Written by Carol Frank Friday, 20 August 2010 00:00
The newly appointed superintendent of the Great Neck Park District, Leonard Celluro, Jr., has been shadowing outgoing superintendent Neil Marrin for the last few weeks and his “early impressions are of a caring, involved community and capable, positive staff.” Mr. Celluro says that everyone has made him feel welcome and that he looks forward to getting to know the people of the community. “Park programs touch the lives of everyone, from babies to seniors....I don’t know of a more rewarding profession. There’s nothing like seeing the reactions of people as they enjoy programs and special events.”
Mr. Celluro received his Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He is a Certified Recreation Professional with over 23 years of administrative and managerial experience in Montclair, Bloomfield and most recently as the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation in Hanover Township, New Jersey. He served as the Vice President of the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association and is a former State Award Winner of the NJRPA’s “Excellence In Design” and “Excellence In Programming” awards.
He will be commuting from his home in New Jersey, just over the George Washington Bridge. Mr. Celluro says that he is an early riser and will make the 33-mile trip timed to avoid traffic and that in inclement weather, he will take the train to Great Neck. He laughs and says, “My wife, Mia, calls me the ‘ultimate optimist’ but I don’t see the commute as an obstacle.”
Mr. Celluro’s interest in finding another job is a direct result of budget cutbacks in New Jersey. He said that the growing trend was to slash park budgets as “non-essential,” but he went on to say that his philosophy is that in hard economic times, people need, more than ever, the outlet that recreation can provide.
Another positive aspect of the position in Great Neck is the structure of the park district. Mr. Celluro says that in his previous administrative position, there was a complicated bureaucratic structure in which he reported to over a dozen people. He said, “I am impressed by how streamlined this structure is, having three commissioners, elected by the people, whose only mission is to make wonderful parks and recreational programs for community use.” He went on to add that he is very favorably impressed by the “transparency” of the board and their willingness to have active, vital community input.
When asked about his family, Mr. Celluro said that his wife, Mia, and their children, Alexis, 16 and Austin, 14, are very excited about his new post. In fact, after viewing the park district’s website and seeing photos of Parkwood and Steppingstone, his son said, “Dad, it’s like you’re going to be working in Disneyland!”