On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Mark Sauvigne commuted to his job as a bond trader at Nomura Securities, next door to the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
“I witnessed [the attack] firsthand,” he said. “After having experienced the horrific tragedy, I wanted to make a difference in the Manhasset community,” he said.
He decided to run for commissioner of the Manhasset Park District in December 2001. Sauvigne, now a five-term incumbent, is running unopposed for re-election on Dec. 13. He is also a commissioner of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water and Fire District.
“Although we have accomplished much over the years, there is still much to do,” said Sauvigne, who retired last year after 31 years as a bond trader. The commissioner position is part-time and pays $100 for each day worked, he said.
The Manhasset Park District is responsible for running the area’s eight parking lots as well as maintaining passive parks like Patriots Park and the World War II memorial on Plandome Road, he said.
Among his accomplishments on the Manhasset Park District commission, Sauvigne cited the parking rate, which has remained at $3 per day during his 15 years as a commissioner. He also noted tax rates, which have increased just 2 percent over the past six years and decreased for two of those years.
“We have accomplished this by thinking of ways to increase revenue,” he said.
One way has been the institution of a $5 daily parking fee for nonresidents at the district’s main parking lot, near the Long Island Rail Road station. The fee is to be raised to $10 per day in early 2017, Sauvigne said.
“Considering the benefit of taking the train from Manhasset and that this is the only nearby train lot where you can park overnight, I still think this is a very reasonable price,” he said. The commission expects to net $150,000 in annual revenue from these fees, he said.
He said parking on Plandome Road, however, has proven a more challenging issue for the commission.
“If you have ever tried to get a parking spot on Plandome Road in the afternoon, you know it is next to impossible,” he said.
“Also there are many commercial lots throughout the town, some legal and some illegal, which charge up to $300.”
He said the commission “needs to crack down on the illegal lots.”
As for efforts to expand the availability of legal parking on Plandome Road, he said the commission has “a proposal on the table with the Town of North Hempstead to do some curb cuts in the Mary Jane Davies lot that would allow us to create another 16 parking spots.”
“The parking situation will not be solved until everyone gets on board,” he added. “In the meantime we will continue to do whatever we can.”
Another issue facing the Manhasset Park District in the near term will be the expiration of a Long Island Rail Road lease for a portion of the main parking lot near the Manhasset station, which has 162 parking spaces, Sauvigne said.
“Previously we had three 20-year leases for $1 a year,” he said. “Obviously that deal will not continue.”
“We are working diligently with our local officials and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to come to an agreement that is mutually agreeable to all. We fully understand how important this lot is to our residents and the negative ramifications if this lot was run and opened up to residents outside Manhasset,” he added.
The district takes in Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome Manor, Plandome Heights, Strathmore and parts of Flower Hill, but it excludes the village of Plandome. The other two commissioners are Kenneth Weigand and David Paterson. Each commissioner serves a three-year term staggered in such a way that one commissioner comes up for re-election every year.
Voting will take place on Dec. 13 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department Company No. 1 firehouse at 35 Bayview Ave.
“I believe the Manhasset Park District is on the right path,” Sauvigne said.
“The pace of progress can be agonizingly slow when it comes to government but I will not give up until the job is finished. Together, we can and will make a difference.”