Great Neck heads to polls in two special district elections

Great Neck heads to polls in two special district elections
Robert Welner (left) and Mark Berger (right) are running to fill the vacant commissioner seat on the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District's Board of Commissioners. (Photos courtesy of the candidates)

Great Neck residents will be going to the polls Dec. 12 to vote in two special district elections – the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District and Great Neck Park District – in two competitive commissioner races.

Mark Berger and Robert “Bob” Welner, are racing to fill one of the seats on the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District’s Board of Commissioners. The two contenders are vying to fill the seat held by Jerry Landsberg, who is retiring from the board after 16 years of service.

Berger has been a resident of Great Neck since 2010. He is a public interest attorney, currently supervising a team of 50 attorneys, support staff and paralegals.

Berger said three reasons motivated his bid for Great Neck’s water commissioner: a desire to give back to his community, his passion for environmental protection and his legal and managerial experience.

“I have had an opportunity to serve the community to some extent so far,” said Berger, who has been a soccer coach for his son and served on a school board committee. “But I’ve always felt like I really need to do more. It’s never enough for me.”

Welner, a Great Neck resident of more than 40 years, is a professional civil engineer and executive vice president of Jobco Incorporated, a realty development and construction services company based in Lake Success.

As a civil engineer, Welner said he has already worked with the district in prior projects. One such included his designs for a sewer connection and disconnection. Welner said his background is in construction, development and funding, which he said will be an asset to the district.

The election will be held from 1-9 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District headquarters on 236 East Shore Road. Voters can enter through the Vista Hill Road entrance.

Incumbent Park Commissioner Tina Stellato and longtime resident Gordon Charlop are squaring off for the seat on the park district’s board.

Stellato, a former employee of the district and nearly 20-year resident of Great Neck, was elected to the Park District’s Board of Commissioners in 2017 and is seeking her third term in the December election.

She said she has a “dual perspective” that she brings to the board from being both a resident and a former employee of the district.

Stellato said she initially ran in 2017 as a woman and a mother of two kids, saying the board had not included a commissioner with that background when she ran.

Some highlights Stellato shared from her time as commissioner included keeping parks open and services available during the pandemic – and doing it safely. She said she also helped establish pickleball at Allenwood Park and acquire additional parkland for the first time in years

She said she is seeking re-election to continue her efforts in moving the district forward, bringing further engagement between the residents and the district and its parks.

“I think I’ve been a great catalyst for change,” Stellato said.

Charlop, a lifelong resident of the Great Neck Park District, is a Wall Street broker dealer, serving as the managing director of Rosenblatt Securities. He has a Ph.D in business, specializing in organization and management that he received from Capella University.

He said he was raised playing at Cutter Mill Park and is looking to bring his passion for neighborhood parks to the board to serve his community.

“Just like the volunteer fireman does what he can hauling ladders and hoses and the ambulance drivers do what they can as volunteers…I figured it was time for me to re-engage with the community,” Charlop said.

He said he was inspired to run for the position of park commissioner after witnessing what he said were questionable inequities within the park district.

Charlop criticized what he sees as disproportionate treatment between parks in the northern region of the district vs. parks in the southern region, with the southern parks falling into disrepair while the district hosts concerts with high-profile musicians.

“We are one park district,” Charlop said. “We’re not two.”

Eligible voters in the park district can vote from 1-9 p.m. on Dec. 12 at one of the three available polling locations based on their residence.

Residents in the park district’s first and second districts can vote at the Great Neck House at 14 Arrandale Ave.

District 3 residents can vote at the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Dept. Co. #3 located at 25 Prospect St.

District 4 residents can vote at Manhasset-Lakeville Firehouse #4 on Jayson Ave. & Northern Blvd.

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