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Former Mayor Steve Tell Dies

Led Village of Great Neck

Former Village of Great Neck Mayor Steven Tell died this past Sunday, July 19, 2009 following a long illness. He was 66 years old. Serving as mayor from 1997 until 2001, Mayor Tell held many other positions in the Old Village over the years and maintained a deep interest in Great Neck during the past several years since he moved. He was well-known for his great sense of humor and his sense of fair play, especially when it came to village decisions.

Mayor Tell first served the village as a member of the planning board, where he eventually became chairman. He also served on the board of appeals and rose to chairman in that post. Next, Mayor Tell was elected a trustee of the Old Village, serving in that post from 1989 until 1993. During his years on the board of trustees, prior to becoming mayor, Steve Tell also served as deputy mayor. Mayor Tell was elected mayor in 1997, serving for four years, until 2001. At various times he also served as village assessor, marriage officer, and a member of the Great Neck Housing Authority.

Other public positions include: a member of the board and treasurer of the Nassau County Police Reserves which honors police officers’ children with college scholarships and provides for non-budgeted items; member of the board of the Suffolk County Police Reserves; and member of the board of Police Explorers, where the Nassau County Police Department invites students from local schools between the ages of 14 and 20 to participate in Police Explorers, which under police supervision, assists the police department. 

A member of the Better Government Party in the Village of Great Neck, Mayor Tell chaired the party for several years.

Professionally, Mayor Tell was a construction claims consultant. At the time of his death he was CSS operations manager at ARCADIS, an international company that delivers consulting, engineering and project management services for infrastructure, environment and facilities. Prior to that he was senior principal and chairman of Greyhawk Construction Managers & Consultants, a company he co-founded.

Current Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman remembered his good friend: “Steve and I often would joke that he was the reason for most of my gray hair. I met Steve when he first became mayor of our village and we were close friends ever since, in spite of his successful efforts to get me involved in the village by appointing me to two village boards. Steve so enjoyed being mayor and brought his construction management and business experience to the job with a large dose of humor and his fabulous good nature. You just had to like Steve and he loved our village. Even after he and Sheryl left the village after his many, many years of service, we would talk for hours at a time about recent happenings and, of course, he offered invaluable advice. On behalf of a very grateful village, I express my condolences to Sheryl, Benjamin, Harris and his entire family. On a more personal note, Steve, I will miss you.”

Another longtime friend of Steve Tell, Village of Great Neck Clerk/Treasurer John Dominsky knew the former mayor for many years: “What I remember best about Steve Tell was his sense of humor. Steve loved to tell jokes. I met Steve in the late ’70s when we both were LIRR commuters into Manhattan. We would take a five-seat unit of two facing benches together with Mel Goldberg of Kensington and Dick Weiss of Kings Point (living two houses west of Steve’s home on Steamboat Road). The fifth seat was eventually taken by a young lady optometrist, Jerelyn Marcus. The 35-minute ride to Penn Station was over almost as soon as it began as Steve’s tales and jokes made the time go by so fast. David Ferguson and I were instrumental in bringing Steve into the Better Government Party, but it was Steve’s enthusiasm and technical qualifications that brought him his appointments. I actually served with Steve on the Board of Appeals for a year. Steve then was instrumental in my receiving an appointment from Mayor Isabel Varlotta as village clerk/treasurer. Steve was elected and served as mayor from 1997 to 2001 and during that time reappointed me twice as clerk/treasurer.”

Saddle Rock Mayor and Great Neck Village Officials Association President J. Leonard Samansky told the Great Neck Record: “I had the pleasure of working with Mayor Tell during his tenure as mayor of the Village of Great Neck and as a director of the Water Authority of Great Neck North. Steve was a dedicated and hard working mayor and director.  He brought his construction management skills to the village and the authority. He was always careful to protect the welfare of all those he served whether knowing the Village of Great Neck as only an expert would or improving the means and methods of assuring that Authority bidding practices were in proper form and written with a keen eye toward the benefit of the customer. For those who thought Steve was pure business, think again, he was a dreamer who loved his model planes and he flew them into the wild blue yonder as dreamers do.”

Steven Tell is survived by his wife, Sheryl, two sons Harris and Benjamin (and his wife Melissa) and three grandchildren, Madison, Shelby and Zachary.

In memory of former Village of Great Neck Mayor Steven Tell, all Village or Great Neck flags will fly at half-staff for a month.