Nominees set for new harbor management commission

Greenwich’s waterfront will be the main focus of the new commission. — Ken Borsuk photo

Greenwich’s waterfront will be the main focus of the new commission.
— Ken Borsuk photo

The long-awaited new harbor management commission has its first nominees after more than 20 applied for the chance to craft new policy for the town.

The new commission, which will be made up of seven regular members and two alternates, will be tasked with creating a harbor management plan for the town, a policy that residents have been demanding for years. It will also have jurisdiction “within and over all ‘navigable waters’ and inter-tidal areas below the mean high water line of the shoreline of Greenwich” and within the town’s territorial limits. Its initial membership has some high profile nominees, including a former state representative, a former selectman and a high-ranking officer in the Greenwich Police Department.

The nominees for the first makeup of the new commission are former state Rep. Lile Gibbons, Frank Mazza, who has served as a selectman and member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, Greenwich Police Department Lt. James Bonney, who is experienced in the department’s marine section, Stephen Kinner, Michael Van Oss, Bruce Angiolillo, and Peter Quigley. Bernard Armstrong and Gary Silberberg were nominated as alternates.

In making the nominations, the selectmen were quick to explain why they felt the candidates made for the best choices. Selectman Drew Marzullo praised Mr. Mazza’s “intimate knowledge of Greenwich’s waters” due to his time in town government and as a boater and member of the North Mianus Boat and Yacht Club. First Selectman Peter Tesei agreed, saying that Mr. Mazza’s “evenhanded temperament” and experience in government would be “invaluable” as the new commission took shape and began working on policy. Mr. Marzullo also nominated Ms. Gibbons for her work in town and state government, and Mr. Tesei called her a “tremendous asset” in dealing with waterfront issues.

“She’s going to be a resource for the commission with the state,” Mr. Tesei said. “She was there for 12 years. She knows the players.”

Selectman David Theis said Mr. Angiolillo, an attorney, was not a boater but provided a diverse point of view as a frequent user of Greenwich Point and also because his legal background would help in making sure that the harbor management plan being put forth worked within state statutes. Mr. Tesei said he believed that Mr. Angiolillo brought a “calming temperament and a strong sense of purpose for what the task ahead is” and that he had a “fresh perspective.”

A diverse point of view was also credited to Mr. Quigley, a former longtime member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) who has been a longtime advocate of better floodwater management work in town.

“Certainly Mr. Quigley is an articulate, passionate individual,” Mr. Tesei said. “If there is anyone who is going to represent a divergent point of view or focus more broadly than just boating on this commission, I believe Peter Quigley is that person. I’ve grown to respect his passion, even if I’ve not always been in agreement with him. In putting together this commission, we do great service to the community to make sure we have someone who can be a broader thinker and raise a perspective that is perhaps not represented by others.”

But arguments are not what the selectmen are looking for. Mr. Theis praised Mr. Kinner, a retired member of the Coast Guard and a teacher at Eastern Middle School, for his perspective and demeanor.

“One thing I would like this commission to have is a less adversarial approach,” Mr. Theis said, noting past dysfunction in previous harbor management boards and commissions.

That was a reason why Mr. Silberberg, a former chairman of the just-ended commission, faced some initial reluctance from Mr. Tesei when he was first nominated by Mr. Marzullo. However, all three men supported the unanimous nomination. Mr. Marzullo praised him as “extremely prepared and opinionated,” and Mr. Theis praised his passion and experience as well, adding that he hoped he would help it be “a much less adversarial commission than the last one.” Mr. Tesei said he had wanted to look at a whole new group on the commission instead of people who had been involved in the past, but praised his “thoughtful approach.”

The lone vote against a nominee came from Mr. Marzullo when Mr. Armstrong was nominated as an alternate. Mr. Marzullo stressed that this was not meant to be a reflection of Mr. Armstrong as an individual, but just his belief that there were more qualified applicants with maritime experience who were not getting onto the commission. Mr. Armstrong, a former executive for IBM and an active part of the town’s Shellfish Commission, did have Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis’ support.

“There’s eight or so people left, and my vote against Mr. Armstrong is in no way a reflection of whether he’ll be a contributing factor on the board,” Mr. Marzullo said. “I think at this point, given the makeup, we have people left with experience in maritime law and we could be better served by the background of other people.”

At a special meeting on Dec. 26, the Board of Selectmen nominated the seven members and two alternates, allowing their names to be sent to the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for a vote. The timing of the special meeting allows for these nominations to be considered in time for the RTM’s Jan. 21 meeting, but First Selectman Peter Tesei noted that there is time for flexibility because the new commission would not officially begin its work until April 1.

The nominees came about after 21 people applied initially to be considered, either directly to the selectmen or through the Selectmen’s Nominations Advisory Committee. Two of those 21 had to withdraw and one couldn’t be reached for interviews, but the 18 who did move forward sat down with all three selectmen individually last month before the nominations were made. The members of the board said they realized that the people who were not selected might be upset, but said there would naturally be turnover on the commission in future years, opening up spots.

“This was one of the bigger, more challenging tasks that we, I think, have embarked upon during our last four years of service,” Mr. Theis said. “There’s so many talented, generous people in Greenwich who are willing to give of their time and intellect. An attempt to be fair in every way is very difficult, but I think we did a good job in this case in getting to that point. I know there will be some disappointed people, but this is the way it has to be for now.”

The nominations were purposefully staggered, with Mr. Kinner, Mr. Mazza and Mr. Van Oss getting four-year terms, Mr. Angiolillo and Mr. Quigley getting three-year terms and Mr. Bonney and Ms. Gibbons getting two-year terms, so that not all the members would be coming up for renomination at the same time, a common practice on town boards and commissions. When asked how it was determined who would have the four-year terms and which nominees would get the shorter ones, the selectmen said it was done randomly.

 

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