Former Sheepshead Bay District Leader Michael Geller and the new commanding officer of the 61st Precinct want to mediate the ongoing Hatfield and McCoys-type rivalry between feuding Manhattan Beach civic groups, but the leaders of the two camps won’t budge as they sing the same tune — it’s not us, it’s them.
Geller — who lost to Ari Kagan at last week’s democratic primary — said that the rivalry between the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association and the 70-year-old Manhattan Beach Community Group must stop because it has hurt the sea-side community.
“It lowers our accessibility to elected officials,” said Geller, a Manhattan Beach resident. “If you were running for office, and you knew there were 600–700 voters in a community, you would only have to go to one group,” said Geller. “But with two groups they say to heck with it. They don’t want to make one group upset because they visited with the other, so they’re not even going to come to Manhattan Beach.”
Captain John Chell of the 61st Precinct also said that he would like to see the two groups reunite, if only to help him do his job.
“It would be my goal to get [the civic associations] out of that mentality,” the captain told members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association recently. “I may work here, but you live here.”
Yet no one seems to be willing to accept these olive branches.
Manhattan Beach Community Group president Ira Zalcman said he’d be willing to discuss a truce, but claimed that the younger Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association is unwilling to compromise.
“I’ve been open to it for five years, they’re the ones that don’t want to come down,” said Zalcman. “I’ve been saying it for five years, but they’re not even interested in giving terms.”
Not surprisingly, Alan Ditchek, president of the younger Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, said the exact opposite: when elected officials have tried to get the groups to work together in the past, it was the older community group that declined to join.
“These matters have been brought up before,” Ditchek said. “Assemblyman Cymbrowitz tried to get both groups together to work on mutual projects and the other group did not want to participate. We attended three meetings with him and Geller, and the other group refused to participate on even these small matters.”
Geller says that intractable statements like these is what’s keeping the two groups apart — a line in the sand until either Zalcman or Ditchek step down from office.
“The wounds are too deep,” Geller said.
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.