Vince Taldone, after being presented with his 'honorary member' plaque at the May 10 FRNCA meeting at the Crohan Center in Flanders. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Vince Taldone, longtime Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association board member and past president, has stepped down from the organization’s board of directors.

Taldone is moving out of the area and expects to close on his new home and relocate within the several weeks.

The FRNCA board presented Taldone with a plaque evidencing his honorary membership in the organization.

Taldone has been active in the group for nearly 20 years and has been on its board of directors since 2011, except for one year when he worked on grant proposals as a member of the economic development committee. He has served as president, vice president and treasurer of the organization.

Taldone, 62, has purchased an apartment in a co-op building in Manhattan with his partner of 17 years, Bob Johnson.

Born with a degenerative retinal disease, Taldone is visually impaired and can no longer drive a car. While he loves the Flanders area where he’s made his home for many years, having to rely on county bus service, taxi cabs or friends to get around is a very difficult challenge.

“In my new building, everything I need will be within easy reach,” Taldone said in an interview today. “It’s a very walkable, transit-oriented community. The grocery store and drug store are on the ground floor of my building. There’s a fresh fish market right across the street and two beautiful parks within a few blocks,” he said. The subway stop and bus stops are nearby and, he noted, you can get just about anywhere using public transportation.

“It’s everything we talk about wanting in our hamlet centers,” Taldone said.

The move will bring Taldone a new level of freedom he can’t enjoy on the East End.

Taldone has been a public transportation advocate in Suffolk County for a long time, because his failing eyesight forced him to give up driving a car when he was in his 40s. The New York City native quickly learned how deficient the public transit system is in Suffolk.

“Now they’re dong this whole ‘reimagine transit’ thing — which is how to cut the bus lines in half and call it something better,” he said.

Taldone is disappointed and frustrated by the slow pace of progress of the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan, a plan he and other community members worked hard to advocate for and develop. It was adopted by the Southampton Town Board in 2015 and implemented with new zoning adopted in December of that year.

The redevelopment plan, more than a year in the making, would create “a mixed-use and walkable gateway center to enhance the vibrancy of the Riverside Hamlet Center and create a diversity of uses,” including housing, the document states.

But for the plan to come to fruition, the area must have access to a wastewater treatment plant. The Town of Southampton plans to create a sewer district and build a treatment plant, but the effort has been stymied by the high cost of building a facility. So the redevelopment plan remains stalled.

“I’ve done my best,” Taldone said today. “I’m out of here.”

Still, he said, he expects to continue to work with his friends in FRNCA — albeit from a distance — on projects he’s been devoted to for years, such as the maritime trail along the Peconic River and improvements to Ludlum Avenue Park.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.