Forty of Port Washington’s civic and business leaders gathered to meet newly elected State Sen. Jack Martins on Friday in the Hagedorn Room at the .
Mindy Germain, executive director of Residents for A More Beautiful Port Washington, which organized the event, told Martins about the people in attendance and the goals to make the community more "connective" as it aimed to transform the peninsula into a destination with thriving businesses and excellent schools, all the while remaining fiscally prudent.
“We work together to get things done,” she said.
Those in attendance were there to share concerns and talk about issues near and dear to their hearts. Among the issues: a more cohesive and business-friendly Main Street, affordable housing, programs for seniors, assistance for those who’ve lost jobs, and energy-friendly methods for the school district to cut expenses without diminishing student programs. They were also concerned about funding for libraries, and grant money that had been promised to them but seemed to be in jeopardy with the transition of new senatorial leadership.
They were especially interested to learn how Martins helped to revamp Mineola into a more viable community, when he served as its mayor. Philanthropist Amy Hagedorn described that transformation as “a phenomenal revitalization of Mineola.”
“You know best what you need in your community,” Martins said. “You don’t need Albany telling you.”
Martins, who had toured the peninsula before the meeting, told the audience that he would spend as much time as they needed to answer questions.
To Joe D'Alonzo of , who expressed concerned about the MTA payroll tax, Martins said he was “pushing for the repeal of the MTA payroll tax.” Tolls on the East River crossings, he added, could serve as a disincentive to drivers, perhaps enabling the MTA through increased ridership to compensate for a repeal.
To Nancy Curtin, Director of Port Washington Library, who asked about state cuts to library funding, he said, “Library funding will be restored. I can make that commitment to you.” He added, that during an economic downturn when people increasingly turn to libraries for resources “it’s unconscionable to short-change these institutions that are serving everybody.”
And to those wanting to revitalize Main Street, Martins suggested an overlay district, where village and town governments work together to reach a consensus and encourage appropriate investment in the community.
Martins also encouraged those organizations that had worried that their grants were in danger to contact him, and send along any supporting documentation so that he could assist.
He also spoke of helping to alleviate school districts from unfunded mandates, and to tap into solar energy so that districts and libraries could lower energy costs.
Martins concluded the meeting by saying his door was open, which was greeted by a round of applause, and the shout "Good Man."