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. Belsito will be running on the Independent and Conservative Party lines.
Bio: Belsito is a retired employee of the Westchester Joint Water Works, has strong experience in civil engineering and distribution operations, including public contracting law, competitive public bidding, environmental problems & controls, sanitary sewer design and stormwater management. His 18 years of management and supervision in various positions offers great strength on the Board of Trustees.
Larchmont Patch: What are some of the major issues facing the Village of Mamaroneck?
George Belsito: Taxes, flooding, parking and increased revenue have always been major concerns to the residents and businesses. Taxes are a lifeline to preserving the integrity and ambience that put Mamaroneck in the forefront of other communities. However, spending and taxes are a double-edged sword. Spending must be monitored and controlled in the best interest of the village. We must provide an opportunity for younger residents to be able to live in an affordable community while enjoying the same quality of life issues Mamaroneck has offered in the past. This requires a constant review of opportunities to seek the increased revenues (i.e. parking structures) needed to control inflationary tax increases as well as creative self-help in mitigating flood conditions.
Flooding is a subject that effects all of us, whether you have experienced the trauma of watching these flood waters enter your home or having to pay for increased spending to repair flood damage to our infrastructure.
In 2007, I had first hand experience as a flood victim. That helpless feeling watching flood water surround your home knowing the battle is only to be lost. I have watched the frustration and desperation of my neighbors who have gone through this before.
We must find ways to control this problem. There must be a series of projects that must be initiated. Currently, one of those projects is under way at the Jefferson Avenue Bridge. Mayor [Norm] Rosenblum and Deputy Mayor [Lou] Santoro have begun our own self-help programs with silt removal from the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers on an annual basis. I also join in support of their latest statement that the VOM will purchase its own excavator to enhance our ability to further mitigate flooding conditions. We cannot wait for other levels of government, like the Army Corp of Engineers, but must move ahead with our own initiatives.
Parking in our business district is necessary for the growth of our village. I worked on the Avenue while attending school. The storeowner wouldn’t allow his employees to park in front of the store. He advised us that parking was for shoppers. The spaces must be turned over quickly for growth. It was then I realized how important and necessary parking meant for the preservation and well being of our community. Mayor Rosenblum, Deputy Mayor Santoro and the board have transformed the Avenue into a vibrant shopping and dining mecca, and their success demands additional parking structures to help ensure the continued vibrancy of the “Friendly Village."
Larchmont Patch: As a board member, how would you help make the village a better place to live?
Belsito: Staying focused is the key. Listening to our residents’ concerns. Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to do what’s best to maintain the integrity and stability of our village. We must look to control spending, increase revenue, prioritize capital improvements and continue to find a solution for controlling flooding. I want to continue to assist our mayor in keeping the village on solid ground.
Larchmont Patch: What made you want to run for the VOM board?
Belsito: I worked in public employment my entire working career at the Westchester Joint Water Works in Mamaroneck. Since my retirement, I want to continue to serve my village and the opportunity to serve as trustee is the best platform to realize my goal of dedication to my community. I am very pleased with the direction the village is moving. Mayor Rosenblum and Deputy Mayor Santoro have brought back the saying “Our Friendly Village”. I support their effort in keeping Mamaroneck first.
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?
Belsito: The environmental issues in the Village of Mamaroneck are important to all residents and businesses. The violation is not a result of an intended policy by the Village of Mamaroneck, but rather unidentified sources, which the VOM has and is consistently investigating while seeking those sources and methods to mitigate the pollution. This is not a political issue but one that numerous boards have been addressing the past several decades. The village has used smoke tests, changed local codes and is currently invested in qualified engineering firms to identify, comply and exceed minimum requirements.
Larchmont Patch: How will your training in sanitary sewer design and stormwater management help you with the solutions for the village's ongoing flooding issues?
Belsito: My training will expedite the understanding of how our system operates. Our DPW employees are highly qualified in these areas. I will be available to offer any assistance that’s needed from me. If any capital spending is needed, I will fully understand the scope of the work and what the project entails. My entire working career in the Water Works has been in construction and engineering. Repairs, piping and moving fluids are staples for other facilities as well.
Larchmont Patch: What do you think the village needs to do in order to better mitigate flooding?
Belsito: There are many areas that need to be addressed, as I previously noted. Locally, we must clear our river beds of garbage and other debris, remove excess and overgrown vegetation at the river banks and educate the public not to illegally dump.
I believe the waters that back up in Columbus Park are where we have to concentrate. We must find a solution to keep those waters flowing. We must research pumping to alleviate any backup for the duration of higher tides and to prevent escape.