(photo: Stu Weinstein) After 10 years as president of the North Bellmore Civic Association, which tackled neighborhood issues such as Western Beef, the Army base, beautifying Jerusalem Avenue, proliferation of cell towers into the community and expansion of Stop & Shop, Reinaldo Nunez stepped down recently and passed the presidency to Vice-President Stu Weinstein. Dan Checkla became the civic association’s vice-president.
Retiring from General Foods after 25 years as a corporate salesman, Nunez told Your NewsMag that “I’m moving south for the warmth.” He added that the move was bittersweet. “I’m excited to be retiring, but I’m also leaving something behind.”
What Nunez leaves behind after 10 years is a legacy that included a groundswell of support leading to Western Beef withdrawing its application to occupy the corner building at Jerusalem Avenue and Pea Pond Road (open now as North Shore Farms) after the Town of Hempstead agreed to allow Western Beef to come in.
He also pushed for re-beautification of Jerusalem Avenue between Newbridge Road and Bellmore Road, a clock tower at the corner of Newbridge Road and Jerusalem Avenue, and helped spearhead the challenge to keep a new cell tower from being placed on Southern Parkway and Bellmore Road.
The courts ruled against him and the association – and the Town of Hempstead – regarding the former 17-acre Army base, however, saying they found the town did not include in its laws anything that defined what a developer could develop on the acreage.
“The state, the county and the town all had the opportunity to purchase the land to keep it open for smart development,” remarked Weinstein, “but it wasn’t to be.”
“Reinaldo was an effective president,” Weinstein continued. He reached out to the public and elected officials and because of it could get things accomplished, he said.
Added Dan Checkla, “Reinaldo was a terrific leader, and he sets a high bar for the association” in the future. He said Nunez helped maintain the bi-partisan manner the association is revered for today.
Nunez moved to North Bellmore 19 years ago from Uniondale. “Coming from Manhattan to UniondaIe, I wasn’t exposed to politicians with whom I could speak,” he remembers. But under the leadership of Mary Ellen Kraye of the Uniondale Civics Council, he saw how the council helped develop a community center, and spearhead better school programs and a learning center. He quickly became involved in UCC, and later would become president of the Uniondale Hispanic Association and the local Kiwanis club.
“Michael Balboni was the local representative at the time, and encouraged me to continue my civics work within the community,” Nunez told this magazine. “Joe Mondello was also a member of the Uniondale Hispanic Association,” he remembers, and Tom Gulotta would often work with both the UCC and Hispanic association.
Nunez said that as his family grew, he needed a new house for his children and moved to North Bellmore. He believes Norma Gonsalves [presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature] and John Mulligan first developed the foundation of the North Bellmore Civic Association, with Bill Christiansen quickly following Mulligan as president. Scott Belovin, Christiansen’s son-in-law, followed in Christiansen’s shoes but was quickly followed by Nunez. “The people of Bellmore welcomed me right away, so I got involved,” he said.
“I think people in the community should be involved with civics and other community matters so they can impact their surroundings,” Nunez said. “We were an activist association that made sure we responded to those things that could have had a negative impact on the community.”
Both Weinstein and Checkla face new realities as president and vice-president of the association, where funding is down, reducing its outreach and ability to meet on a regular basis. “We all met before Reinaldo left to agree to reduce our meetings from once a month to five a year,” said Weinstein. Those will be in October and November during elections, in April, May and in June, during the annual association meeting.
“We have good membership, but must work to bolster it,” said Weinstein. Although Checkla added, “We will increase our meetings when we think there are larger issues facing the community that need our attention and discussion.”
Meanwhile, as new North Bellmore Civic Association president, Weinstein still maintains a handle on the Town of Hempstead Civic Council, a council he helped form years ago. “It is a council that continues to address larger regional issues across all communities when discussion warrants it,” he concluded.
– DF –