This summer, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, a Bellmorite and Nassau County’s health commissioner, and Joe Baker, a lifelong Merokean and the president of the South Merrick Community Civic Association, were named the committee’s co-chairs. Eisenstein and Baker both said that Laura Munafo, the Nassau County regional lead for New York Rising, contacted them to let them know that they had the posts. Before she was appointed to lead roles in overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy, first with the county’s Office of Emergency Management and then with New York Rising, Munafo was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s executive assistant.
Munafo did not respond to multiple requests for an interview for this article.
In July, Eisenstein and Baker attended a conference for the chairs of each community committee in Albany, where they heard speeches, received informational pamphlets and attended a luncheon with Cuomo.
They made recommendations to Munafo for the 10 other seats on the Bellmore-Merrick committee. As of its first meeting, on Sept. 17 at AcQua Restaurant in south Merrick, the committee comprised Joanne Bo, who is active with Operation SPLASH; Eileen Casazza, vice president of the Bellmore Preservation Group; John Fabian, a former Merrick Fire Department chief; Ali Frankel, president of the South Bellmore Civic Association; Julie Marchesella, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce; Hugh Mason; Natalie Molloy; Randy Shotland, president of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce; Paul Waterman, another former Merrick Fire Department chief; Neil Yeoman, a retired engineer, and Eisenstein and Baker. Eisenstein said on Sept. 20 that he was unsure whether the membership might change.
Also attending the meeting were Munafo; five consultants from Arup, a multinational consulting firm based in London; and about 20 members of the public.
One of the consultants, Trent Lethco, gave a PowerPoint presentation and solicited input from the other attendees. Ideas ranged from the means of providing electricity if the grid were to go down, to elevating roads, to mitigating storm surge from south Bellmore and Merrick’s canals and sewers.