Come November, the presidential election won't be the only one that draws people to the polls. Closer to home, six candidates—three Democrats and three Republicans—will be vying for three open trustee seats in the Village of Mamaroneck.
In the next few weeks, Larchmont Patch will be running a series of Q&As with the candidates so you, the voters, know where they stand on issues impacting your community.
This week we'll be presenting the Village of Mamaroneck Republican Party candidates. Cucinella is running on the Independent and Conservative Party lines.
Bio: A lifelong resident of the Village of Mamaroneck who brings a strong governmental, business and family background to the position of trustee for the Village of Mamaroneck. He is the current code enforcement officer/inspector for the Village of Scarsdale. He has a strong understanding of the governmental process with particular emphasis on village government. Cucinella also brings a strong sense of family and involvement as a lifelong resident whose family has been in the Village of Mamaroneck since 1895. Further, Cucinella himself has always been active as a member of the Elks, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mamaroneck Historical Society and, in service to the Village of Mamaroneck government, as a current member of the Board of Architectural Review and, formerly, the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Larchmont Patch: What are some of the major issues facing residents in the Village of Mamaroneck?
Dennis Cucinella: Like my fellow running mates, we are all keenly aware, as is everyone who lives and works in the Village of Mamaroneck, that flooding, parking and taxes are and continue to be the main concerns. Taxes have always been an issue with our residents, and rightly so. We live in the highest taxed area in the United States, and continue to suffer from numerous unfunded mandates passed down by our county and state governments. We need to alleviate this burden by encouraging businesses and industry into our village to expand our tax base without putting the onus on the real estate based taxation on our residents.
Flooding has been a major problem, and I'm happy our Board of Trustees has recently had the language of the law changed to allow our neighbors to not be burdened with undue costs of raising thier homes above the floodplain, if associated costs of general repair are added to the threshold of overall costs related to flood repair. Flooding issues are also something I deal with in my capacity as a New York State certified code enforcement officer. We certainly need to dredge and to stabilize the embankments of the watercourses while educating the public as to what they can and cannot do to assist in this problem.
Parking is a bittersweet condition. This is because our village is a mecca for residents all over the county that like to patronize our wonderful array of dining establishments and shops. The downtown has become very vibrant, days and nights. There are a number of areas to look at for additional parking—the Spencer Place lot, behind the movie theater, and others. We must be careful though to weigh the pros and cons with our resident's and merchant's concerns, which is under current investigation by the mayor's ad hoc parking facilities committee. I fully support this intelligent and realistic approch to our obvious need of increased parking.
Larchmont Patch: As a board member, how would you help make the village a better place to live?
Cucinella: If successful in this election, I believe I can help our mayor and deputy mayor by trying to continue the success of bringing Mamaroneck back as the number one destination in Westchester County and where we are now: "The Friendly Village." That motto was painted on all the benches and bus stops and throughout the downtown area. People want to be part of the process of making Mamaroneck a better place, and there are many new residents with different backrounds that can assist us with many varied ideas. I would hope lots of people come foward with their experiences and share thoughts of how to make Mamaroneck better. It is my goal to reach out to the numerous community groups to enhance our current success.
Larchmont Patch: Tell me a little about your family history in the village. Has your family been here since 1890?
Cucinella: My mother's family (Lanza) came to Mamaroneck around 1895. They chose to stay here and, before long, many brothers, sisters & cousins (Rigano) settled here. At one time we have had (and may still have) one of the largest families in the village.
There were bricklayers, plasterers and carpenters. We've been clerks, merchants, factory workers, plumbers, electricians, bankers, mayor and village justice. All of them just loved living and raising families in our wonderful village, as have I, and I look foward to continuing my family's long standing tradition of community service and dedication to the "Friendly Village."
I was Rye Neck High School class of '64. My wife Bonnie (nee Thomson), was a graduate of Mamaroneck High School class of '65. Both my children graduated from Rye Neck; my son in '86 and my daughter in '90. My grandson attends the Mamaroneck Central School. My daughter and grandaughter live in Brewster.
Larchmont Patch: What made you want to run for the VOM board?
Cucinella: Having served our village in a number of ways: Little League coach, American Legion, Kiwanis, VFW, Elks Club, Board of Architechural Review, Zoning Board of Appeals and a short stint on the Tree Commitee. With some encouragement from our mayor, I decided to go for it. Once I learned that George and Mike were running as well, my mind was made up.
Larchmont Patch: Although there are many contentious issues in the village, one that seems to have resonated with local residents is a recent violation from the EPA that the village received for high fecal coliform counts in various spots throughout the village. Do you think this issue is one that can be resolved within a reasonable time frame and, if so, how?
Cucinella: The village and its residents need to take a proactive approach. We need to televise as much of our storm drain lines as possible to locate the sources of cross connections. Many homes have this condition and sometimes without the homeowner's knowledge. The Board of Health can assist us with this process and we can locate the sources by doing dye testing of storm lines from structures to our drainage system. This is something we have been doing in Scarsdale, where I work, with quite a bit of success. It's not an inexpensive proposition, but is something that must be done. Our rivers and streams must be kept clean to ensure our "jewel," the Harbor, is clean and healthy.
I do however, point out that this, in fact, is not a contentious issue as the current village administration and all residents of the village certainly have the same goal of the best environment possible. The village is currently addressing this situation, and I personally will have the benefit of my governmental experience in enhancing the village's positive approach to this problem.
Larchmont Patch: What are some possible solutions to the issues involved with waterfront development in the village? Do you think the codes need to be more or less stringent?
Cucinella: I believe our codes need to be more stringent with respect to waterfront developement. As the saying goes "They ain't making any more waterfront."
We need to insist that any development of waterfront properties are done with strict concerns involving placement of structures, especially with regard to impervious surfaces. Drainage on all new developement must be controlled. The current updating of the VOM LWRP [Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan] will address this concern, and I look foward to participating in the final draft.