The North Hempstead Board of Ethics unanimously determined Wednesday afternoon there is no conflict of interest over Council Member Mariann Dalimonte being a member of the town board and Port Washington Business Improvement District.
After convening on the matter in executive session Wednesday afternoon, board Chairman Joseph Sciame read into the record a letter that was sent to Dave Franklin, Dalimonte’s Republican opponent for the town’s Councilmanic District 6, who filed an ethics complaint over Dalimonte’s role in the town’s previous negotiations for the acquisition of Sunset Park in Port Washington.
“The board is of the opinion that the situation presented in your letter does not present a conflict of interest,” Sciame read.
Franklin accused Dalimonte of making it clear “that she has been taking an active role in the town’s ongoing negotiations for the property” referring to Sunset Park, a 5.2-acre park owned by the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District, during the Sept. 5 North Hempstead Town Board meeting.
North Hempstead was previously in talks with the water pollution control district over transferring the park, which is currently off as of now, Dalimonte told Blank Slate Media.
Sciame said Dalimonte’s role with the Business Improvement District, which she was appointed to by the town, is inextricably linked with her role as a council member and her predecessors – Fred Pollack and Dina DiGiorgio – also sat on the Business Improvement District, among other things.
Dalimonte is one of 11 officers of the Business Improvement District, which holds a lease for their office with the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, which is a tenant of the water pollution control district. The Business Improvement District spoke with the town regarding a potential new lease, something Dalimonte said multiple times she recused herself from.
The board said Wednesday it is not mandatory for Dalimonte to recuse herself.
Dalimonte said in a statement the complaint was a political stunt from Franklin, whom she did not mention by name, and that she is committed to providing transparency.
“I’ve always been committed to serving our community with integrity, and I knew that the facts would speak for themselves,” Dalimonte said. “The allegations made by my opponent were a desperate attempt to distract voters from the real issues facing our district.”
Franklin told Blank Slate Media his inquiry to the ethics board was to seek clarification from what was brought up at the town board meeting. Franklin said the only “political stunt,” as Dalimonte called his inquiry, was her resolution.
“Supervisor DeSena had a similar resolution on the agenda that was voted down by the Democrats on the Board so that Mariann’s resolution could be voted on and presumably passed, thus giving her credit for the acquisition of the property this close to the election,” Franklin said in a statement.
During the Sept. 5 town board member, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, a Republican, said Dalimonte can’t submit resolutions regarding Sunset Park due to her role with the town and Business Improvement District.
When asked for clarification by Dalimonte, Town Attorney John Chiara said he was not aware of a conflict of interest and added the board of ethics – where Franklin filed his complaint – is the determining body on conflicts of interest.
“I am not aware of a conflict of interest,” Chiara said during the Sept. 5 meeting.
A previous version of this story was published. It has since been updated.