FRNCA’s new prez hails from Riverhead; but that’s OK

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Community Association's outgoing president, Brad Bender, welcomes newly elected president Vince Taldone at Monday night's meeting in Flanders.

The new president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association doesn’t live in any of those three Southampton hamlets, and the group had to change it’s bylaws Monday so he could become president.

No one else wanted the job.

The group also heard Monday that the newly formed Riverside Revitalization Community Corporation is withdrawing its membership from FRNCA, instead opting to function separately. The two groups disagreed recently on the issue of affordable housing in Riverside.

Vince Taldone, who lives in Riverhead Town but owns property in Flanders, was elected to succeed Brad Bender as FRNCA president Monday night because Mr. Bender, of Northampton, is planning to run for a Southampton Town Board seat in the fall.

Two months ago, FRNCA members Richard Naso and Chris Sheldon complained publicly that Mr. Bender was jeopardizing the group’s nonprofit status by running for public office while serving at FRNCA president.

But on Monday, FRNCA members practically had to beg people to replace Mr. Bender as president after he heeded their wishes.

Mr. Taldone said he was take the position if the group’s bylaws allowed people who own property within Flanders, Riverside or Northampton, but don’t live there, to be on the board. So after much debate, the FRNCA board researched what steps needed to be taken to change their bylaws, and held a vote to see if they wanted to change the requirement for board members from having to be “permanent residents” of one of the three hamlets, to being residents or property owners.

The measure passed, and Mr. Taldone was then elected president, although the vice presidency remains vacant. No one wanted that position either.

At one point, when told that Mr. Sheldon couldn’t be vice president because he hadn’t paid his dues, Mr. Naso, got up and paid Mr. Sheldon’s dues for him, but Mr. Sheldon said he still wasn’t interested in being vice president.

Mr. Bender had nominated Mr. Naso for president, but Mr. Naso declined.

It was Mr. Naso who suggested that the group broaden its bylaws.

“And these people criticized me for being president,” Mr. Bender said.

“Our volunteer pool, through the development of numerous associations, groups and nonprofits, is being diluted,” he added.

In addition to FRNCA, the area is now also represented by the Riverside Revitalization Community Corporation, Flanders Village Historical Society, the Friends of the Big Duck, the Bay View Pines Civic Association and the Waters Edge Civic Association.

Mr. Bender in the past has said there is now a shortage of people to help volunteer on beautification projects in the three hamlets.

Meanwhile, John Parker, the organizer of the revitalization group, said they are withdrawing their membership in FRNCA.

“We don’t need impediments or hindrances in our affairs,” Mr. Parker said, adding that the members only want to deal with issues specific to Riverside anyway.

But he said members would work together with FRNCA and that they appreciate the help they’ve gotten in the past from FRNCA.

Recently, the two groups took opposing sides on a proposal to locate affordable rentals in Riverside, as the Riverside committee has stated that  adding affordable housing is one of their goals, while FRNCA has opposed affordable rental housing, and some of its members have in the past said the area doesn’t need any more affordable housing.

Mr. Taldone, meanwhile, brings a lengthy resume to his new position.

He is a retired New York City planner who has served on the Suffolk County Planning Commission, Riverhead Town’s Handicapped Advisory Committee, the Suffolk County Legislature’s Transportation Advisory Board, of which he was chairman,  Riverhead Townscape, Five Town Rural Transit, the East End Transportation Council’s advisory group and Riverhead Town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

He also recently has worked with the Southampton Housing Authority on the development of several scattered site affordable homes in the Flanders area.

Because he has impaired vision and cannot drive, Mr. Taldone has been an advocate for improving public transportation on the East End.

He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University.

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