Despite the rainy day, local business owners and entrepreneurs in Clarkstown came out to the Clarkstown Business Roundtable. It was hosted by Shibu Abraham—who is running for Clarkstown Town Council—and Ralph Sabatini—who is running for Clarkstown Supervisor.
"I think it was a really great opportunity for people to come out and speak to potential leaders," said Participant Patty Ciardullo.
The candidates came out to hear from and learn about issues and concerns local businesses have and there were guest speakers present to discuss money-saving strategies and business exit planning.
"Overall, it's a good stepping stone. Even if they (the candidates) are not elected, they say they're able to present these issues to the board," said Peter Kral, designer and project manager of Royal Kitchen & Home Improvements in New City. "There's too much waste going on and they need to look at overall solutions with schools, government (and all other institutions)."
Anthony Mele, president of AMI Global Security LLC, was the moderator for the event. He said that he came up with the roundtable idea and that he has done this several times in other parts of the country.
"The idea is to ask businesses for their input on issues of town planning," he said.
One of the major concerns was the main street construction in New City and its disruption to local businesses.
"Businesses were not consulted before streets were torn up, on how it would impact their businesses," said Mele. "What about the local guy. Everyone here said that they were losing business and losing money. Before government does anything, the first rule is 'do no harm.'"
One local businessman said that the dollar amount going into the Main Street construction does not balance with its value afterwards given the amount of lost business suffered by local Main Street stores.
"They did have input (from local businesses), but the input was ignored. I don't think putting all that money into the facade will improve our business or pedestrian traffic that much," said Frank Grandel, a self-employed local businessman. "They needed to address the condition it (the New City downtown area) was in, but cadillac sidewalks were not used (or needed) in other (Clarkstown) towns."
As for Nanuet, Sabatini said it needed a lot of help.
"Nanuet is a tragedy," he said. "We need to promote business growth and Nanuet needs intense focus."
Problems that the candidates identified for local businesses included
- Traffic and Construction
- Code enforcement
Mitchell Brill of Altium Wealth, discussed business exit strategy and planning, and David Trokel and Nic Cultrara from LDI Color Toolbox talked about money-saving strategies, which business owners can implement.
The question was proposed: "How can local Government make Clarkstown more business friendly?"
The roundtable answers were: Help you keep more of your money, help your business grow and help you hire one more employee. As for the candidates, this was one of many meet and greets they have planned leading up to elections.
"We need to cut salaries, cut town cars and look into the special bargaining unit," said Sabatini. "Everytime we find waste, we're going to cut it and return it to the taxpayers."
"We need to cut waste, pool spending and have term limits for everyone," said Abraham. "Clarkstown is over-taxed and over-regulated. The current town board, they know what's going on but they just don't care."
Abraham added that he plans to take a salary cut as a councilman.
"We only work two days a month but make $40,000 or more a year. Also, the town council members can make more if they're on a committee," he said.