Town Clerk Diana Quast was removed from the Parks and Recreation Commission after Town Attorney Adam Rodriguez and the Town Board deemed her appointment to it by outgoing Supervisor Ilan Gilbert invalid.
At the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, the governing body passed a resolution along party lines, 3 to 1, to remove Quast, a Democrat, from the commission and to appoint Richard Romanski, an alternate on the commission, to it instead.
Republicans Supervisor Matt Slater and Councilmen Tom Diana and Ed Lachterman voted in favor of the removal, while Democratic Councilman Vishnu Patel voted against the resolution. Democratic Councilwoman Alice Roker was not present for the vote to remove Quast, who had been appointed in the last days of Gilbert’s administration and whose term began Jan. 1.
The decision followed a finding by Rodriguez that outgoing elected officials cannot make appointments to positions that begin after their terms end.
However, some at the Feb. 4 meeting still questioned Quast’s removal.
Mark Lieberman of Yorktown praised Quast’s performance on the commission during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“Just look at the Granite Knolls Sports Complex. This enormous project has turned out to be the talk of the county,” Lieberman said. “Why would you not reappoint an MVP to the winning team?”
He also questioned Slater’s motives.
“I would also like to point out the supervisor’s stated intent to manage in a nonpartisan manner but within five weeks of his inauguration, the Town Board will make an extremely partisan decision. They will replace the MVP of the opposition with their own man,” Lieberman said.
In an interview, Slater denied politics were involved in the decision.
“The driving force behind it was the invalid appointment. This isn’t about politics or personalities. This was something that some of our colleagues on the board had wanted to address and raised concerns about in December,” Slater said. “We had several conversations leading up to this, some of which Councilwoman Roker was a part of, and we, of course, value her input.
Ultimately a decision was made to move it forward and just bring a close to the issue.”
John Campobasso, president of the Yorktown Athletic Club, agreed the matter should be put to rest.
“Whether you keep elected officials, don’t keep them, a decision needs to be made at this point,” Campobasso said. “There’s so much back and forth, there’s mistrust. I think that everybody kind of wonders what’s happening. They are volunteers, but there’s a lot of volunteers that will put their time in.”
The Yorktown News reached out to Quast, who was not present for the meeting. She declined to comment.
“I want to thank Diana Quast for her years of service to the parks commission because she really has done good work and I don’t think anyone’s trying to take that away from her,” Slater said. “Like I said, it was the invalid appointment and the decision to move in a different direction.”
When asked about reviewing other appointments and volunteer boards, Slater said plans were already underway to sit down with other committees and have discussions about changes to them.
The Landmarks and Preservation Commission was planning to sit down with the Town Board at its work session on Tuesday, Feb. 11, to discuss changes to its organization.
Slater said the board also will be discussing changes related to the ethics board and its bylaws this month.
“There are items that we need to continue to address and we have all intentions of addressing them,” Slater said.
After attending the Thursday, Feb. 6, Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Slater said that it already was making progress by addressing outdated bylaws and resolutions.
“I thought it was very important that I did that just to speak with and communicate with the commissioners directly,” Slater said.
“I’m very happy to see that they’ve already begun a process of laying out updated bylaws and addressing governing resolutions and it comes down to professionalizing how they operate. I think the parks commission eventually is going to become the model for the other boards and committees.”