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2011: The Year In Review

Villages Remember 9-11 Victims; Homecomings for Servicemen, Musicians And Michael Epstein

As with villages all across Long Island, village officials in Roslyn and East Hills marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center by honoring the residents who perished on that day.

The occasion was a particularly melancholy one in Roslyn as two brothers, Thomas and Peter Langone, members, respectively, of the New York City Police and Fire Departments were among those who entered the skyscrapers in order to save lives. Also remembered was Arlene Fried, a longtime resident of East Hills. A park in that village is named in her honor and that is where an especially moving memorial service was held last September. Other local victims who were honored once again this past fall were: Robert J. Baierwalter, Michael Cahill, William Chalcoff, Jonathan M. Connors, Robert J. Foti, Brett O. Freiman, Michael Haub, Robert Hussa, Douglas Jason Irgang, Joseph Maio, Stuart Meltzer, Marcus R. Neblett, and John M. Paolillo.

The Village of Roslyn also held its own ceremony on the Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower lawn.

The clock tower was in the news for 2011 for another reason. Village officials approved a renovation plan, one that would have the tower’s clock hands working so that the structure can finally give residents and passerby’s the correct time. Village officials hope to have the renovation project completed by the spring of this year.

Financial Angel Needed for ‘Horse Tamer’

In other news, the proposed acquisition of the Roslyn Country Club by the Town of North Hempstead continued to draw crowds to town meetings.

A new organization, “Quiet Skies Over North Hempstead” was formed in Port Washington, one designed to track airplane and helicopter noise following the implementation of new flight design patterns for incoming flights to John F. Kennedy Airport, patterns that organizers say might bring more helicopter noise to the North Shore, including the Roslyn area.

The Roslyn School District, meanwhile, is looking for financial angels to help with the renovation of its landmark “Horse Tamer” statue, one that for decades stood in front of Roslyn High School and one that is also in dire need of repairs.

In New York State news, legislators approved a 2 percent budget tax cap, one that has been challenged by towns and municipalities across the island. In December, the Town of North Hempstead voted to override the tax cap, even though town council members claimed such an override would only mean miniscule tax increases for town residents.

As with the rest of Long Island, residents in the Roslyn area had to deal with the unfriendly September visit by Hurricane Irene. Fast work by workers in the Village of Roslyn helped keep damage to a minimum, while certain neighborhoods, such as The Pines and Marchant Park had to struggle with Irene’s wrath and confusion among out-of-state workers.

In political news, Mayor Michael R. Koblenz and his fellow board of trustee members on the Unity Party held off a strong challenge from Matthew Weiss and other candidates of the newly formed East Hills Advocacy Group party.

Mayor John Durkin was re-elected to another term as mayor in Roslyn, but Susan Ben-Moshe’s 12-year tenure as mayor of Roslyn Estates came to an end when she was defeated by Jeffrey Schwartzberg of his own newly formed party, TeamVisionRE. Hal Pasetsky and Stacy Carus, two incumbents on the Roslyn Estates BOT, also ran with Schwartzberg on the TeamVision ticket and were re-elected.

However, sad news came from the Village of North Hills election. Only one day after being re-elected to the board of trustees of that village, Gerard Cohen passed away, at age 66. “We sat there in total shock,” Mayor Marvin Natiss told The Roslyn News. “On Tuesday night, we were all happy. On Wednesday, we were numb; we were all upset and crying.”  Cohen’s contributions to the village included the adoption of the transportation survey, an emergency management plan, fire department redistricting and reduction in the village budget of over $100,000 as well as negotiating village employee wages.

In August, an era in local politics came to an end as Jack Russo retired as the longtime commissioner of the Roslyn Water District. But it was more than water supplies that concerned Russo. A former deputy mayor of East Hills, Jack played a huge role in helping to transform the Air National Guard base in East Hills to the Park at East Hills, easily the showcase of that village.

A former politician made some stunning news of his own in January. Gerson Strassberg, a longtime mayor of Roslyn Harbor, went public with two prized—-and historic—possessions. Strassberg owns two original New York Times printing plates, one of the Kennedy assassination in November, 1963 and the other—more pleasant news—the Apollo 11 moonwalk. He announced those possessions to the world in The Roslyn News with hopes of compensation, one that would go towards his grandchildren and great grandchild.

Another Roslyn resident made national news in the summer. A 33-year-old Herricks High School alumni, only known as JP, was chosen by a young woman, Ashley, as the object of her affections on the ABC series, The Bachelorette.

Homecomings Galore

2011 was also a year of big homecomings. Former night club impresario, Michael Epstein of My Father’s Place fame, returned to Roslyn and the Bryant Library in the spring to tout his new book, Fun and Dangerous about that same club, which showcased virtually every major rock and pop star of the 1970s and 80s.

Speaking of music, Roslyn native Sheri Miller also returned to the Bryant Library to play selections from her two critically acclaimed CDs, Mantra and Winning Hand.

On the service front, ENS Aaron L. Mitchem III, USN, briefly spent time at his home in Roslyn Heights after receiving his Chief Master-At-Arms commission at a ceremony at the Sesebo, Japan naval base.

Finally, the Bryant Library was home to its most celebrity-studded event in years as soap opera legend Susan Lucci gave a talk and book signing, celebrating her autobiography, All My Life. Ms. Lucci is a resident of Garden City, but in her youth, she recalled many pleasant visits to downtown Roslyn. In return, much of Roslyn turned out to her talk and signing.

Also on the book front, the Christopher Morley Knothole Association (C.M.K.A.) celebrated its 50th anniversary as it continues to uphold the reputation of the famed columnist-novelist-editor-poet-screenwriter who called Roslyn home for much of his adult life and of whom, of course, has a major public park in Nassau County named for him.

In sports, former Roslyn High School standout George Beamon continues to excel at Manhattan College as he hopes to upgrade his game into one of the elite guards of the highly competitive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

Final Farewells

2011, as any other year, saw the passing of many fine Roslyn patriots. That included Ray Jacobs, the village’s most accomplished and prolific photographer; Roberta Balfus, a longtime member of the Bryant Library’s Board of Trustees and an officer in Friends of Bryant Library; and Marguerite Galano, a longtime East Hills activist who founded the village’s successful Roslyn Interfaith Group.

Another solemn event occurred in June when East Hills native Tony Kulakowski, a disabled World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient, received full burial rites at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.