By Maria Silsdorf
On Tuesday, March 20, the Ocean Beach Association hosted their annual Winter Meeting in NYC. Despite the impending nor’easter, attendance was strong with about 150 present. The OBA provided pizza and wine and a full agenda. Copies of the ferry terminal renderings and voter registration forms were available. Maria Silsdorf, President of the OBA, kicked off the meeting by thanking the audience, acknowledging the importance of the year round population on Fire Island, the terrible weather we have been having, and the capital investments and home improvements apparent throughout the village. A Treasurer’s Report was presented, and elections of the OBA Board of Directors were conducted by OBA Vice President Judy Gerardi. Maria Silsdorf, Gwen Silver, Edith Charlton and Gina Ragusa were re-elected to the OBA Board and four new Directors were elected – Jill Weinstein, Craig Sherman, Pam Nornes and Chris Brahe.
Holly Etlin, Co-President of the Ocean Beach Community Fund spoke briefly to review the OBCF’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the Village of Ocean Beach, as well as this summer’s events which will include Dock Concerts, the Annual Gala, the Ocean Beach Historical Society installations, and much more. Gail Stamler spoke about the June Flea Market which will benefit the OBFD this year. The new Quality of Life Chair Sally Shapiro, although not present, was introduced.
The next group of presenters provided updates on the State of the Village beginning with Linda Norris Stertz, who presented the Ocean Beach Life Guard report on behalf of her son, Chief Guard Nick Stertz. Nick has been focused on retention with 32 guards returning this summer, including some of our longest tenured and experienced guards.
Ian Levine, Chief of Ocean Beach Fire and Rescue spoke next, recapping last year’s call volume. The department is ready for service this year, and is celebrating 80 years! Ian provided several tips to ensure a safe season including how to properly store propane tanks at your home – on a solid platform and tethered, fresh batteries in your smoke detectors and new smoke detectors if more than five years old.
Ocean Beach Police Department Chief George Hesse spoke next. George proudly announced that several of his officers have moved on to the NYPD and the NY State Police. George and three of his full time men are also volunteer members and officers in the OBFD. George revealed that call volume and ticket writing were down last year, largely attributed to the cancellation of the 1 a.m. ferry.
Ocean Beach Mayor Jimmy Mallott wrapped up this portion of the meeting by reviewing the many capital projects underway including the Ferry Terminal, Windswept, the Safehouse, the new well, streets and more. The Mayor spoke about the need for long term planning and the need for all of us to be custodians of our future.
The meeting then focused on the upcoming June 1 elections in Ocean Beach. The positions to be elected are Village Justice, two Trustee positions and Mayor. Maria Silsdorf thanked Jason Bendicksen for his service and wished him well as Jason is not running for re-election. All declared candidates had been invited to address the audience.
Judge Wexler was not in attendance, but submitted a statement that Maria Silsdorf read on his behalf. His statement commented on his effort to balance the needs of the Village to ensure that those who are charged with violations understand that Ocean Beach is not a destination to come get drunk and act imbecilic and has been imposing maximum penalties for quality of life violations. Judge Wexler has also three times imposed maximum fines of $30,000 for group rentals. Judge Wexler lives in Islip and is available to the village year round.
There are five candidates for two Trustee positions.
Brian Power, currently a Trustee, is running for re-election. Brian stated that he was proud of the work that he and the current Board have accomplished. Brian said that what we have seen from him for the past three years is what we can expect to see for the next four years. Brian said that he consistently considers what is best for his family, and expects that this conclusion is probably what is best for your family. He tries to do the next right thing and strives to be balanced and fair. Brian thanked Jason as well for his service and congratulated and thanked all of his fellow candidates.
Tara Schoen Fishman addressed the membership next. Tara has spent every summer of her life in Ocean Beach, raised her kids in Ocean Beach, and stated that she is ready to take the next step, she spoke of her love of Fire Island, and her network of loving and lifesaving people at the beach. Tara spoke of the utmost importance of maintaining and increasing property values and reviewed her “top ten” list of issues and her focus on improving the quality of experience for both homeowners and visitors. She also noted her experience as a teacher and school administrator in NYC and as a realtor. Tara will host coffee at her house on Sundays in May.
Donald Livoti spoke next. Donny is a new year round homeowner in Ocean Beach, a member of the Ocean Beach Fire Department with strong family roots, and he wants to make a difference. Donny shared his email – Donald.Livoti75@gmail.com and encouraged people to reach out to him with comments, concerns and suggestions.
Steve Einig, who is a former trustee, focused on improving our quality of life and ensuring that revenue and expenses are appropriated fairly. Steve stated that he is very proud of his accomplishments as a Trustee and wants to be of service to the village. He is a real estate lawyer and has organized the children’s Sandpiper run for 25 years.
The final candidate, Dawn Hargraves, was not in attendance, but Joe Speranza spoke on her behalf. Dawn has been an attorney in Islip for 20 years, has been a member of the VOB Planning Board for several years and has many professional and philanthropic achievements. Joe said that Dawn is truly a lady.
The final candidate to speak was Mayor Mallott. Jimmy shared that he arrived in Ocean Beach in 1970 with nothing in his pockets. He has created a life here and has been able to give back. Jimmy focused on Hurricane Sandy and the immense rebuilding effort that has taken place these past five years. Jimmy wants the opportunity to finish this work and see the many projects underway to completion.
Maria Silsdorf is President of the Ocean Beach Association, a non-partisan, educational, civic organization, promoting the welfare of Ocean Beach, striving to improve the conditions in Ocean Beach Village for over 50 years.