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North Hempstead Town loses second parks commissioner in 2 years

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset.

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Officials in North Hempstead are replacing the town’s parks commissioner for the second time in 2 years.

Arnyce Foster-Hernandez told Newsday in an interview Friday that she left to pursue a career in the culinary industry, which has been a passion of hers for a long time.

"I left because my skills, talents and expertise will be better-suited for my personal pursuits of being a business owner and entrepreneur," said Foster-Hernandez, who lives in Harlem. "I’ve spent 33 years in government, 31 in the [New York] city and almost two years in the town. Divine orchestration has allowed me to be able to not avail my time, my energy and my skills to government any longer."

Foster-Hernandez joins a growing list of top town officials who have left their posts since late 2018, including her predecessor Jill Weber, who was parks commissioner for more than four years before retiring in June 2019.

Town spokesman Gordon Tepper said turnover occurs naturally over time in government and noted that North Hempstead has had an "extraordinarily consistent management team" over the past two years.

"The town is a great place to work and we only hire the best and the brightest," Tepper said.

Kelly Gillen, who was hired in 2015, will move from chief deputy commissioner of Parks and Recreation to acting commissioner. Her annual salary is $132,000.

Foster-Hernandez resigned on Aug. 6, Tepper said. She had an annual salary of $134,640 and oversaw the town’s 52 parks, a department budget of $17.5 million and about 300 to 400 employees.

Her resignation was approved 7-0 at a Sept. 2 town board meeting. The board also agreed to "the execution of a settlement agreement and release (the "Settlement Agreement") between the Town and Arnyce Foster-Hernandez, a former employee, for the purpose of resolving issues related to the employment of the employee …," according to the resolution.

North Hempstead Town officials declined to comment on details of the settlement.

Foster-Hernandez, who will be 47 on Monday, did not confirm or deny a settlement with the town, but she praised her former parks department colleagues.

"The people that worked for the parks department, specifically, those are the people who I enjoyed working with because any employee, in the public sector or private sector, deserves their leadership to be consistent, transparent, fair, empathic and professional," Foster-Hernandez said. "Personally, it’s those relationships that I’ve established with the employees of the parks department that I will miss solely."

Other high-profile departures in North Hempstead Town have included various department heads. In 2019, seven top-level officials left their jobs. Robert Lange, the former executive director of the Solid Waste Management Authority, resigned from his $152,026-a-year position after three years on the job. Former communications director Carole Trottere retired around the same time and was replaced by Tepper. Former Highway Superintendent Richard Baker resigned four months after taking the job in July 2019. The post was not filled until this past April with the hire of Harry Weed, of Seaford.

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