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North Hempstead hires new town parks and recreation director, horticulturist

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March 5, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

North Hempstead officials have hired a new town parks and recreation director and a new horticulturist for Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson.

Kelly Gillen, who worked for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for 15 years and most recently was deputy bureau chief for Queens Recreation, has been appointed to the deputy commissioner's post. The position is new for North Hempstead, which will pay Gillen $90,000 a year.

Bonnie Lynn Klein, the new botanic garden horticulturist, spent 13 years as a community horticulture educator and facilitator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County and will receive a salary of $56,668. She succeeds Ryan Torres, who left Sept. 28 to take another position.

"We are very excited about these new additions to the North Hempstead family that will help us continue to make North Hempstead's park system second to none," Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a news release. "Kelly and Bonnie both bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that are sure to help enhance our . . . parks."

Gillen, of Williston Park, was responsible for planning and implementing recreational programs and special events in Queens. For North Hempstead, she will be responsible for recreational programming and managing the community centers, lifeguard operations and field permits. She starts her deputy commissioner job on May 4.

"I am excited to join the Town of North Hempstead and to work with the Supervisor and Commissioner to continue to provide robust recreational programming to residents of all ages," Gillen said in an email. "I look forward to utilizing my expertise in this area to add to the Town's already outstanding parks system."

Klein lives in Old Bethpage and started her job at Clark Garden on April 6. At the Cornell cooperative, she instructed master gardener classes and supervised the Horticultural Diagnostic Center. She is also a former ornamental horticulture adjunct professor and curriculum adviser at Farmingdale State College.

At Clark Garden, Klein's duties will include preparing landscape plans and estimates for plants, shrubs and seeds, and designing horticultural exhibits and flower shows.

"Clark Botanic Garden is a very special place in the Town where people of all ages can learn about plants and our environment," Klein said in an email. "I am eager to toil in the gardens and fortunate to call these 12 acres my new office."

The town manages more than 1,000 acres of park space that includes six pool facilities, a golf course, three community centers and more than two dozen outdoor playing fields.

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