Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking Great ‘Panes’ to Attract Patrons

Rose & Eye windows spruce up West End

By Joseph Kellard

Michael Muratore and Stefano Malluzzo have brought a bit of Fifth Avenue to the West End. Each month, the owners of Rose & Eye, a women’s boutique on the corner of West Beech Street and Wyoming Avenue, dress up large display windows with a fresh theme according to season, anniversaries and the hottest fashions.

In July, their summer-clad mannequins stood with surfboards, a theme they based on “Beach Party,” an early 1960s Annette Funicello movie. They rang in 2008 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the peace sign, with T-shirts emblazoned with the symbol popularized by hippies. This summer they displayed maxi dresses and jumpsuits, two of the season’s biggest trends, and used poster-sized photos of colorful hot-air balloons as background art.

Muratore and Malluzzo have noticed that their windows sometimes stop traffic, as curious drivers gaze in from their cars on West Beech, and during the holidays children who get off school buses at a nearby stop run up to get a better look at their festive displays.

“One of the ways we attract our customers is through the windows,” Muratore said about his moderately priced store, which offers everything from jeans to wrap sweaters to party dresses. “It causes them to want to stop and look in. They may get the impression that we’re real expensive, but really we’re not.”

This month, Rose & Eye’s windows are split between Christmas and New Year’s Eve themes, with hand-made snow girls, a takeoff on Frosty the Snowman, sporting a variety of Long Beach sweatshirts with starfish images. Their carrot-nosed faces were sculpted in a storage room where the owners prepare the window displays, mounting and dressing the mannequins, painting the backgrounds and printing the eye-catching art and photos that they order.

It took Muratore and Malluzzo almost two weeks to complete all the prep work for this month’s windows, and another two days to put everything on display.

In October 2008, the shop displayed the artwork of West School students to complement Halloween-themed windows. Denise Collins, the art teacher at the neighborhood school, was shopping at the boutique one day when Muratore, whose two sons are students there, approached her with an idea.

“He asked if we could get the kids to create some artwork to feature it in the windows,” Collins recalled. “The kids loved the idea. It’s nice for them to see their work on display.”

Her second- to fifth-graders supplied some 40 pieces of artwork, including skeletons, collage masks and pumpkins with paints and pencils. Now Collins’s students are working on a Valentine’s Day theme for the windows, recreating the 1973 “LOVE” stamp by Robert Indiana and creating “fabulous fictional couples,” from Popeye and Olive Oyl to Homer and Marge Simpson.

“Pretty much they’re doing the artwork, and will build elements around the art,” said Muratore, who worked in department stores for 20 years but never dressed windows.

Soon after he and Malluzzo bought their original, empty West End store in March 2007, they installed the display windows. They put in even larger windows when they expanded twice, to spaces previously occupied by a scooter shop and a law office.

“Basically the two of us, who had worked at other stores, we dreamed that one day we’d have our own store and have these great windows,” Muratore said. “We stepped forth and did it and it worked.”

Photos by Christina Daly and Courtesy Rose & Eye

‘He Never Stopped Trying to Help The Vets’

William Green, VFW commander, dies at 66

By Joseph Kellard

It was a minor change among the many William Green brought to the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Long Beach. As its commander from 2000 to 2004, Green began displaying on the walls two framed photo collages of members during their youthful days in combat zones, from Europe to Afghanistan, that became conversation pieces at parties and allowed the vets to brag.

During his term, Green also increased the post’s membership by about 50 percent, and the number of active members more than doubled thanks to his efforts, according to long-time member Ed Grant, who served in the Army in Vietnam and was deployed to the demilitarized zone in Korea in the late 1960s. “Billy reached out to everybody by not trying to make it a private club,” Grant said of Green’s recruiting philosophy.

Joseph Clarino is a Vietnam veteran who was among Green’s recruits. “He was relentless on me to join the VFW,” Clarino recalled. “It took him quite a while but he got me. He convinced me that we could do more things together and get involved in the community.”

Clarino read a eulogy at Green’s funeral at Christopher Jordan’s Funeral Home in Island Park on Monday. Green died last Saturday at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. He was 66.

Alice Green, his wife of 36 years, said he held strong to his commitment to never turn away a veteran who wanted to join the VFW, and he always stood up for them. “Even before he became commander, he always tried to find out what veterans were and weren’t getting from the Veterans Affairs,” Alice said.

Her husband believed he was right in everything he did, she said, and Grant characterized him as a man who was persistent and insistent in his convictions. “With Billy it was often the my-way-or-the-highway attitude,” Grant said, “and that could create some divisiveness, but he had the strength to keep pushing for things that he wanted.”

One of the most important things Green wanted — and got — was tighter relationships among his members. He brought together members from different age groups and combat theaters, taking them on bus trips to West Point for football games and lunches at German and Italian restaurants from Manhattan to Suffolk County, Grant said.

“Very often there was a dichotomy between the Vietnam vets and World War II vets,” he explained, “and Billy was instrumental in getting everybody together to share the experiences we had.”

The camaraderie regularly inspired a group of 25 or more members to trek to the V.A. Medical Center in Northport to run an annual July barbecue and a Christmas party for disabled veterans, and members attend a half-dozen other functions throughout the year, all of which Green started.

“Billy was a very good and active commander,” said current VFW Commander John Zimmerman. “He was very passionate about being the commander. He just wanted to do a lot for veterans.”

Born on Flag Day, June 14, 1943, Green grew up in Manhattan, where he met Alice. He was drafted in 1963, became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. He jumped into the Dominican Republic on a mission to avert a communist takeover there in 1965.

Before the unit returned to Vietnam, Green was discharged, and he joined the reserves, in which he was active until the mid-1980s. He rose to the rank of sergeant and joined the Green Berets.

After he and Alice married in 1973, they had two children, Michael and Jennifer, and moved to Long Beach in 1984. Among Green’s hobbies was skydiving, until an accident sidelined him.

“He was a very giving person,” Alice said. “He loved his family and loved life — definitely. And he never stopped trying to help the veterans until he couldn’t do it anymore. They were his mission in life once he got started on it.”

Green is survived by his wife and children as well as three grandchildren, Michael, Sean and Joseph. He was buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.

Photo Courtesy Green Family

Yes, But Would They Still Jog in Siberia?

Long Beach runners don’t let cold weather stop them

By Joseph Kellard

One day when Larry Moriarty took his routine run along the length of the boardwalk, he crossed paths with just five people — which including motorists on Broadway and a maintenance man picking up garbage. Moriarty recalled that the temperature that day was 8 degrees.

Moriarty is among the Long Beach residents who exercise on the boardwalk all year, undeterred by frigid temperatures and the Atlantic’s piercing winds. What’s more, he is among a handful of runners who hit the wooden slats as early as 5 a.m., from three to six days a week, usually totaling five miles each outing.

“You get warmed up fairly quickly and it really is quite a nice experience because it’s so quiet,” said Moriarty, 40, who dresses in layers, including a balaclava covering his head and face.

A forensic accountant who often travels for his job, Moriarty first laced up running shoes about three years ago to burn some calories and maintain his health. When asked why frigid weather fails to deter him, he matter-of-factly replied, “Why would it?”

Then there are Long Beachers like Nancy Koff. She has run all year long, on and off, since she moved to Long Beach in 1985, and there was a time when she didn’t blink when the cold and snow arrived. But now, at 55, she takes a different approach.

In the summer, Koff and her iPod reach the boardwalk around 8 a.m., and in the winter she has the luxury of starting even later, since she is a family therapist and doesn’t open her Bellmore office until 1 p.m.

“I’m older now and it’s just kind of disgusting and miserable running in the snow and rain,” Koff said. “Even if it’s just a very strong wind I might not go. It just gets a little bit harder to deal with the elements as you get older.”

Depending on how she’s feeling, she generally tries to get in four runs a week, starting at Neptune Boulevard, on the east end of the boardwalk, and running to the west end, at New York Avenue, and back, 4.4 miles in all. When the weather is particularly nasty, Koff will run just half the distance, to around Magnolia Boulevard.

And on the worst days she heads to New York Sports Club on East Park Avenue or Pure Fitness in Island Park, where she works with a personal trainer. But compared with the boardwalk, the gym treadmills are drudgery. “I hate it,” she said. “I’m counting every minute that goes by and the calories I’ve burned. The time really flies when you’re outside, especially on the boardwalk because the scene is so beautiful.”

Part of what pushes Koff to run in the cold is a philosophy, one she imparts to her clients in therapy, that says to get up and move move every day, whether to run, skip rope or just walk.

Having the right gear, especially the right hat and gloves, she said, is key to exercising outside when the mercury heads south.

Katie Sell, an exercise physiologist at Hofstra University and a Long Beach resident, concurs. In cold weather the body directs blood and heat to vital organs such as the brain, heart and liver, Sell explained, so wearing the proper hat, gloves and even socks becomes especially important. Dressing warmly protects runners not only from frostbite, but also from decreased sensory ability, she said.

Sell suggested that cold-weather exercisers like Moriarty and Koff wear materials that “wick” sweat away from the skin, which is especially important in the cold, and that they dress in layers.

“Advanced runners know to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a T-shirt, and then another long-sleeved shirt, while a new runner will put on a T-shirt and a big heavy fleece,” she said. “But you can shed the layers as your body temperature goes up, and also they don’t get damp from sweat so you can put them on afterwards.”

Sell, a native of England, is used to exercising in cold weather, though a bum knee has sidelined her running routine, so she plays tennis in the winter.

She makes sure that she always has water, even in sub-freezing weather, to stay hydrated. “You should bring a bottle of water with you, but not ice-cold water,” Sell said. “You have very delicate tissue in the back of your throat, and in the cold air it needs to be warmed a whole bunch more. Tap water is good.”

While Nat Cooper rides his bike each spring and summer day with his 4-year-old son, he runs on the boardwalk only when it snows. A former amateur bodybuilder on whose knees heavy lifting has taken a toll, Cooper finds that the snow cushions his knees as he runs just a few blocks — usually from Neptune to Monroe Boulevard — and he also
enjoys the scenery.

“There’s something about being out in the crispness and the coldness that I look forward to,” he said. “In the wintertime there’s just something so beautiful about it when there’s that little bit of snow.”

Photo by Arthur Findlay

Lido Beach Real Estate Holds Its Own

Dune-front home sells for $3.3 million

By Joseph Kellard

Home sales in Lido Beach are up and inventory is down since the housing market crashed last year. Early last December there were 37 listings in Lido Beach, and as of last week there were 18, according to real estate agents who sell in the area.

Broker Thomas Tripodi said that his group of agents at Prudential Douglas Elliman, on West Park Avenue in Long Beach, closed 10 of the 20 homes sold in the past year, which ranged in price from $419,000 to $3.3 million. The biggest sale was a house on the dunes at Prescott Street, which sold for $300,000 less nearly three years ago, during a sellers’ market.

“The owner sold it for 10 percent more at the bottom of the market,” Tripodi said. “It wasn’t upgraded [with renovations] at all. It’s about location. There are only 12 houses directly on the ocean in Lido.”

Pat McDonnell, owner of Lido Beach Realty on Lido Boulevard, said that the homes for sale now range from $519,000 for a home on Lido Boulevard to $3.2 million for a house on Blackheath Road on Reynolds Channel.

Tripodi and McDonnell agreed that while the weak economy has hurt the local market, Lido Beach has not been hit as hard as other Long Island communities, which have seen many more foreclosures. They point to Lido’s well-maintained beaches, golf course, tennis courts and luxury condos, the Lido Towers, all of which help keep prices stable, giving brokers the luxury of being able to wait for buyers.

“I think, reflective of the economy, the market has been a little down, but I don’t think we will ever, ever be as affected as other areas are,” said McDonnell, who has worked in Lido Beach for 30 years.

The hamlet has about 860 homes and nearly 3,000 residents, and owners tend to be doctors, lawyers and financiers with similar incomes. Many of the people who have moved there in recent years have come from Manhattan, the North Shore and Garden City, but particularly from Atlantic Beach and the Hamptons.

Tripodi said that most buyers are people who otherwise would have bought homes in the Hamptons — including the buyer of the oceanfront home on Prescott — because they find the beaches comparable and like the fact that they are just 28 miles from Manhattan. And homes in the distant Hamptons or Montauk can cost many millions more.

McDonnell has seen the same trend. “Believe it or not, there are still people who say, ‘How did we not know Lido Beach was here?’” she said. “We’re getting people coming in from the East End who don’t want the commute [or are] deciding to give up the second home and make a permanent home here, where they can commute easily to Manhattan.”

Due to the interest in the dunes area, where there are 283 homes, Tripodi said, prices have seen the smallest declines there in the market downturn. Before last fall, sale prices were all $1 million and above, whereas now some are as low as $800,000. “Because it’s a special area and it has location, a lot of people buy it as a second home,” Tripodi said. “There weren’t a lot of desperation homes.”

McDonnell pointed out, however, that for the first time in years, there is a foreclosure in Lido Beach, on Luchon Street in the dunes, a house that she said is selling for $1.2 million.

In the neighborhoods north of Lido Boulevard, in between Lido Beach and Long Beach on the channel, colonials and split-levels are going for $650,000 to $1.2 million. Tripodi said that he recently sold one house on the bay for almost $2 million.

Miriam Gold, of Paul Gold Real Estate on West Beech Street in Long Beach, who has sold homes throughout the barrier island for 46 years, said that in a decades-long trend, residents have migrated from west to east — from the West End to Westholme, a neighborhood east of New York Avenue, and from the East End, east of Long Beach Boulevard, to Lido Beach.

“They’re still selling in the Canals neighborhood to move into Lido because that’s the next jump for a bigger home,” Gold said. “So there’s that bit of migration that has helped some business. But the prices aren’t as strong as they used to be. But any place that is in great condition and is in a spectacular location like Lido, it sells.”

Gold said that most sales on the barrier island this year have been in the lower price ranges, and she expects that some sellers will look for more expensive homes as in Lido, particularly now that the $8,000 Federal Housing Authority tax credit that once applied only to first-time home buyers has been extended. The extension not only increases the credit’s availability to single purchasers with a maximum income of $125,000, but it now also applies to people who have owned a home for at least five years and provides a $6,500 credit for a new home.

“The million-dollar price range, I feel, is going to open up in the coming year,” Gold said. Tripodi said he believes it is impossible for buyers not to find a good deal in the Lido market right now. But he tempers this confidence when he considers the future. “I think we’ve pretty much hit the bottom,” he said, “but I don’t know if it’s going to turn back right away.”

Tripodi believes the forecasters who say interest rates will have to climb back to 8 percent. “So if you take out a $1million mortgage,” he said, “it will be $30,000 extra for the same exact house.”

Photo by Arthur Findlay