Mariann Dalimonte, executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, said she is running for the North Hempstead Town Board to bring back the voice of constituents.
“I am running because I feel that we currently don’t have a voice,” she said, citing a town project on Port Washington’s Main Street spearheaded by her opponent in the 6th District, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio.
North Hempstead’s 6th District comprises Port Washington and the villages in Manhasset.
“There was no merchant meeting. Not one merchant had a meeting with the councilperson,” Dalimonte said of the project. “There was no community meeting.”
She said the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, Residents Forward and the business improvement district were invited to a meeting with the town but they “don’t speak for the community.”
“I want to be accessible, I want transparency,” she said. “I want to host town hall meetings in the morning, in the afternoon, at night.”
Since she announced her candidacy, running as a Democrat, she said there have been town hall meetings all the time, which should be the standard, not because it is an election year.
She said her Republican opponent reaches out to community organizations, but falls short of engaging all of her constituents.
The fourth-generation “clam digger,” a term for some of Port Washington’s long-term residents, said she wants her constituents to feel as if they are a team.
“It will not be my way,” she said. “We are going to be working on this together.”
One of the issues she wants to tackle with a team mentality is the litter problem on Port Washington’s Main Street.
She said she wants to work with the Town of North Hempstead, the local merchants, code enforcement and the Port Washington Garbage District to brainstorm an action plan to solve the litter problem.
Dalimonte said she would also like to follow a commercial and residential property through the building process to better assess if it can be improved.
She likened streamlining the business process to experience she obtained when she served as director of operations for Epic Records Group.
“I would go through those policies and procedures and make them better, sometimes stricter, and make sure they were done the right way,” she said.
The town council hopeful said she would be in favor of mandating that all North Hempstead-issued building permits must be processed in a period of 90 days, unless there were variances involved.
In regard to the much-discussed Macy’s development, which is expected to include apartments, Dalimonte said she has concerns about the impact an influx of new students would have on the Manhasset school district.
“I would be against putting a little city down there,” she said. “I think it would destroy the Manhasset school district and I think there is a traffic issue right now.”
When asked how she would vote on proposed development projects in her district, she said she could not say because she would host a town hall meeting to hear what it is her constituents want.
Furthermore, she said she wants to meet with Port Washington residents to find out their vision for Port Washington.
“Between our boulevard and our bay, we need to have a vision,” she said. “We need to come together as a community and try to figure out what would be the best thing for our community.”
She said she thinks that stakeholders need to come up with a plan, then see what grants are possible and how to work it in to the town’s five-year capital plan.
Dalimonte said that in regard to medical marijuana, she thinks that dispensaries need to be spread further around Nassau and not just concentrated in the Town of North Hempstead.
She added that they should be located near medical facilities and she supports the town’s decision to prevent more dispensaries from coming within the town’s borders.
“That code can always be changed as times change,” she said. “They needed to put something in because they kept on looking at the Town of North Hempstead to put medical marijuana facilities.”
She also supported the town’s decision to implement a building moratorium on the Port Washington Waterfront Business District, but criticicized what she called a lack of productivity during the 18-month moratorium.
Dalimonte said she attended the town’s steering meeting on the waterfront zoning district in which organizations and certain residential groups were invited to participate and she said everyone else had to sit in the audience without the handouts the participating groups had.
“How are we supposed to participate if we’re not even allowed to get the tools that everyone around the table has,” she said.
For the waterfront district, she said she would like to capitalize on the area’s nautical roots and boost it toward becoming a destination location.
“Making it where the people who are coming from the city who want to spend a day trip here, they can come to this area and stay in the boatel,” she said. “Make it a weekend destination for people.”
Another one of her ideas is to try to bring North Hempstead parking tickets back to the town, instead of having them handled by the county, with the town only seeing a portion of the ticket revenue. She said she would work with the town to get state approval to authorize the municipality to rule on its own parking tickets and keep the fee, which is currently $85.
If elected to the Town Board, Dalimonte said she plans to resign from her post as executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District.
She stressed that she does not have any conflicts within the town if she were to serve as a councilwoman and that much of her campaign funding is from grassroots donors.
Next: An interview with Dina De Giorgio.