North New Hyde Park’s two civic groups voted to merge last Wednesday night, bringing about 2,000 households under one umbrella.
Members at the groups’ meeting unanimously approved the merger, in which the Lakeville Estates Civic Association absorbed the North Lakeville Civic Association.
Papers were mailed to Albany on Thursday to make the merger official in state records.
The members also unanimously elected three officers to lead the new group: Bill Cutrone will continue as president, Bobby Thind of North Lakeville is vice president and Jean Capobianco of North Lakeville is the treasurer.
“This is the best thing going forward,” Cutrone said. “We can go out more unified and talk to the neighbors and fight for each other.”
The groups’ officers agreed on the merger last month, saying a lack of volunteers for leadership roles left a small group of officers that could not sustain both organizations.
Members saw how the civic groups were struggling to grow participation and felt a merger would help the two groups be more unified and productive after several years of working jointly anyway, Cutrone said.
It will also make joining the group less confusing, Thind said — some people lived on the same street but belonged to different groups because of how they were geographically divided.
”Basically the challenges [have] not either grown or diminished, but what I would say is since we merged, now hopefully we would have more volunteers to step up to the plate to do a little bit more than what we could have done before,” said Thind, who proposed the merger earlier this year.
The civic groups were formed separately in the 1940s because their respective areas were within different water, fire and school districts, said Marianna Wohlgemuth, a former Lakeville Estates president and longtime New Hyde Park civic activist.
In recent years they have spearheaded crime-prevention efforts and beautification projects while advocating for services such as road repairs from the state, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead.
Officers plan to appoint one liaison to all fire departments, one to all water districts and one to all school districts covering the area, Cutrone and Thind said.
The unified group represents about 2,000 households in unincorporated North New Hyde Park and has about 300 dues-paying members. That will give leaders clout with municipalities and others, Thind said.
“The numbers will speak for themselves,” he said. “Usually there’s power in numbers.”
Growing membership remains the group’s primary challenge, Cutrone and Thind said. Participation has dwindled in recent years as older members step back and younger newcomers juggle increasingly busy schedules, the leaders said.
The group may send a newsletter each year to every house in the area to raise awareness about its efforts and encourage residents to join, Thind said.
“We want people to know that we’re going to be out there and we’re going to be fighting for what we think is fair,” Cutrone said.
Wohlgemuth said she thinks two separate groups gave civic activists a more powerful and effective voice, but she sees promise in the merged group.
“I still have reservations, but I’m hopeful that this will be the cure for what ails the civic,” she said.