By Kathryn G. Menu
The newest member of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees talks about what he hopes to bring to the board during the next two years, the importance of preserving Sag Harbor’s waterfront and looking forward to the first sermon at the new Sag Harbor United Methodist Church.
How have things been different since last Tuesday?
I don’t really think it has been that different. I was really proud of the taxpayers – that they spoke, they voiced their opinion which is their privilege as residents and I am glad I was their pick.
What do you think you bring to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees that will set you apart from other members of the board over the next two years?
I don’t know if I am different from the other board members, but I do know my door will always be open, my phone is always on. I am a hands-on kind of guy where when I start something I like to finish it. I think when I reached out to the trustees and mayor before I started to run for office, I learned I will be one piece of this puzzle.
What would you say will be your initial goals when you take office July 1?
Well, I have spoken to [Mayor] Brian [Gilbride] and the trustees and I will have to play a little catch up. I will be looking at the minutes of meetings for the last year, sit down and really read them so I have an idea of who is on first and who is on second.
I would like this project they started with the accessory apartments finished, and I will help in any way I can. I think that is a win-win situation for the village taxpayers. If we can help an older person make some extra money with a legal apartment maybe it will help them stay in Sag Harbor, and that is a positive thing.
Change and preservation have been themes surrounding some of the major issues facing the village in recent years. What is important about Sag Harbor that needs to stay the same?
I think the waterfront has to preserved and maintained and we have to do whatever we can do to accomplish that. Along those lines, I would like to see remediation at Tide’s Beach [also known as Havens Beach] as soon as possible; but like everything else, it does take time. You have to study this and study that to know you are making the right decision.
We have to keep the waterfront pristine for the kids – they are our future. [The waterfront] was a gift I was given and we need to maintain it for them.
As a volunteer you serve on the board of wardens for the Sag Harbor Village Volunteer Fire Department and as chairman of the board of the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church. Do you see ways in which these organizations can work with village government for the betterment of the community?
[Sag Harbor United Methodist Church Pastor] Tom MacLeod is [the fire department’s] chaplain, so we normally have services at the church once a year. Tom is very involved in the community, mentoring – he really is at the top of my list. We will have our new [church] building soon and we will have some extra space there, so I can foresee us maybe hosting some community meetings there.
As a parent and coach, it is obvious supporting youth in Sag Harbor is a priority for you. How will you engage children in our community with local government and other organizations?
We have to open it up to them, invite them to meetings, go to the school and set up meetings with them. Our kids are definitely our future, so we have to give them every opportunity and tool we can, as parents and community leaders.
The new Sag Harbor United Methodist Church is almost complete. What was it like going through the sale of the historic church on Madison Street and moving on to this new facility? Was it the right decision?
Yes, it was the right decision and it was not an easy one, or one made solely by me. The Methodist Church has a great board of trustees and we have a dynamic pastor in Tom and without them none of this would be possible. He is one of a kind, definitely an inspiration and I am glad he is with us.
What community programs do you hope to host at the new church?
We have a couple of groups that already meet at the church and I am sure they will come with us to the new building, and from there we will just build on that. We do hope to be a vital part of the Sag Harbor community.
What are your hopes for the first sermon, which will hopefully happen later this summer? Will it be an emotional experience?
Definitely. To see something that was a piece of woodlands become a building and then to be inside, sitting in a chair with Tom preaching will be an emotional experience. This has been a journey we have been on for over five years.