"This is a place where you can escape for a little while, a place to appreciate nature and beauty . . . and walk the trails," said Lorraine Bondi-Goldsmith of Plainview, acting president of Friends of Tackapausha.
The museum's director, Wendy Balin, was let go in recent cuts of more than 260 county positions. County Executive Edward Mangano instituted the job cuts in December as part of his effort to close the county's budget deficit.
County officials, including two park officials at the rally, said that while the site is closed for renovation, it is expected to reopen in mid-April -- though without a director. The 84-acre preserve contains oak forests, ponds and streams and has five miles of trails.
Therese Lucas, one of many South Shore Audubon Society members and North Bellmore residents at the rally, praised Balin's performance. "She was the only full-time staff person here and was dedicated," Lucas said. "They should bring her back."
Mangano spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles declined to comment "on individual personnel matters."
She said Nassau "has invested significant dollars" to improve the museum and preserve, and "has reorganized administration to ensure our museums are properly staffed during peak hours of visitation." The museum is available by appointment for private rentals, she said.