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Benches, Beautification & Books

Wide range of issues covered by

Stewart Manor Board

The Stewart Manor Board of Trustees began its most recent meeting in high spirits, presiding from the newly-renovated, cherrywood justice’s bench in village hall.

Mayor Tangredi offered up thanks to the court system for providing the grant that paid for the improved bench. Trustee John R. Egan also was in fine fettle in his return after missing previous meetings due to health issues.

The board denied a request made by residents Neil and Gerry DeLeo seeking reimbursement for a tree they recently planted on their property. The DeLeos opted not to buy a tree pre-approved by the village but found another one to their liking that still fit the regulation outlined by the board.

“We’ve never paid a resident for planting a tree of their choice,” Tangredi said while handing down the decision.

Gerry DeLeo first petitioned the board in July, explaining that a tree on her property had been destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. The village offered to replace trees similarly damaged by the storm with one of five pre-approved species at no cost to the residents. But many of these saplings were out of stock when the DeLeos went shopping, and they found it difficult to make a decision.   

Neil DeLeo says he isn’t asking the board to pay for the planting, only the tree itself, which they would have provided anyway. He thinks his tree is comparably priced to those pre-approved, if not cheaper.

“Wouldn’t it be better to reimburse the resident directly instead of some nursery?” DeLeo asked.

Regulations regarding the trees ensure that nothing will grow up into the overhead power lines or grow root systems that could cause the sidewalks to buckle. The DeLeos purchased an ornamental plum for $125 that will grow to approximately 25 feet, which they say is in compliance with the code.

Trustee Michael Onorato supported the board’s decision and cautioned against the potential slippery slope of granting such a request. “We don’t want to establish a precedent.”

“You’re not just setting precedents, you’re dealing with human beings,” DeLeo responded.

One resident in attendance pointed out that she had also planted a tree of her choice years ago but received no reimbursement. If one person is granted one, others would likely come forward to make claims as well.

Trustee William Grogan made a motion to revisit the issue and determine whether or not the ornamental plum was in fact in compliance with the village code.

In response to several concerns raised at the last board meeting the village will schedule a meeting with the beautification committee as well as the department of public works to coordinate the fall plantings. According to Onorato, letters have been sent to all the store and property owners in the commercial district imploring them to “keep it clean and appealing.” Code enforcement will follow up with any violators.

The Elmont Memorial Library recently reneged on a deal to place a library drop box in Stewart Manor Village Hall. The box would have allowed the village’s elderly residents a more convenient option for returning books. According to the board, the deal was all but done before the library backed out at the last minute.

“They offered us the world and we got crumbs. Rocks, really,” said Tangredi.

A similar deal failed to pan out with the Garden City Public Library earlier in the year.

Tangredi urged residents to contact Library Director Dr.Roger Podell and Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, who represents Elmont’s district in the State Assembly, to plea for the drop box.