Dave Franklin, the Republican candidate for North Hempstead’s Councilmanic District 6, filed an ethics complaint against Democratic incumbent Mariann Dalimonte, his opponent, over her alleged role in the town’s negotiations for the acquisition of Sunset Park in Port Washington.
Franklin said in a press release that Dalimonte “made clear that she has been taking an active role in the town’s ongoing negotiations for the property.”
Sunset Park is owned by the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District. Dalimonte was appointed by the town as one of 11 officers of the Port Washington Business Improvement District, which holds a lease for their office with the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, which is a tenant of the district.
“She should have recused herself from the Town’s acquisition negotiations,” Franklin said. “By driving the process to transfer the property to the Town and extend license agreements with the organizations who currently utilize the park, Councilwoman Dalimonte is clearly mired in a conflict of interest, as it will directly benefit an organization of which she is a board member.”
Dalimonte, who served as executive director of the Port Washington Business Improvement District before being elected, was appointed by the town as one of 11 officers of the business improvement district.
Each of Dalimonte’s predecessors, Dina DiGiorgio and Fred Pollack, were also officers of the Business Improvement District as representatives of the town. Pollack was an officer when the town first tried to acquire the park a decade ago.
Dalimonte said during the Sept. 5 North Hempstead Town Board meeting that when the Business Improvement District talks about negotiations with the town on a potentially new lease agreement, she recuses herself.
According to the Business Improvement District’s minutes, Dalimonte has abstained from voting on matters that deal with the North Hempstead Town Board specifically.
When reached for comment, Dalimonte said the district is no longer working with the town to transfer Sunset Park.
The council member said last week she and DeSena received a letter from the district saying they are deferring the transfer of Sunset Park right now.
The public hearing to consider public input on the town acquiring Sunset Park will have to be continued to a later date, Dalimonte said.
“They feel it’s in the best interest of the district to remain property owners,” Dalimonte said.
During the Tuesday, Sept. 5 North Hempstead Town Board meeting, board members discussed supporting the town’s acquisition of Sunset Park, a 5.2-acre park owned by the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, a Republican, said there is a conflict of interest for Dalimonte to offer any resolutions on Sunset Park.
When asked specifically about what Dalimonte said during the meeting that made clear her active role, Franklin said Dalimonte spoke about working with the North Hempstead attorney on negotiating for the property.
The only time Dalimonte spoke to North Hempstead Attorney John Chiara was to recall previous clarifications she got from his office on whether or not there was a conflict of interest to offer the resolution.
Chiara said he is not aware of a conflict of interest and added the North Hempstead 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.
The North Hempstead Board of Ethics will be considering Franklin’s request to review a potential conflict of interest during its Wednesday, Sept. 20 meeting at 4:30 p.m.
Dalimonte’s campaign in a statement said the complaint was a “political stunt” by Franklin.
“Councilwoman Dalimonte stands firm in her effort to preserve Sunset Park as parkland in order to protect it from future development,” Dalimonte’s campaign said. “She has made her position clear and unambiguous and is within her right as a councilperson to advocate for town acquisition of this property.”
“This is a political stunt and shame on her opponent,” the campaign said.