Tags Posts tagged with "Dave Weber Jr."

Dave Weber Jr.

Seymour’s Boatyard owner, Dave Weber Jr. Photo by Sabrina Artusa

By Sabrina Artusa

The Village of Northport, known for its beautiful waterfront, thriving art sector and flourishing downtown, is widely appreciated by visitors and residents alike. Dave Weber Jr., a longtime resident, has consistently shown his love and appreciation for his community through fervent volunteerism, hands-on leadership and consideration for the overlooked.

Weber began his career in service as a junior firefighter in high school, following in his father’s footsteps, who was also a firefighter. After graduating from college and living briefly in Florida, Weber moved back to Northport, joined the fire department and took over Seymour’s Boatyard, which is listed in New York’s Historic Business Preservation Registry. Three years ago, he became a member of the village board of trustees.

One of Weber’s most consistent efforts has been fundraising for Paws of War, a nonprofit that trains shelter dogs as service dogs for veterans and first responders, like firefighters, who have physical or emotional traumas. This past summer, he raised over $15,000. The fundraiser was held alongside a free concert Weber organized in celebration of the Seymour’s Boatyard 100th anniversary.

He also raised money for the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association when the status of their paychecks was uncertain. With community support, he raised money for gift cards to give to the officers at a dinner held at the firehouse.

“Not much is said of the Coast Guard, but they are one of the branches of service that should be taken care of. They are putting their life out on the line out there for others so we as community members should be taking care of them also,” Weber said. 

Veterans affairs has been a significant concern of Weber’s. New York has the fifth largest veteran population at 790,000, according to the New York Health Foundation. Veteran suicide rates are significantly higher than the general population.

He got close to the Coast Guard community after organizing a CrossFit workout fundraiser for Nate Bruckenthal, a young Coast Guardsman who was killed in the Iraq War in 2004.

Weber also started Cow Harbor Warriors, along with several others. Under the Cow Harbor Warriors, Weber arranged for veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to visit Northport, where they enjoyed the water and attended a welcome dinner at the firehouse and a fundraising party. The goal was for the veterans, who came from across the tristate area, to feel appreciated.

Weber’s compassion is inexhaustible but is occasionally limited by external factors, such as participation, as was the case with the Cow Harbor Warriors, which, after several years of events, came to a halt.

“Everything revolves around volunteerism,” he said. “We come up with the ideas and put them to paper, but sometimes following through and executing is tough — it is definitely tough.” 

He continued, “We live in a picture-postcard community. It is a very giving community. All you have to do is look out the windows of my office to know that this is a very special place,” adding, “I feel lucky to be able to live here, and part of that is the ability to give back to the community.”

As Nicole Carey wrote in her nomination letter, “Often, if a person or an organization has an idea they want to bring forward, it is Dave they call.” She added, “He is the glue to all resources and often will help with the life of the project just because helping folks is second nature to him.”

For his continued dedication to his community, in both times of celebration and in times of need, Dave Weber is honored as a 2023 Person of the Year by TBR News Media.

Northport Village Hall. File photo

In the Village of Northport, residents will vote for a new mayor on Tuesday, March 15.

In addition to choosing between mayoral candidates Dave Weber Jr. and Donna Koch, voters will select three trustees, two for a four-year term and another for a two-year period. Mary Biunno is also running unopposed for village justice.

Weber and Koch recently answered questions via email about the mayoral race.

Donna Koch

Koch is no stranger to Village Hall. Until October of 2020, she worked as a full-time clerk until she had a parting of ways with the mayor, she said.

The candidate had been with Village Hall for more than 25 years. After starting her career as a crossing guard in the village in 1993, she spent a few years working part time in Village Hall and in 1998 became full-time deputy village clerk. In 2000, she took on the job of village clerk. After taking some time off, she realized she “missed Northport village government and started to attend village board meetings regularly.”

“With a different perspective, I could see what the residents saw,” she said. “A board whose sole purpose was to hurry through the meeting, with department heads having nothing to report, a treasurer who had nothing to report. And, with a total disrespect for the residents who do attend the meetings. It was then I knew I wanted to run for mayor and bring this village board back to a position of respect, transparency, with open, honest, informative meetings. This is an unprecedented time for the village. With four new spots up for election, experience will be key. I have that experience.”

She said taxes are a constant issue in
the village.

“We need to get our spending in check,” Koch said. “I will work with a board who takes a hard look at spending and finds ways to cut back. Do more with less. I will strive to achieve a zero tax increase.”

She also is concerned about keeping the “harbor clean, by mitigating stormwater runoff.”

She said the village needs “to dust off” several studies that were done “to see how we can implement them today.”

“I love the idea of rain gardens and more aesthetically pleasing remedies,” Koch said. “We as a board will look into every option that’s available.”

She said she would also aim to keep cannabis out of the village, control speeding on the roads, and put in new sidewalks, trees and curbs in the downtown area. She also has street congestion, parking and living in the post-COVID world on her mind.

Dave Weber Jr.

Dave Weber Jr.

Current trustee Weber said his experiences as a volunteer with the fire department and a downtown business owner, both for 26 years, have given him a unique perspective of the village regarding what it needs for long-term growth and sustainability.

“Joining the board of trustees in 2020, I have given our residents that voice that has been missing over the past administrations,” he said.

Among his accomplishments while trustee, he listed, “Transparency, calling out and getting professional guidance and new eyes into our finances when wrongdoing was discovered; fiscal responsibility, building relationships with federal and state as well as local elected officials to obtain grant monies to improve recreational facilities for our youth; environmental initiatives, continuing stormwater mitigation along Main Street with state funding for continued improvement of our water quality; aquaculture programs to clean and strengthen the condition of our harbor for future generations.”

Weber said the village’s lingering issues would be compounded by new hurdles as it transitions into a post-pandemic era. He listed commerce and stormwater mitigation as priorities once the new board takes office. He also said that building relationships between public/private partnerships and community organizations, in turn, can create a stronger village.

Weber said one example of partnerships has been how as trustee he has already built a relationship with the local community organization Not in Our Town and the Town of Huntington Anti Bias Task Force to address hate and antisemitism after incidents in the village.

He also said he would work to connect local businesses with the community and has a plan for stormwater mitigation.

“Building relationships with business owners and bridging residents and customers to those businesses to help fill storefronts and keep our downtown thriving is an initiative that I have already begun and will continue to do,” he said. “Stormwater mitigation or the ‘flooding on Main Street’ has and probably will always be an issue due to our Main Street being in a valley. Using federal money for dry wells and filtration as well as installing rain gardens along these key areas will help to alleviate the increase of nitrogen in our harbor. Partnering with key environmental organizations within the village to educate and get our community involved in this extremely important issue is currently happening, and will continue
if elected.”

Two-year trustee

Meghan Dolan Saporita

Meghan Dolan Saporita

Trustee candidate Meghan Dolan Saporita, a litigator in both the public and private sectors, said in an email that running for village trustee wasn’t something she ever thought she would do. Throughout her career, she has been a trial attorney and an assistant district attorney for Nassau County. She is the mother of school-aged children and is a current member of the Ocean Avenue PTA and a youth soccer coach in the village. Dolan Saporita is also one of the co-founders of Not In Our Town Northport which works with the community, school administration and police department to stand up against hate and bigotry. NIOT also heads up donation drives for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as well as school supplies.

My decision to enter the race was really organic, growing out of my work the past few years in this village, the relationships I have formed here, and the real opportunity for new and needed leadership in this particular election,” Dolan said. “In attending and speaking at the village meetings, it became clear to me that new voices — voices of women, parents and young people — are essential to continuing to make Northport Village the best it can be. I decided to enter the race because I am dedicated to Northport and because I am qualified, experienced, and professional, all qualities that Northport Village deserves in its leaders.

Dolan said she feels the biggest problem facing Northport Village is environmental.

“We have suffered from flooding in the downtown, which produces significant pollutants which then run into our Harbor,” she said. “We need to make tackling these environmental concerns a priority: addressing the infrastructure (with Federal money) to prevent flooding every time it rains, by committing to native plantings, by following through on commitments to a native tree planting program, in partnership with our incredible local nonprofit Northport Native Garden Initiative, by continuing work on our aquaculture programs, and by starting new initiatives in the village geared towards sustainability.”

Jim Izzo

James Izzo

James Izzo, who owns Cow Harbor Realty, said this is the first time he is running for village trustee. He said when he was president of the Northport Chamber of Commerce, he was slightly frustrated with what he felt was a lack of response from the village during the COVID-19 response by the existing administration.

“We just got to a point where our members needed a lifeline,” he said. “The village did not respond, and as the chamber, we offered multiple things that were safe in nature that could have easily been done and benefited our members and our small businesses. Initially they said, “no,” and then after a while, they just stopped responding completely. So, that level of frustration was my initial looking at what’s wrong and then evolved.”

He said when he moved from Asharoken to the village a year and a half ago, he started “seeing shortcomings that went well beyond how they treated the chamber and its members, but how they treated the residents. So, it really evolved from a level of frustration to a level of, “Oh my goodness, I have to do something.”

Izzo said there may be a myriad of issues in the village but have been identified and are easy to resolve. He said he feels the residents should be more involved in decision-making too, and he doesn’t feel there needs to be so many meetings behind closed doors. He said the village needs accessibility, caring and transparency.

“I’ve been self-employed all my life; and I’ve run my own companies; and I’ve been involved with business improvement districts; I’ve been on a number of boards, where you have a mission statement,” he said. “It seems to me, although in an elected capacity, [village] boards don’t have a mission statement per se, but they still have a mission.”

He added, “a good manager doesn’t solve the problems, a good manager anticipates future problems.”

“It’s more like you anticipate what could come up and you try to anticipate it and resolving before it escalates. So, I think now, what we’re seeing is maybe the tip of the iceberg, and maybe there’s other underlying problems that haven’t surfaced yet, and that’s my real concern.”

Joseph Sabia

Joseph Sabia

Joseph Sabia, the owner of Sabia Car Care, has unsuccessfully run for trustee three times and mayor once in the past.

He said as not only is he a business owner, but as someone who has been a member of the Northport Police Department and on the Northport-East Northport school board from 2011 to 2014, he has seen a lot in the village. He also has been attending the village board meetings for 10 years.

“I’ve been living in the village of over 45 years,” he said. “I have a business here, and I live here, and I raised my family here, and after going to meetings, I realized how this place is run,” he said. “It’s very poor.”

Sabia said as someone who is financially conservative, he feels the village having a more than $8 million fund balance while having a nearly $17 million budget is “ridiculous.”

“Our village, they over budget, underspend and they bank a lot of money,” he said.

He said a $4 million reserve would be enough for a village the size of Northport, and he also feels that the village needs to stop raising taxes needlessly, especially with rising inflation.

“You look at every and each individual department, you see how much money has been spent the year before. The real numbers. And that’s when you go back to which is called the zero-based budget. So, if they spent 4 million less you go back to the 4 million less and then raised taxes on the 4 million less than what Curtis’s and if you have the reserve that you have, which is eight and a half million, you don’t raise taxes at all.”

Sabia said he would do his best not to raise taxes, but he understands there are situations where it may be necessary.

He said other issues on his mind are the deteriorating conditions of roads, sidewalks and curbs in the village. Sabia added he has seen overgrown trees where the roots are breaking up the sidewalks. He also said the village has to look at the stormwater runoff issue on Main Street, and he believes rain gardens and catch basins can help.

One-year trustee

Michael Bento

Michael Bento

A financial professional and as someone just starting a family, Michael Bento said he can bring a unique perspective to the village board.

He said one of the key issues is the fiscal challenges that will be brought on by the school tax hike due to the LIPA settlement, and he plans to keep village taxes low to offset the effects. He said his goal is to fight for federal infrastructure funds that New York State will allocate and search for intergovernmental grants.

“To me the biggest problem facing our village is the impact of the LIPA settlement,” he said. “The school tax hike after the glidepath has been exhausted will make Northport unaffordable for many families if we are not agile and proactive with offsetting the pain on other tax lines, such as village taxes or instance,” he said. “I am looking to leverage my experience as a financial professional to find as many offsets as I can to help keep village taxes low without sacrificing the quality of our services.”

Bento also listed other issues in the village such as repairing roads, sidewalks and storm drains. The flooding on Main Street is also on his mind.

“The health of the harbor is also of great concern,” he said. “Infrastructure grants would also go a long way toward mitigating runoff, but also partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and non-profits dealing with marine and environmental issues are also essential to keeping our waters clean for the next generation.”

While Bento has been a full-time resident since he his wife, Victoria, settled in the village in 2017, he said he would visit his grandparents in the summer when they had a house in Northport.

“We chose Northport because drawing from my own childhood experiences we could not envision raising our future kids anywhere else,” he said.

Ernest Pucillo is also running for trustee but could not be reached.

March 15

Residents will be able to vote for the Village of Northport mayor and trustees on March 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Northport Village Hall, 224 Main St.