By JOHN NUGENT
Laura Gillen ended her tenure as Hempstead Town supervisor on Tuesday as she began after her election in 2017 – by opposing personnel changes approved by the Republican Town Council majority.
Gillen was critical of several personnel changes passed by the board, saying they were not allocated in the 2020 budget. She cited the expense of $475,000 for 12 town employees who were transferred or granted raises that are unfunded.
Gillen also opposed the appointment of John Mastromarino as town comptroller. She stated that in his prior tenure in that position, taxes went up $63.5 million and added that the town cannot afford that kind of fiscal mismanagement. Mastromarino will earn a salary of $175,000.
Gillen also noted that in the election campaign her opponent criticized her for hiring people who do not live in the town. She then pointed out that Bruce Blower, who was recently hired as director of communications, does not live in the town.
Gillen was the first Democrat to win the supervisor position in more than a hundred years. She was defeated in her re-election bid last month by Republican Receiver of Taxes, Donald Clavin.
But Gillen also had praise for the board.
“It has been my privilege and my honor to serve as the supervisor of the Town of Hempstead for the past two years, “ she said in her closing remarks.
She also praised her fellow board members saying, “I am proud of the work that we did together,” adding “I wish good luck to the incoming supervisor.”
Before the meeting opened, the board saluted George Bruns, a prominent figure in Long Island basketball, with a certificate of achievement.
Bruns played for the New York Nets in the 1972-73 season. Prior to that he played on the Manhattan College team.
After retiring as a player, Bruns became a high school math teacher. He coached at Monsignor McClancy High School in Queens and later at Nassau Community College.
He currently coaches the boys basketball team at Manhasset High School where he led his team to the Nassau County Championship in 2011.
Gillen praised Bruns as “an extraordinary athlete, teacher and coach who has left an indelible impact on the Town of Hempstead.”
“He has been passing along his knowledge and wisdom for the game to the next generation of basketball stars at his youth sports camp in West Hempstead for the past four decades,” she said.
In other business, the board reserved a decision on an application of Ramautor Manoj to open an auto repair shop with outdoor storage for vehicles under repair in Roosevelt.
Manoj and his attorney made a presentation to the board that described the business as “low intensity,” operating completely inside and only during the day on weekdays.
Several people who live near the site raised strong objections, citing the prospect of increased traffic that would be dangerous to children who play in the area.
John Boyd, president of the Roosevelt Chamber of Commerce, noted that Roosevelt is a community of only one square mile in area and added that there is another auto repair shop only 100 feet from the location. He said the chamber does not support the application.
Roosevelt resident Calvert Jones expressed concern about more traffic and spoke of accidents that have occurred in the area.
An application by Path Land Holdings, LLC to add a convenience store to an existing gas station at Hicksville Road and Central Avenue in Bethpage met with strong objection from local residents.
One person who lives directly behind the property said that his property would lose considerable value from the noise of a 24-hour business operating on the site.
The board reserved a decision on the application.