The United Residents Party led by Village of Great Neck Plaza Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen denied opponents’ claims last week that the Plaza lacked sufficient parking, was unfriendly to businesses and suffered from too many empty storefronts.
Rosen said in an interview with Blank Slate Media he does not see the empty storefronts as a problem, but rather an area for improvement.
“There are plenty of ways for our village to improve, just like any other village,” he said. “Filling up those stores with attractive businesses and keeping them there is a way we can improve.”
Rosen said he would hire a downtown recruiter specializing in finding ways for the village to attract and retain new businesses.
“I know from teaching business, a lot of people go into business and are very good at what they do, but not necessarily finance and management,” said Rosen, an associate professor at Queensborough Community College where he teaches business law. “There are tremendous services out there. We need to also concentrate on working with businesses that are already in the plaza to help them succeed.”
He acknowledged that the village had previously taken that step several years back, but said he would attempt to modify the process.
Rosen, a practicing lawyer, was first appointed to the board of trustees in 1985. He is running for mayor against Leonard Katz, for the seat held by Mayor Jean Celender for the past 20 years.
He is joined on the United Residents Party slate by cillage Trustee Marksheid and Michael Deluccia, chairman of the zoning board of appeals.
Marksheid and Deluccia are running against Siu Long Au (Alex) and Robert Farajollah, who are running with Katz as members of the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party.
Marksheid was first elected to the board in April 2008 after having served as a member of the zoning board of appeals. A New York City teacher for more than 30 years, she has served as executive vice president of the Great Neck South Middle School PTA, as a delegate to the American Federation of Teachers and as chapter leader of the United Federation of Teachers.
Deluccia, who joined the zoning board 10 years ago, also serves as president for the Cuttermill Road Owners Cooperative Board of Directors. He said he has been a Great Neck resident for more than 20 years.
All three candidates denied claims by Kaza and his running mates that the village is unwelcoming to potential new businesses.
“We want businesses here, and we want businesses to stay here,” Rosen said. “The changes in an online economy have affected downtowns throughout the country, not just us.”
According to figures provided by Rosen, the village has approved all 69 conditional-use permits that have been submitted to them.
Though Rosen did not have a number for how many of those businesses were still operating, he said the village is much more accommodating than some people believe.
“We have passed new zoning laws to help new businesses come here and build,” Marksheid said. “We are happy to work with people who want to expand or start their businesses in the plaza.”
Marksheid also said there were misconceptions about empty storefronts in the area.
“A lot of times, people will complain about empty storefronts that aren’t even in our village,” she said. “There may be a chain reaction with the rest of Middle Neck [Road] but our village can only fix what needs to be fixed in our village.”
Marksheid said there is a need to fill storefronts, and admitted that they can discourage new businesses from opening in the Plaza throughout the other villages on Middle Neck Road.
When asked about mixed-use developments in the area, Deluccia said that there is not much of an area for developers to come to build upon.
“There have been amendments to the zoning laws to be flexible with business owners,” Deluccia said. “We aren’t anti-business at all, but our main priority in the village is the safety of the residents.”
In response to claims that the village does not have enough parking, Rosen said almost 900 out of the 1,622 parking spots in the village are street-metered parking.
He also noted that there is unrestricted parking in village garages after 3 p.m.
“When people say we should build more parking lots or spaces, we have no room to,” Rosen said. “Could we use more parking? Sure. Do we need more? No. Do we have enough sufficient parking now? Yes.”
When asked what he would do differently than Celender, Rosen said he is a different person, but would carry over and enhance some aspects of the previous administration.
“Jean is one of the most hard-working and dedicated public officials I have ever seen,” Rosen said. “I support many of the things she did, but I am my own person. I would continue and expand on what the administration under her accomplished.”
When asked why residents of Great Neck Plaza should vote for him, Rosen touted his experience working in the village.
“I have experience knowing how the village operates,” Rosen said. “I’m not going to make empty statements that lack specifics like ‘revitalize the downtown’. I have ideas and I can build on what we’ve done.”
Marksheid said she is concerned she has not seen two of the three members of the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party present during village meetings.
“Experience does count,” Marksheid said. “Mike has been coming to meetings here for years. You can’t just go running into a campaign and expect to be successful having no experience at a meeting. We have a pulse of the village.”
“I’m excited,” Deluccia said. “Unfortunately we get some bad press, but people I encounter are very pleased to be living here. I’m excited to bring my own opinions and ideas to the board from my experience in the village.”
Village elections will be held on Wednesday, March 18.