The longtime chairperson of the Yorktown Parks and Recreation Commission was ousted last week by the Town Board in a vote that overturned a decision made in the final weeks of former Supervisor Ilan Gilbert’s administration.
Town Clerk Diana Quast, who was appointed to a new six-year term on the commission on December 17 in a 3-1 Democratic partisan vote, was subsequently removed February 4 in a 3-1 Republican partisan vote after the December 17 reappointment was ruled invalid.
According to the resolution, since Quast’s previous term expired on December 31, and the vacancy on the commission didn’t occur until January 1, the deciding vote cast by Gilbert, whose two-year term also ended December 31, to reappoint Quast can’t stand.
“We appointed someone to a position that wasn’t open,” explained Councilman Ed Lachterman, who was not in attendance at the December 17 meeting but has spearheaded an effort to ensure no elected officials or department heads serve on any town volunteer committees. “I’ve been very vocal on this. I’ve been very consistent on this.”
Lachterman, who made the motion to replace Quast on the Parks and Recreation Commission with Richard Romanski, president of the Yorktown Soccer Club who has served as an alternate on the commission, was supported by Supervisor Matt Slater and Councilman Tom Diana.
With Councilwoman Alice Roker absent due to illness, Councilman Vishnu Patel was unsuccessful in trying to convince his GOP colleagues to delay the vote for two weeks until Roker could weigh-in. Quast served as deputy clerk for most of Roker’s quarter century of time as town clerk in Yorktown and has been town clerk since 2017 after Roker retired.
“What is so urgent?” Patel argued. “Nothing has stopped. Conflict of interest is what bothers me. They can’t have any other interests or personal gain.”
Marcia Stone, resident of Shrub Oak, questioned Romanski being appointed to the commission since he owns a for-profit business called Kiids Sports, Inc., which offers soccer programs for youths ages three through 19 and adult soccer and basketball programming. The business also operates summer camps in conjunction with the Yorktown Parks and Recreation Department.
Stone said anyone on the commission should “not have a financial interest in that position and instead represents the town taxpayers in general.”
Resident Mark Lieberman also wondered why the board would not reappoint Quast, saying, “Why would you not reappoint an MVP to the winning team?”
Lachterman, Diana and Slater all maintained the decision was not driven by personalities or politics but a change in policy.
‘It has nothing to do with if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or Marvin Martian,” Diana remarked. “We’re just trying to correct a wrong. I have no ill feelings towards anyone. Everyone knew this was coming. This was going to happen at one point or another. I don’t think this should have been a surprise.”
“It’s a very sensitive situation because at the end of the day we still have to act professionally,” Slater said. “We’re doing our best to ensure that happens.”
Quast could not be reached for comment.
At the same December 17 meeting, Town Comptroller Patricia Caporale was reappointed to the Parks Commission for a term set to expire December 31, 2025. However, after the actions taken by the board last Tuesday night, Slater said Caporale resigned from the commission Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli, who was appointed on December 17 to the commission to fill the unexpired term of James Martorano, Jr. after Martorano became Parks and Recreation Superintendent, remains on the commission as the only elected official or department head.
That has been somewhat of a sore subject when it has been brought up at Town Board meetings with Paganelli not taking too kindly too remarks made mostly by Lachterman.
“It doesn’t matter who the official is. There’s just a problem with the blurring of lines,” Lachterman said at last week’s meeting.
Slater said he met with the Parks and Recreation Commission last Thursday night and talked about the need for a “clear delineation of responsibilities’ of the commission.
“I think it’s a professionalism of how we operate,” Slater said.
At that meeting, Al Avitabile was named chairman of the commission and Patrick Cumiskey was named vice chairman.