Two seats are up for Village of Belle Terre trustee positions, where two incumbents and one newcomer are looking for residents’ votes come June 18.
Zaino, an incumbent and longtime Belle Terre resident, is looking for another two years on the board.
She is a 21-year resident of Belle Terre and said she became extremely active in village life after she retired in 2005.
Prior to being on the board, she was involved with the Belle Terre Community Association working alongside the village to augment various projects, including redoing the wall in front of the Belle Terre Community Center, parks projects, garden tours and other programs.
“In my own opinion, giving back to your community is a very noble thing to do,” she said.
After being asked to be trustee by the board, she said the village has been working on road and drainage repairs, erosion control on village property, maintenance of the community center and managing the beach, which is used by both Belle Terre and Port Jefferson villages.
In addition, she said the village is in the midst of upgrading the beach facilities with handicapped bathrooms and upgrades to the existing building, and she said she has worked, along with the rest of the board, in getting the cell tower in Belle Terre up and running.
“For the safety of the community, if you lived in one part of Port Jefferson and your teenager was somewhere else, you had communication with them because of the cell service,” Zaino said. “Prior to that it was really spotty.”
She said that she, and fellow incumbent Richard Musto, have been frontrunners on dealing with the deer and tick issue in the village.
Dr. Richard Musto
As a resident since 1984, Musto is looking to continue his efforts on the board for the third year and his second term.
Musto, who has held several leadership roles in urology in hospitals across Long Island and is now retired, said he got onto the board through a desire to know what was going on in his hometown. He was asked to fill in the term of one retired trustee and was elected in 2017 to the board.
“I went to meetings and started asking questions, so they asked if I would like to be on the deer committee,” he said. “I’ve always been on committees, so it was really kind of interesting and fun to do.”
After his work on the deer committee, he said the village has been looking for ways to decrease the tick population, and officials have been in contact with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He said he has also become involved in village security through its security cameras. He said the village is also looking at certain roads and looking to upgrade amenities at the village beach.
“I find it extremely interesting to find how a local government works,” he said. “I find it amazing for such a small village to see all the things that are involved and all the things you have to be aware of and know about.”
Dr. Caroline Engelhardt
Newcomer Engelhardt, a 23-year resident of the village, said she is running to try and put a little energy behind village policy. She said she is uncommon in Belle Terre, as other candidates have been appointed to the board after other trustees retire instead of being elected to the position.
“We have the same people running all the time — I’m actually running as a candidate,” she said. “I’m running because I want to see change in Belle Terre.”
Engelhardt said now that her youngest daughter is out of the house in college, she has time to work for her village. She is a practicing anesthesiologist with degrees from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, and said she is a community-minded person who works to make people feel better.
“I’ve been taking care of the community medically for 25 years,” she said. “I have a lot of energy. I can be seen walking through the village at 5 in the morning.”
She’s running on several points. One is to add more amenities to the beach, such as looking to bring in a food truck that could help feed people as they’re enjoying the sand and surf. She also said she would focus on getting roads repaired and working with the Long Island Power Authority to clear tree limbs hanging near power lines. In terms of erosion, she said she is wary of any sort of wall being built without careful consideration and was especially concerned that a wall would stop erosion in one location and create more erosion in another. She said she would like to see the village form a committee in order to deal with erosion on village property.
“We have to protect that property,” she said.
The vote will be held at the Belle Terre Community Center on 55 Cliff Road from 12 to 9 p.m. June 18.