If anyone questioned whether Eugene Scarpato loved the village in which he spent most of his life, all they had to do was look at his car.
“His license plate spelled Lynbrook,” current Mayor Alan Beach recalled. “He always put the people of Lynbrook first. He worked very hard in his position and served the public without asking for anything. He’s a gentleman who I admire tremendously.”
To honor Scarpato, Beach and the village board unanimously voted on Oct. 7 to rename the Village Pool the Eugene B. Scarpato Village Pool. Scarpato was instrumental in opening the pool in the summer of 2001, despite some controversy over its cost, and Beach said that even though Scarpato now lives in Vermont with his wife, Virginia, he de-serves to have a legacy in Lynbrook.
Scarpato, 88, lived on Hawthorne Street for many years and served as mayor from 1995 to 2007. He was responsible for creating the village’s 9/11 memorial and a walkway connecting the downtown shops to parking lots on Atlantic Avenue; overseeing several beautification projects; upgrading the lacrosse, soccer and Little League fields; and, at the request of Beach, approving a bond to fund the Lynbrook Roller Hockey rink at no cost to taxpayers.
Scarpato was also involved with several Catholic Youth Organization teams and coached track teams at Greis Park. Beach said he was grateful to Scarpato because he kept an open mind about the roller hockey rink, which continues to serve village residents 25 years after he approved its creation.
Scarpato moved to Vermont in 2008, and the village board at that time hosted a farewell ceremony in his honor, at which he received several citations. Then Mayor Brian Curran had him sit in the mayor’s seat one last time.
Scarpato was unable to attend the dedication ceremony, but his son, Donald, and daughter, Sue, accepted the honor on his behalf and read a message from their father to the residents and village board.
“This is so much appreciated and so humbling,” it read. “I proposed the village pool years ago, and it has thrived nicely over the years. My family and I will always remember this beautiful thought.”
Donald said he fondly recalled splashing around with his family and friends in the pool on many hot summer days. “That was my father’s legacy,” he said, thanking the village board for naming it in his honor.
Former longtime Village Attorney Peter Ledwith said he knew Scarpato for 30 years, and lauded the former mayor for the many projects he completed during his tenure. Ledwith described Scarpato as gentle, kind and smart, and noted that the mayor convinced him to take the village attorney’s position, even when Ledwith was unsure about committing to it.
“Anyone who knows him knows you can’t say no to Gene Scarpato,” Ledwith said. “He’ll talk to you and give you all the reasons why the answer should be yes. And when it’s all finished and done, you do it his way, which, by the way, is usually the best way.”
After saying yes himself, Ledwith remained the village attorney for 23 years before retiring in April 2018. His son-in-law and law partner, Tom Atkinson, took over the role afterward.
The Lynbrook pool remains a popular place for village residents to cool off each summer. The facilities include slide, kiddie and regular pools as well as a concession stand. Several swim teams practice and compete at the pool, the most experienced of which, dubbed the “gold team,” has earned the Nassau Municipal Swim Conference championship three straight years. There are about 200 swimmers divided among the teams, and roughly 2,300 Lynbrook and Rockville Centre residents use the pool each summer.
Beach said he was happy to bestow the honor on Scarpato because of all he did for Lynbrook while in office. “He was a nice guy and very dedicated to the village,” he said. “He was such a big believer in Lynbrook.”