Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 01 April 2011 00:00
After eight years of serving on the Garden City Village Board of Trustees, Mayor Robert J. Rothschild, a 28-year resident, held the gavel in his hand for the very last time as he presided over his final board meeting in recent weeks. Next month, Mayor-Elect Donald Brudie will take the reins along with four other Community Agreement candidates who prevailed in the village election held on March 15.
At the most recent board meeting, the mayor offered his sincerest thanks to the residents for their good wishes as he heads off into retirement. The mayor also congratulated the newly elected Community Agreement candidates and praised the opposing Garden City Residents Party and their supporters for what he called a “well run and very honest campaign.”
When Rothschild began his term two years ago, he stated to the audience that there was a discord on the board of trustees due to several major issues that were before them. “My hope for the two years to follow was that this board could work as one (which obviously did not mean we would always have 100 percent agreement)…but we needed to both build consensus and do so in a civil matter. My emphasis was and remains on ‘civil,’” he said.
Rothschild maintained there were a number of issues that the board needed to move along in the decision process for the betterment of the entire village, while keeping in mind a few basic principles. He said trustees must also realize that not everyone will agree all the time.
“However, both residents and trustees need to understand that we are residents and taxpayers as well as trustees. We are elected to always do the right thing, while at the same time, using all our efforts to keep our costs and expenses at a manageable level while continuing to deliver acceptable and efficient level of services we all contemplated when we made that great decision to live in Garden City,” the mayor said.
“I think we were successful at keeping the ‘civility’ at a very high level and we were able to proactively build Board consensus with the strong support of the POAs (Property Owners’ Associations) on a number of issues that affect this Village,” he said. “We expected Garden City to be a special place to live for our families, and it will continue to take a concerted and cooperative effort of resident volunteers and village staff to coordinate those efforts.”
The mayor publicly thanked John Demaro, the newest trustee elected to the board. “Our initial relationship may have gotten off to a bumpy start a few years back but John stuck with his sincere desire to get involved and he worked diligently with the POA to ultimately garner the faith and confidence of the Estates POA membership and to now be the elected Estates Trustee,” he said.
Rothschild also emphasized the importance of the POAs to help get the voices of the residents heard on important projects such as the Nassau Coliseum HUB; the LIRR Third Track Expansion, the upgraded war memorial and St. Paul’s.
The mayor, who has lived in the village of Garden City for 28 years, said he loved every minute of his time in office, especially after the outpouring of voter participation in the recent election. “I could not be more proud of being a resident in this village. This village did not achieve the status of a great community to live in without hard work and effort from decades of volunteers and that was evident over the last couple of months. I know we continue to be in difficult times but I do think we can and must preserve the heritage of Garden City with the talent, motivation and experience on this board,” he said.
In one of the more poetic moments of the night, the mayor read an adage from a New York Council of Mayors publication: ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.’
“I think this statement summarizes the situation this board found itself in two years ago and I truly believe we learned to dance in the rain. As a board, I believe we always attempted to view our decisions from a perspective of ensuring that such decisions would have a long-term positive effect on the future of Garden City. I said if we could not do that we were probably sitting in the wrong chairs,” he said, adding “I am confident that this new board will not wait for the storm to pass. I am sure this new board of trustees will continue to dance in the rain and work diligently and again, we expect, with all residents, in a civil manner to support and challenge village staff to deal with all the issues before it.”
The mayor also thanked his wife, Valerie and daughters, Claudia and Claire, for their support for all the time he was out of the house. “They will need to come up with new questions for what I will be doing with my free time since they probably won’t be able to ask me their customary question of ‘what meeting do you have tonight?’”
After a litany of praise from village department heads and trustees, residents also got up to thank the mayor for his service. John Demaro spoke to the bumpy start that the mayor alluded to. “I think we did get off to a little bumpy start in the beginning but, at that time, you ran a class campaign…You put in so much time to this job…I just want to tell you that we could not have had a better representative and I thank you for all your time,” he said.
Tom Pinou, the outgoing WPOA president and school board trustee, thanked the mayor for his service, which he said adds up to about 60 hours a month of meetings. “We did see a difference in this village. I know the residents told me that; I know it’s evident in a lot of things,” he said.
Althea Robinson, executive director of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce, thanked Rothschild personally, and on behalf of chamber for his help. “You have been an advocate of the business community…you have guided us, you have informed us,” she said.
Resident Jerie Newman gave a short and sweet praise for the mayor: “I’ve known a lot of mayors here in this village for a lot of years and you’re up there with the best of the best,” she said.