An incumbent commissioner, Frank Cilluffo, is running against a Great Neck resident, Neil Leiberman, in this month’s election for the Great Neck Park District board.
Leiberman, a former New York City guidance counselor and physical education teacher, said he is making his fourth attempt to be elected to the board because he is “passionate” about the park district.
Cilluffo said the district has undertaken capital improvements, added services and promoted conservation efforts during his tenure.
Leiberman said: “I want to preserve what we have, which is precious and irreplaceable. Our parks contribute to our health, well-being, quality of life and spirit of our community.”
He said for more than two decades he has been actively involved in the park district by attending meetings and serving on various advisory committees, and it is the only elected office he has sought because he is “so committed to keeping our parks and park programs the best they can be and being the strongest representative for constituents to insure fiscal responsibility.”
He said the No. 1 challenge facing the park district is how to best manage its finances.
“The biggest challenge is to maximize what we do with limited tax dollars, constantly finding that crucial balance between user fees and nontax revenues in a way that preserves our most important mission of making available facilities and programs to the community and responding to changing needs of a changing community,” Leiberman said.
He added that another challenge was to expand parking on the peninsula with the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access Project, which will bring the LIRR straight into Grand Central Station. Park district officials have said the project would increase ridership by 20 percent at the Great Neck train station upon its completion.
If elected, Leiberman said, he would work to continue improving programs offered to the Great Neck community, which would include more wellness and fitness programs like “sunrise yoga” at Steppingstone Park and tai-chi on the Village Green.
He also said that if elected, he wants to work “more collaboratively” with the school district, Great Neck Library and Gold Coast Arts Center by offering programs like art shows and “giving young performers and creators more opportunities to showcase their work” at park district facilities.
Leiberman said he was in favor of the park district pursuing the purchase of the Kings Point Tennis Center and turning it into an indoor recreational facility.
Cilluffo is seeking his second term on the Board of Commissioners after first winning election in December 2014, defeating three opponents to serve out the remainding two years of former park district Commissioner Ruth Tamarin’s three-year term.
He said he was running again to “build our community and enrich the lives of all our residents through leisure activities, parks and conservation initiatives.”
Cilluffo is a retired New York City police officer and a police academy graduate with a degree in information technology.
He currently coaches in the Great Neck Hockey program and PAL soccer program.
“Over the past year, I have been part of many capital improvement projects such as the Memorial ballfield and playground renovation, the paving of commuter parking lots where we added a total of 21 additional parking spaces, and we are in the final stages of construction of our new administration building at 5 Beach Road,” Cilluffo said. “In addition to our recent capital improvements, I was most enthusiastic about our ‘extended Summer’ at the Parkwood Pool Complex. For the first time, after many years of requests from residents we kept the pool facility open for an additional two weeks after Labor Day at no additional cost to our patrons.”
He also said he was proud of the conservation efforts he has been a part of at the park district, which include the organic turf management program, leaf mulching and the planting of 100 trees throughout the park district for its 100-year anniversary.
Cilluffo serves on the park district’s Parkwood Rink Advisory Committee, as well as on the Board of Safe Sports.
If elected, he said, he will continue to work with the two other commissioners, Robert Lincoln and Daniel Nachmanoff, and the superintendent, Jason Marra, to “improve our communication with our community through technology.”
“We will introduce online program registration, a new website, social media and community surveys to improve our recreation services in early 2017,” Cilluffo said. “The focus will be on building our community and we will use technology to interact with our patrons and provide the highest level of customer service.”
He said voters should vote for him because of his “proven track record” of commitment to improving operations at the park district.
“I will continue to be, as I have been over the past two years, responsive to our district residents in order to meet the needs of our community,” Cilluffo said. “During my two-year tenure as commissioner we have not raised park district taxes while making numerous improvements.”
“We will continue to do more with less and find creative ways to generate revenue through new recreation programming,” he added. “It has been a pleasure serving this community and I will be dedicated to all Great Neck Park District residents for the next three years and beyond.”
The park district election will take place on Dec. 13 and polls will be open between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The polling sites are Great Neck House, located at 14 Arrandale Ave., Great Neck Social Center, located at 80 Grace Ave. and the Manhasset-Lakeville Firehouse located at 97 Jayson Ave.
The Great Neck Park District includes all Great Neck villages and unincorporated areas with the exception of Great Neck Estates, Harbor Hills, Lake Success, Saddle Rock and University Gardens.