New trustees sworn in alongside new mayor
The Garden City Board of Trustees underwent a change in the form of newly-elected Mayor John Watras and trustees Robert Bolebruch and Richard Silver, who were all sworn in on Monday April 1 by acting justice Merril Biscone. With Mayor Don Brudie and Trustee Laurence Quinn departing, Bolebruch and Silver, (from the West and Central respectively), were elected to fill those slots.
Watras, unanimously nominated by the Western Property Owners Association (WPOA), becomes the 45th Garden City mayor. But the path to becoming village head included the former deputy mayor/police and fire commissioner having to defeat fellow trustee Quinn in a February run-off election. And while the past year included occasional dust-ups on the board, particularly in regards to the fate of St. Paul’s, Watras’s message on this particular evening focused on solving problems and having residents donate time and pull together for the common good of the village.
“Volunteerism is something you’ll here constantly from me,” he said. “I really believe in it.”
Given the financial woes faced by Garden City, particularly in light of recent natural disasters and an anemic economy struggling to recover, Watras pointed out the need to approach running the village like a corporation.
“We’re running a business here. It’s almost a $54 million business. We have a lot of responsibility,” he said.
Balanced budgets, an open dialogue with the community and the maximized marketing of village facilities like St. Paul’s fields, the pool and senior center are ways Watras said the village’s financial integrity could be strengthened in the next two years.
Other topics the new mayor touched on were the continued and increased support of local merchants “I want to help [our local businesses] as much as we possibly can. Working with the Chamber of Commerce will be imperative. I want to get money into the village in any way, shape or form.” He said of St. Paul’s, “I know it’s been a dividing topic and like all of us on the board we’d all like to see some closure to this dangling participle and move on.”
The awarding of board assignments, which caused quite a bit of turmoil amongst the trustees last year, was a far more benign process under Watras. Among the notable appointments were: deputy mayor Trustee Nicholas P. Episcopia, police commissioner Trustee Andrew J. Cavanaugh, fire commissioner Trustee Dennis C. Donnelly, building and planning commissioner Trustee Brian C. Daughney, public works commissioner Trustee John A. DeMaro, traffic commission Trustee Robert A. Bolebruch and commissioner of finance Trustee Richard V. Silver.