Donald Badeczewski will replace Guy La Motta as chairman of the Manorhaven Waterfront Committee, Mayor Jim Avena said.
Badeczewski, 34, a committee member and secretary who also serves as the village’s court clerk, will take over immediately, Avena said.
“I made a change to move this project along more quickly,” Avena said. “Guy was not available until April and there was some concern that Guy had self-interest involved. I decided to do this for fairness, to appoint someone who had no stake in waterfront property.”
La Motta, the owner of the Manhasset Bay Marina on Manhasset Isle in Port Washington, was criticized by residents who said he was making suggestions that would benefit him in developing his property.
La Motta will continue to serve on the committee. He could not be reached for comment.
Badeczewski, who has lived in Port Washington for two years, has a background in law, but said he’s more of a “facilitator” and will bring “knowledge on how to run a committee.”
“I don’t have the same subject-matter knowledge of the other committee members, but I have a strong background in organization and skills I can bring to get things done in an organized manner,” he said. “And I have no stake in the waterfront.”
Originally from Michigan, Badeczewski said, he grew up in a waterfront community similar to Manorhaven, and then moved to a waterfront community in Westchester.
“It’s really in a lot of ways similar to when I lived in Westchester, so I feel comfortable in a waterfront community,” he said.
Badeczewski worked as an attorney at Cohen & Gresser in New York City, practicing different types of law, he said, but working for a village has been different.
“I really like working for the community,” he said. “It’s great because after years of working for clients, I’m finally working for a community in which I live in.”
The waterfront committee, an advisory group, was set up by Avena in June after the village passed a six-month waterfront building moratorium.
The committee has met monthly and discussed possible ideas for the village’s waterfront properties, which it will present to the Board of Trustees.
Some residents have criticized the committee, specifically La Motta, for being in favor of developing the waterfront rather than preserving it, and were nervous the board would not extend the moratorium.
Avena backed the moratorium’s extension at December’s board meeting and said the village must be fair to both members of the community and people who wish to build on the waterfront.
“To be fair and responsible representatives of our community, we must listen to all points of view and carefully evaluate the alternatives,” Avena said last month.
The proposal to extend the moratorium, which expired on Dec. 22, is awaiting approval from the Nassau County Planning Board. If it is not approved, the Board of Trustees can pass it with a supermajority of four of five votes.
A lawyer representing Thypin Steel, an 11-acre property on Manhasset Isle that was approved for a 96-unit residential development in 2003, sent a letter to the village last month saying the waterfront moratorium does not meet legal standards.
Village Attorney Steve Leventhal rejected Thypin Steel’s argument, saying, “I am confident the village is proceeding properly and legally.”
Avena said the waterfront committee will meet the board at its February work session to discuss its approach.
At last month’s meeting, Avena also said he is in the process of making other changes to the committee, including hiring professional consultants.
Badeczewski said he wants the committee to bring in a professional engineering firm to make recommendations.
“I think Donald will do a great job” Avena said. “He’s well-balanced and offers a lot of insight on the waterfront and can steer meetings in the right direction.”