau County Legislature on March 7 and will enhance the entire mile-long stretch of Manorhaven Boulevard over and above the $1 million allocated by Nassau County to repave the entire road. 

Before construction begins, the village needs to conduct a traffic study, meet with residents and businesses to gain input, and get approval from the Nassau County Planning Commission.

Efforts to reach DeRiggi-Whitton for comment were unavailing. 

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Sarah Minkewicz

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