Each year, on a revolving basis, one of the three Great Neck Park District commissioners is elected for a three-year term. This year’s contested election will be held Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 1 to 9 p.m.
Incumbent Dan Nachmanoff, who has served two terms of six years as commissioner, will face off against Tina Stellato, who has worked for the Park District for more than 17 years, where she has served as both a tennis professional and scheduler at Parkwood Tennis. Stellato is married to Rob Villegas, the Parkwood tennis director.
Since under New York State law elected officials cannot be their own boss, if elected, Stellato will not be allowed to continue her employment with the Park District.
“A Park District employee cannot also serve as a Park District commissioner; so, if an employee is elected commissioner, he or she must choose between the two positions,” explained Christopher J. Prior, Park District counsel.
As far as the ramifications on Villegas’s position if Stellato is elected, she cannot be part of any decisions related to her husband’s employment.
“If the spouse of an elected Park District commissioner is an employee of the Park District, that commissioner must recuse himself or herself from decisions pertaining to the spouse employee,” said Prior.
Further, when her husband’s contract with Parkwood ends next year, as a relative of an elected official, his contract would not be eligible for renewal.
“The spouse of an elected Park District commissioner cannot enter into a contractual relationship with the Park District, either directly or through an entity that the spouse controls,” said Prior. “Such a contract cannot be entered into, even if the spouse commissioner recuses himself or herself from board action on such a contract. However, a contract between the Park District and the spouse of an elected Park District commissioner (or an entity that the spouse controls), that is already binding upon the Park District at the time the newly elected commissioner takes office may remain in effect, but only to the extent, and for the term, by which the Park District is bound at that time. Any decisions made regarding such a preexisting contract could only be made by decision of the other two commissioners. Such a preexisting contract cannot be renewed, regardless of whether the newly elected spouse-commissioner recuses himself/herself.”
For background information about the candidates, read the detailed qualifications, which each provided, below.
Residents should have received a postcard indicating their polling place. Park Election Districts No. 1 and 2 (which include the former E.M. Baker location) vote at Great Neck House, 14 Arrandale Ave.; District No. 3 votes at Great Neck Senior Center, 80 Grace Ave.; and District No. 4 votes at Manhasset-Lakeville Firehouse #4 at Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard.
Applications for absentee ballots are available at the Administration Building, 5 Beach Rd., or at Great Neck House, 14 Arrandale Ave. The last date to file the application for an absentee ballot to be mailed is Dec. 5. or pick up a ballot until Dec. 11.
For further information, call 516-482-0181.
My wife, Gloria, and I, have lived in Russell Gardens in Great Neck for more than 40 years. This is where we raised our three successful children, all graduates of Great Neck South High School.
A graduate of Bronx High School of Science, I received BA and DDS degrees from New York University and owned a dental practice in Queens for more than 40 years. I am a U.S. Army veteran, and spent three years in Germany and served during the Vietnam era.
I was mayor of Russell Gardens for three terms, totaling six years; president of the Great Neck Village Officials Association for two years; on the executive board of the Nassau County Village Officials Association for three years; director of Inter-Governmental relations for then-County Executive Tom Suozzi; and Great Neck Park District commissioner for two terms, totaling six years, where I was awarded the Friends of the Parks recognition in 2001 from the board of the Great Neck Park District.
I have been in public service for more than 20 years. As you can see, my experience and background does not bring me to the job as a novice. Leading an enterprise as complex as the Great Neck Park District with as many as 400 employees working at 21 facilities, including an ice rink, Olympic-size swimming complex and marina, is not ideal for on-the-job training. Dealing with unions, civil service, employee relations and contractors requires experience, dedication and patience.
As the demographics of Great Neck have evolved, as commissioner, I realize the importance of reaching out to our community’s diverse groups to incorporate everyone’s needs into our programs. With the team I currently work with, which includes Commissioners Bob Lincoln and Frank Cilluffo, as well as Superintendent Jason Marra, we do our very best to make sure there is something for everyone in the Park District—and more. Great Neck has so much to offer individuals and families, and I hope you will allow me to continue to serve you.
—Submitted by the candidate
Tina Stellato is a longtime resident of Great Neck, living in the Village of Thomaston for over 12 years. She has worked for the Great Neck Park District for over 17 years, where she has served as both a tennis professional and scheduler at Parkwood Tennis.
A top-ranked junior, Stellato was awarded a full tennis scholarship to St. John’s University. She graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a minor in English. During college, she worked part time at Parkwood Tennis. Upon graduation, Stellato worked in retail management and was a member of the buying team at Fox’s in Mineola, but her love for working with children and her passion for sports and recreation brought her back to the Great Neck Park District.
Stellato has been a member of Parkwood’s A-1 and Super A women’s tennis teams, where she has helped both teams secure league victories numerous times. She has taught tennis to hundreds of residents over the years, and many refer to her as their favorite tennis pro.
As a scheduler, Stellato has been at the front lines of communication with residents. She has been a problem solver, heard what they love about the Park District, and has been a sounding board for what they feel and know could be better. Stellato has always been approachable and easily accessible to everyone. She is known to get the job done.
In addition, Stellato has been a licensed Realtor with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s since 2007. This has fine-tuned Stellato’s negotiating skills, which would be a tremendous asset in any potential Park District negotiations.
As commissioner, Stellato looks forward to live streaming board meetings in an effort to get more of the community involved in Park District business. She plans to develop more programs for children with special needs, create more educational programs, introduce new sports to the Park District curriculum and revitalize the parks on the southern end of Great Neck. Stellato is eager to explore sites for a new recreation center and find solutions to the shortage of commuter parking.
Not a weekend goes by where Stellato and her husband, Rob, aren’t in the parks with their children, Michael, 6, and Gabrielle, 5, who are both students at E.M. Baker. Stellato is an active member of the PTO. Stellato served on the Parkville PTO executive board as recording secretary and is currently on the executive board at E.M. Baker, where she was recently cochair of the kindergarten social.
Stellato looks forward to working hard for the community that means so much to her.
—Submitted by the candidate