Tag Archive | "Greg Ferraris"

Aquaponic Farming, Rooftop Garden Proposed for Sag Harbor’s Page at 63 Main

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By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to join the growing farm-to-table food movement on the East End, Page at 63 Main has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming and a rooftop garden to enable the restaurant to grow its vegetables on site.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics and aquaculture in a symbiotic environment. Through hydroponics, plants are cultivated in water and aquatic animals (in this case fish) are raised through aquaculture. Aquaponics allows the water from the aquaculture system — filled with nutrients from fish by-products — to be then fed into the hydroponic system to fuel the growing plants.

Attorney Dennis Downes represented Gerard Wawryk, one of the owners of the Main Street, Sag Harbor restaurant, at a Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

The building currently has a footprint of 3,860 square feet, an area the project would not alter. The building’s front portion is two stories, the middle section has a one-story frame and masonry structure and the rear section has two stories. The restaurant occupies the building’s ground floor and the second floor houses a residential apartment.

Although the footprint would not be changed, the proposal would add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not currently meet the full footprint) which would be added over the one story middle portion of the building and serve as a seeding area. A partial 481 square foot third floor over the rear potion of the building would serve as a greenhouse and the second story roof would house a garden.

“There is no change in parking or change in sewer,” Downes said Tuesday, adding that water in the tanks would not be going into the sewer as board members had previously wondered.

The plan was first introduced to the planning board in a work session November 26. At Tuesday’s meeting, Downes asked the board to adopt a resolution to send a 30-day letter for lead agency status and to allow the demolition of a gable roof.

Downes said renovations to the kitchen, which did not require approval, are underway and the applicants want to “put a solid roof on top of it that they can then incorporate it into a new building at a later date.”

The board adopted the resolution for lead agency status and entertained a motion to send a memo to building inspector Tim Platt allowing the demolition of the gable roof.

Planning board member Greg Ferraris asked Downes for documentation from an expert verifying the plan, in fact, has no effect to waste management and Downes replied he would have the sewer flow verified.

First Legal Accessory Apartment Approved by Sag Harbor

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The first accessory apartment in the residential district in Sag Harbor was approved last Tuesday night, November 24 in the inaugural session of the village’s new Accessory Apartment Review Board. The committee was appointed by village trustees to carry out an aspect of the new village code that seeks to provide affordable housing and bring longstanding illegal apartments in Sag Harbor up to code.

Allan and Jerilyn Morrel were approved for a permit for the accessory apartment by board members Neil Slevin, Gregory Ferraris and Larry Perrine – all members of the village planning board, who will annually rotate seats on the review board. The apartment, on Brandywine Drive, will encompass 650 square-feet of space that once housed an indoor pool.

“It’s kind of great to see something we implemented in the last three or four years coming to fruition, so thank you,” said Ferraris, a former mayor who recently oversaw the revision of the village code.

Ferraris said he believed the Morrels met every requirement of the new code, which allows the review board to approve 50 new accessory apartments in the village.

Accessory apartments in the residential district in Sag Harbor are allowed under the new village code as long as the apartment is in an owner-occupied building. Only one accessory apartment is allowed per home, containing only two bedrooms and a maximum of 650 square feet.

“The building inspector has the responsibility and the authority to make sure it adheres to the new code,” explained Ferraris. “The only decision we really make is whether it is suitable in the neighborhood.”

No neighbors voiced or wrote in complaints about the Morrels’ proposal.

Ferraris said he believed other individuals had approached the building department about applying for the apartments, but no applications had been filed to his knowledge. Regardless, he was pleased about the first approval.

“We looked at it both ways,” he said. “It is a way to provide affordable housing just by the size of the apartments and it could bring existing apartments into code compliance.”

Board and Regulars Bid Ferraris Adieu

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For six years, Greg Ferraris has served the Village of Sag Harbor — first as a trustee, then leading the village as its mayor for the last three years. On Tuesday night, Ferraris presided over his final village board meeting with residents, department heads and board members coming out to support the mayor who has led the village through years marked by unprecedented development and economic challenges.

Nada Barry, who presides over the Sag Harbor Youth Committee and owns The Wharf Shop, a village toy store, began the evening by congratulating Ferraris on his service with a balloon from her shop.

“We have been through a lot of mayors — Jim [Early, Superintendent of Public Works] and I — and I would say you are in the top two,” Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said, recognizing trustee Ed Deyermond who served as mayor of Sag Harbor prior to Ferraris’s tenure on the board. Deyermond is also stepping down as trustee, and will not seek reelection to his seat in the upcoming election.

“You started a lot of projects here. Actually, this whole board started a lot of projects here,” continued Fabiano, endorsing current board member Brian Gilbride to take Ferraris’s seat.

“I hope some day in the future you decide to come back and serve the village again,” trustee Ed Gregory told Ferraris.

“It’s not all agreements and hugs and kisses,” said Gilbride. “This has really been a great ride and it’s a sad day.”

Deyermond, who has presided over the village as both mayor and a trustee since he began the Sag Harbor Party with Gilbride in 1994, said he was “happy and honored” to have served village residents for so many years. The current Southampton Town Tax Assessor remembered the day he asked Ferraris to run for trustee in 2003.

“I was honored from that point on and he has been just a great mayor and a great friend,” said Deyermond. “Seeing as I am the only ex-mayor in the room, I think I am the only one who is allowed to say, you’re the best.”

Ferraris, whose wife and daughter attended his last board meeting, said the evening was a little overwhelming and that as a member of a five-person board he was proud to lead one able to accomplish so much.

“I want to thank you all as board members,” said Ferraris, who also endorsed Gilbride for mayor and thanked all four trustee candidates for running. “You have made my job easier for being here.”

Ferraris also thanked village clerk Sandra Schroeder, village department heads and village employees.

“These are not your typical municipal employees,” said Ferraris. “It just does not exist in other places.”


In other village news, Ferraris announced the village was close to reaching a deal with the Sag Harbor Yacht Club to create an additional seven parking spaces on a parcel next to the yacht club. The parking, in a space owned by the village, will be financed by the yacht club, which is seeking to replace gas tanks in the area and has recently received approvals to do so from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The project is expected to take place in the fall, said Ferraris.

A memorial fishing tournament has been proposed in honor of Sag Harbor resident and Marine, Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, a 2006 Pierson graduate who was killed last year in Ramadi, Iraq. Haerter died along with fellow Marine, Corporal Jonathon T. Yale as a result of stopping a suicide bomber from entering the territory, and in the process, saved the lives of 33 Marines, dozens of Iraqi soldiers and hundreds of Iraqi citizens.

The event has been proposed by Richard Flood and Douglas Herman and would be an annual tournament with proceeds benefiting veterans’ groups like the Wounded Warrior Project and Homes for Heroes.

The tournament would replace the flounder derby, a Sag Harbor tradition that ceased last year due to a lack of the target fish. The new tournament is proposed to be held the week after HarborFest, at the end of September, which Ferraris noted will also be beneficial for area businesses.

“It will draw people into the village, but it won’t take village resources,” said Ferraris, who added that the village would relax fees for anglers entering the tournament. “It is nice to see a fishing tournament return to Sag Harbor and the last week of September, it is a nice way to bring people back to the village.”

While a formal application has yet to be filed with the village board, members voiced support for the event as did police chief Fabiano.

Trustee Tiffany Scarlato announced the village would do its best to honor restaurants’ new rights under the adopted zoning code to enjoy outdoor seating in the village. Sag Harbor Building Inspector Tim Platt is expected to inform establishments in the coming week of their right to outdoor seating in an effort to streamline the process as the summer tourist season approaches. To qualify, restaurants must have a six-foot wide sidewalk and must cover the seating area with umbrellas or awnings approved by the village’s architectural review board. Twenty percent of a restaurant’s seating is allowed outside under the new code’s provisions.

Dogs Allowed At Havens

Dogs will be allowed back at Havens Beach, in the area south of the bathing area long utilized as a dog park by village residents. Ferraris said now that a majority of water quality testing was completed at Havens Beach, the village would permit dogs back in the area, although he reminded residents dogs are not permitted on the beach area and the village does have a leash law. He also asked superintendent of public works Jim Early to look into reinstalling a dog waste baggie system at the park.

While the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce was approved for their bevy of events throughout the year, from a summer concert series to HarborFest, police chief Fabiano asked the board to reevaluate the HarborFest parade which he said takes an enormous amount of manpower to cover in addition to HarborFest weekend as a whole. The board approved the chamber’s full request with the exception of the parade, which they said they would discuss at a future date.

“We keep doing all these events and events and events and it is costing more and more each year in overtime,” explained Fabiano.

Locals Outraged Over New MTA Tax

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“Isn’t this taxation without representation? I thought we already went through this,” said Sag Harbor Variety Store owner Lisa Field when asked what she thought of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new payroll tax.

The tax, signed into law earlier this month, will require local businesses, including hospitals, schools and governments, to pay a 34 cent tax for every $100 of payroll. Suffolk County is set to pump millions of dollars into the MTA to help shore up the authority’s $1.8 million deficit. From the halls of the state assembly to the sidewalks of Main Street, people are saying the MTA is unfairly taxing Suffolk County residents for a service they rarely use and the county is in essence funding the New York City transportation system.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele contends the MTA package was made “behind closed doors” with officials, hailing from the New York Metropolitan area, leading the negotiations.

Back in March, Thiele seemed certain the tax wouldn’t be voted through, but the state legislature indeed passed it on May 6, after state senator Brian Foley of Long Island swayed the vote, allowing the package to pass by two votes in the senate.

“Between March and now a lot of arm twisting went on,” explained Thiele.

“I thought we were pretty effective in putting up a unified decision,” stated Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman of the efforts made by local officials to oppose the payroll tax. “We have lost the power, and all of this money is leaving Long Island and going to New York City.”

Schneiderman maintains the East End is underserved by the MTA. Although the county contributed $250 million to the transit authority last year, the MTA currently runs just three trains on weekdays from the East End to New York City.

Geoff Lynch of the Hampton Jitney said the transit system works well in New York City because the authority services a small geographic area with a high density population. But on the East End, he added, a smaller population is spread out over a wide geographic area.

According to a press release from Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine, the county will pay around $520 million when the new MTA taxes and fees are enacted or about $347 per resident per year — on top of the taxes residents already pay toward the MTA. Schneiderman believes only 10 percent of Suffolk’s population, or 150,000 people, ride the LIRR.

“The county will pay around $3,000 to $4,000 per rider. We could lease each of them a car and we could forget about the trains,” argued Schneiderman.

When asked if East End residents will get more LIRR service in exchange for their contribution to the MTA payroll tax, Sam Zambuto of the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) said no.

“[The Payroll Tax] allows the LIRR to maintain the existing level of service and eliminates the service reductions that were slated for implementation,” Zambuto reported. “It also reduces the fare increase from an average of 26 percent to an average of 10 percent.”

MTA representative Kevin Ortiz said even with $1.8 billion in funds procured from the payroll tax and other fees, the MTA will still face a small deficit in the upcoming year. Ortiz argued that the new funds would bring additional wages to the county because the MTA uses the services of  subcontractors in Deer Park, and other Suffolk locations. He added the MTA’s capital plan would create $11.8 billion in wages and salaries in the 12 counties it services.

“They have to look at the big picture,” said Ortiz of Suffolk residents.

But local residents, from hospital administrators to business owners, say they are having a hard time seeing the “big picture.”

“Everybody that is in business out here will be subject to this new tax,” asserted Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris. He added that the tax will cost the village administration upwards of $10,000.

Southampton Hospital faces an even steeper tax burden because of its large payroll. Marsha Kenny, the director of public affairs, said the hospital had already closed its books for the 2009 budget when they learned of the tax. The hospital expects to pay $140,000 to the MTA this year.

Len Bernard, the Sag Harbor School District Business Manager, estimated the school will pay between $46,000 to $50,000 for the tax, though the state has promised to reimburse school districts.

“I am not at all confident the state will give funds to reimburse the school districts,” remarked school superintendent Dr. John Gratto. “I am concerned that if they do reimburse the school district for the tax it will come at the expense of general state aid.”

“I can point to every single line item on the budget and tell you how it benefits someone in the community, but I can’t with this,” continued Gratto. “We are just subsidizing New York City.”

Responding to the outrage of local communities over the payroll tax, the Suffolk County Legislature voted on Tuesday, May 12, to create a commission to conduct a feasibility study on Long Island seceding from the State of New York.

“We want it to be on the ballot next year as a non-binding referendum to create the State of Long Island,” said Schneiderman. “Every year we give the state about $8 billion but we only receive around $5 billion in services.”

Schneiderman conceded, however, that a state hasn’t successfully seceded since the 1860s, when West Virginia split from Virginia.

“I think this is more symbolic,” said Schneiderman. “We want to send a message to Albany that the present situation is unacceptable.”

Thiele believes Suffolk County constituents are feeling increasingly overburdened by state taxes, especially in light of the economic downturn.

“I have never seen a recession end by taxing people more,” he declared.

It may be that the MTA payroll tax will have a trickle down effect, with implications not just for business owners but patrons of Long Island restaurants and retail establishments as well.

“A lot of businesses in the area increase their prices in the summer and decrease their prices in the winter,” said Tora Matsuoka, co-owner of Sen and Phao Thai Kitchen. “Prior to finding out about this tax, [and a new beer and wine tax] my feelings were that we wouldn’t readjust our prices, but it is something we are considering … taxes in New York are stringent and I think it is driving people out of the state.”

Havens Beach Study to Continue Through Summer

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Havens Study Will Continue
By Marissa Maier

Members of the Stony Brook University research team, who have been testing for harmful levels of bacteria at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor for almost a year, say their work will continue through the summer. Chris Gobler, a Stony Brook Southampton associate professor and the director of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Program, has spearheaded the team with help from graduate and doctorate students, like Florian Koch.
Koch was on hand at a recent Coastal and Estuarine Research Program environmental symposium with a poster showing the testing data as of March 2009. The team, in conjunction with Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, has been studying the site since April 2008 and say the data they have collected is alarming.
“I think the data speaks for itself … The water quality in this area is being negatively affected, but this isn’t a new issue,” said McAllister. “Hopefully, this report will place a spotlight on Havens and be a call to action for the village and the harbor committee.”
According to data presented by Koch at the symposium, levels of harmful bacteria have exceeded healthy thresholds for bathing and shell fishing throughout the year. From April 2008 to early April 2009, testing from the receding water stations located in the bay showed bacteria levels were above adequate standards for shell fishing 31 percent of the time during testing and 44 percent of the time for bathing thresholds. These numbers pertain to results collected from three testing stations set-up in the water.
At three “source” stations — which consist of a ditch, a culvert leading to the beach and a steady stream of water flowing from the beach into the bay — levels were even higher. When averaging the whole year, the source station surpassed healthy standards 70 percent of the time for shell fishing and 60 percent of the time for bathing.
Because the source stations indicated more frequent high bacterium levels than the receding water stations, Gobler said his team studied the source stations to ascertain where the bacterium was coming from. That research is ongoing.
Koch and his fellow researchers tested the beach on a monthly to bi-monthly basis, but did responsive testing after heavy rainfalls. The ditch, or the first “source” station, collects storm water run-off for a 275-acre area, said McAllister, through a complicated network of piping. According to McAllister, the water collected at the ditch, seeking the lowest elevation, then flows into Havens Beach by way of the culvert. Gobler added that it is possible the ditch is also subject to ground water seepage.
As the Stony Brook team has been conducting their research, Suffolk County has been testing the waters of Havens Beach.
“By law, the county tests Havens and all other beaches on a weekly basis,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor, Greg Ferraris. “Suffolk County has never issued a directive to close the beach.”
McAllister said the discrepancy between the county’s and Stony Brook’s results could be attributed to the Stony Brook team’s responsive testing after heavy rainfall. He noted that contaminates are more likely to flow into the ditch when it rains, but in drier weather are likely to stay put.
Village planner Richard Warren, who also operates an environmental consulting firm, said the discrepancy could also be attributed to different testing methodologies. He added that he would like to sit down and review side by side the county’s results and the Stony Brook results, with the help of Chris Gobler.
“With Kevin [McAllister] and Chris [Gobler], I hope we can set aside a testing protocol and start having a dialogue,” said Warren.
Village officials said they weren’t contacted before the yearly results were presented at the symposium and felt this went against a communications protocol established by both parties.
“We expected once the testing was complete to meet and discuss the findings,” Ferraris noted. “[We hope] to review the data and come up with a plan of action.”
Although the Stony Brook team planned to test for only a year, Koch said they would continue through the summer with no fixed end point in mind. Gobler added that the team believes it is important to continue monitoring the site and he also wishes to set up testing sites to the east and west of the beach.
McAllister noted that beyond testing, actual measures would need to be implemented in the future.
“Havens Beach and this ditch is a problem,” he said. “But developing this data will hopefully lead to a remediation project. It is going to cost money to deal with this and I recognize the challenges the village is facing. Are they going to be able to finance a project that is going to eliminate this pollution problem?”

Mayor Ferraris Reveals Himself

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By Richard Gambino

On April 2, The Express ran a front page story about a judge dismissing a suit against Mayor Greg Ferraris’ government by the environmental organization, The Group for the East End. The judge dismissed the case solely on a technicality. As stated by this newspaper, the technicality was that “the Group’s attorney, James Periconi, failed to name developers Sag Development Partners in the lawsuit.” And that technicality is all of the judge’s reason. As also pointed out, no judge or court has heard the merits of the Group’s suit, or the Village’s defense against it. Given all this, the response of Mayor Greg Ferraris is worthy of a skit on Saturday Night Live. Except, according to this paper, his statements are no parody — he really said them. Really.

The suit was about the Bulova condo project, which was approved by Sag Harbor’s Village Hall, without the Village requiring from the condo developer a Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the project as required by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Law.      Specifically, there are two issues. First, Mayor Ferraris and company approved a plan to truck thirty thousand cubic yards of potentially toxic soil on 3,750 large trucks past countless houses, schools and other buildings in, and far beyond, Sag Harbor. Second, the Village waived the legal requirement that the developers include in their condo thirteen units of affordable housing. Instead, the town fathers and mothers decided that the developers be allowed to contribute $2.5 million, or about $192,300 per unit, which, even in this time of economic recession, would not come close to buying a single dwelling in Sag Harbor.

The Express quoted the Chairman of the Planning Board, Neil Slevin, about the Village’s process in blessing the Bulova condo. He compared it to the board’s current process of reviewing the proposal for yet another huge condo complex, one called “Ferry Road.” He noted that with regard to the Ferry Road condo proposal, in the words of the article, his “planning board has asked for an impact statement and is engaged in the very process Samuelson advocates.” (Referring to Jeremy Samuelson, an officer of The Group for the East End.) Slevin’s logic here is stunning, and all too typical of Ferraris and company: We are asking for the New York State-required environmental impact statement for the large Ferry Road condo, therefore we were justified in not asking for such a statement regarding the even larger Bulova condo.   

But let’s go to Mayor Ferraris’ own dazzling statements, giving them the seriatim attention they deserve. Please, again, keep in mind this is not a parody. According to this newspaper, Mayor Ferraris actually said all the quotations of him that follow:


 “ ‘I am pleased with the court’s decision; however it feels like a hollow victory as the Bulova factory once again sits dormant due to the financial crisis,’ said the Mayor.”


Meaning that the developers may not have the money to build the condo during the current economic downturn. But fortunately for them they have Ferraris fighting for them, great advocate for condos that he is. After all, isn’t this what the voters elected Ferraris to do, be the  developers’ darling of the East End? No small accomplishment given that the South Fork’s governments are made up largely of developers and realtors, by developers and realtors and for developers and realtors. But with their Mayor Greg, developers have been truly and exceptionally blessed. Other governments out here have been content merely to approve endless McMansions. But their beloved Greg is determined to cover Sag Harbor with condo complexes.


 “ ‘I really question the motive and the direction of the management of the Group for the East End,’  continued Mayor Ferraris,  ‘who have morphed from an environmental advocacy group into a lobbyist organization engaging in social and economic issues outside their league. It is unfortunate that the village needs to expend tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money defending itself against these types of baseless claims and I can only hope that village residents recall this when funding these organizations.’” 


Spending “tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money” defending his right not to file a NYS-required environmental impact statement — how bravely responsible of our wise Mayor. The Group is a “lobbyist organization?” For whom? The sneaky local plants and wildlife? Our lands and waters, with their vile lust to remain healthy? Healthy for us, our children and grandchildren. Why, those people in The Group know no end to their inordinate moxie, chutzpah and nerve!

Unable to defend his indefensible decisions by reasoned argument, Ferraris  resorts to attacking the “motive” of The Group. Speaking of motives, Mr. Ferraris, what’s your motive for bypassing NY State Law? Oh yes, the in-house report you did on your own, including the plan for thousands of trucks full of potentially toxic soil. Why not just resolve this issue by asking the Bulova developers for the NYS-required environmental impact statement? What would be the harm of two studies? And now that you’ve opened the question of motives, what’s your motive for spending “tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money” to keep from doing this?    

Three thousand, seven hundred and fifty large trucks carrying thirty thousand cubic yards of potentially toxic soil past our homes and schools, not to mention countless homes and public institutions beyond Sag Harbor. Somehow Mr. Ferraris never mentions this. How noble of the Mayor to allow this, and then to spend “tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money” to insist on it.  And let’s not think of the cost the Village might have in defending against suits if there is even so much as a single mishap in which just one of those trucks spills potentially toxic soil onto a street lined by houses, or near a school or shopping center. And the cost in possibly losing against the suits. Mr. Mayor, don’t trouble you head about it, full as it is with “social and economic issues outside the league” of the rest of us.

Yes sir and madam, the next time your darker angels urge you to send a contribution to a local environmental organization, resist the temptation and send your check to the  Public Defense of Greg Ferraris Fund. But, then, he already has your money for this. Sorry.

A few weeks ago, Greg Ferraris was quoted in this newspaper as saying he would not run for re-election as mayor. Promises, promises. Whether he does or not, here’s hoping against hope that a candidate for the office steps forward who is dedicated to ending Sag Harbor’s Village Hall bending over backwards, sideways, and let’s not forget, forward, for condos. Even to the point of spending “tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money” possibly to put a huge population at risk. Before it’s too late.


RICHARD GAMBINO urges all to contribute generously to The Group for the East End (P.O. Box 569, Bridgehampton, NY 11932 ), and urges The Group to appeal the judge’s decision, as it has said it might. He has never served on the Group’s Board or committees.

Sag Harbor Adopts $8 Million Budget

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Residents in the Village of Sag Harbor will see a slight tax rate decrease this year – from .002605 to .002602 – although during a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting last Friday, Mayor Greg Ferraris warned board members this kind of budget would not be sustainable in years to come.

On Friday, April 3 trustees unanimously adopted the total $8,091,169 spending plan, $7,523,715 of which is the operating budget for the village’s 2009-2010 fiscal year. The remaining $567,454 makes up the village sewer fund.

According to Ferraris, the average homeowner will see a $3 to $4 decrease in their taxes as a result.

 The budget was adopted in front of a handful of people – department heads, press and a lone village resident, Larry Perrine, who serves as a member of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato noted in an election year that is predicted to have the first contested mayoral and trustee races in years, she found it “curious” that more members of the public, especially those interested in having a hand in government, failed to attend the work session.

Unlike Scarlato, on Monday Ferraris said the lack of interest in the budget process was not surprising, although disappointing given the current economic climate.

“In the past six years in preparing the budget I can count on one hand the number of members of the public who have attended the budget hearings and have commented,” he said. “I would hope that in these times the public would be interested and vocal in this matter.”

The dire economic climate was a theme of discussion during the board work session.

“I think what we tried to do here from the beginning was limit spending,” said Ferraris, crediting department heads across the board for making appropriate cuts to enable the tax rate decrease.

“You’re the ones who really did it,” said Ferraris, joking the village does not have a reserve bank it can seek “half a trillion dollars” from in economic stimulus.

“I think we all realize that we are taxpayers too … I think we all have a vested interest in how we do things here,” he added.

“This is the end of an effort by a lot of people going into a tough year to attempt to hold the line and provide the same services and hope things get better,” said Gilbride. 

However, Ferraris noted that this kind of budget is not one sustainable in the future, and said the trustees will have a difficult task assembling next year’s budget

“What’s going to happen next year,” wondered Perrine from the audience.

“That remains to be seen,” replied Ferraris, who said he believes the village has provided a spending plan that will cover costs, without having to dip into its “healthy” reserve fund. While services are being maintained this year, he said, they will by no means be enhanced in an effort to control spending during difficult financial times.

“I think public service on a whole, on all levels, should be reduced,” offered Ferraris. “Spending on all government levels should be reduced.”

Sag Harbor Police Officer Resigns After Arrest

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Sag Harbor Village Police Lieutenant Thomas X. Mackey, a 23-year veteran, resigned from the force last week following charges leveled against him Friday for harassment in the second degree, a violation. The charges stem from an alleged domestic dispute with his ex-wife on the afternoon of Thursday, April 2, when the officer went to his ex-wife’s house to see his children. His ex-wife is a former Sag Harbor police officer.

Sag Harbor Village police responded and filed a report; but, according to village policy, Police Chief Thomas Fabiano turned the investigation over to New York State Police, since the incident involved a village officer, said Mayor Greg Ferraris, who is also the village’s police commissioner.

According to various sources, both Mackey and his ex-wife agreed not to pursue charges in the Thursday incident. After an interview with state police again on Friday, however, Mackey’s ex-wife apparently changed her mind.

Mackey, who maintains his ex-wife should have been charged in the incident, was issued a summons, answerable in East Hampton Town Court on May 20, and a restraining order on Friday. Later that day he tendered his resignation.

A few days later, on Sunday, April 5, Mackey allegedly violated the order of protection filed by his ex-wife. The following day, Monday, Mackey turned himself into state police at their Riverside location and was subsequently charged with criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor.

“There are two sides to every story,” said Mackey’s attorney, Edward Burke, Jr. of Sag Harbor. “He feels he should be in the role of complaining witness.”

“Mr. Mackey is well respected in the community and adamantly denies these charges,” said Burke, “and looks forward to having them dismissed in court.”

“This is a big loss to the village,” said Ferraris, “he was a leader.”

Mackey was the second highest in command behind Chief Fabiano.

“We’re in full support of Tom and his family as they work through this,” said Ferraris.

A decision to replace Mackey will be made when Chief Fabiano returns from vacation, said Ferraris.

Looks Like Three for Mayor

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With June elections fast approaching, it’s shaping up to be an interesting campaign season as three prospective candidates have tentatively announced their candidacy for the position of Sag Harbor Village Mayor so far. Current mayor Greg Ferraris, whose term is up in June, told The Express in early February he wouldn’t seek re-election. Also up this June are two village trustee seats, including Ed Deyermond’s position. He, too, said he would not seek re-election. Ed Gregory, who holds the other available trustee seat, is undecided.

 According to Ferraris, one of the chief reasons for his decision to not run again was the amount of time he needed to devote to his mayoral responsibilities while also running an accounting business in recent years.

 “The demands on the position have increased over the three years I have been here, and well over the six years that I have served on the village board,” said Ferraris in February. “[Village] issues have become more complex. The demands on the village board from residents have increased.”

 With the mayoral position up for grabs, the village board might witness a little reshuffling as two Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustee members, Tiffany Scarlato and Brian Gilbride, have announced their intentions to run for mayor — although Gilbride says he hasn’t yet made a formal decision. Also throwing his hat into the ring is Jim Henry, a Sag Harbor attorney, author, business consultant and a 2007 Democratic candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor who recently picked up a petition from village hall and has expressed his intention to run for mayor.

 Scarlato has been on the board of trustees for almost six years, and is serving her third term on the board. Scarlato reported that when she first heard Ferraris would not run again, she “begged” him to reconsider, though he remained steadfast in his decision.

 “After I finished begging him, I decided it was a possibility [for me to run for mayor,]” said Scarlato.

 Currently, Scarlato is an assistant town attorney for East Hampton, though she added she doesn’t believe this will present a conflict of interest should she be elected mayor. Prior to becoming a village trustee, Scarlato said she conducted extensive research to make sure her two positions wouldn’t conflict. Of her interest in becoming mayor, Scarlato added that she has the energy to tackle the position, and ample experience in village affairs. Scarlato was also one of the main village officials who pushed to update the current village zoning code.

 Among the chief concerns for the next mayor, Scarlato said the village budget would be at the top of her priority list should she be elected.

 “I think the biggest issue [for the village right now] is fiscal responsibility,” said Scarlato. “I would focus most of my attention on that. The board as a whole has done a good job to pare down the budget and be as fiscally responsible as possible, but it has to be kept up.”

 Also considering a mayoral run is Sag Harbor Village Trustee Brian Gilbride who has been a mainstay on the village board for the past 15 years, and served as deputy mayor for nearly four years.

 “I am still thinking through it, but I am leaning towards saying yes,” said Gilbride of his mayoral candidacy.

 Aside from being a trustee, Gilbride has worked for the village in many different capacities. In 1966, he was hired by the village as an employee of the highway department, which led to a position with the maintenance department. Previously, Gilbride also served as the chief of the village fire department. He feels that his relationship with the village will help him, if he were to become mayor.

 “I worked with a lot of good people [in the village],” he said. “I have an understanding of how the village works, and I look forward to help continuing the way things are going now.”

 Seven years ago, Gilbride left a position with Norsic, the sanitation services company based on Long Island. As a retiree, Gilbride reports he isn’t “the least bit worried” about the amount of hours the village mayor puts into the position. Of the challenges facing the mayor, however, Gilbride reiterated Scarlato’s belief that fiscal and budgetary issues will be the chief issues the village will face in the coming year.

 “Hopefully the zoning code will be put to bed … Things are a little tough with the economy, but we [the village] are very conservative and started planning a year ago,” said Gilbride.

 Although the other prospective candidate, Jim Henry, hasn’t served on the village board, he has run for town office (Henry lost the 2007 supervisor’s race Linda Kabot), and also has business and economic experience. Henry created the Sag Harbor Group, a consulting firm for technology-based businesses. As an author, Henry has written investigative books on economical mismanagement and also pieces for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Nation, among others. 

 No candidates have stepped forward yet for the two trustee seats.

 In Sag Harbor, prospective mayoral and trustee candidates are permitted to submit signed petitions beginning March 31. The elections will be held on June 16.

 Over the bridge, two North Haven Village trustee seats will be open for election in June. The trustees currently holding the positions are Jeff Sander, a Main Street building owner, and Jim Smyth, the owner of The Corner Bar. In addition, two seats on the Sagaponack Village board will also be up for grabs come June. These seats are currently occupied by Alfred Kelman and Joy Seiger. No candidates have yet come forward to announce their intention to run for the positions in either village.

Above: Photos of Trustee Scarlato, Trustee Gilbride and Jim Henry. 

Stimulus Package May Help at Home

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The ink is not yet dry on the stimulus package, but local municipalities may see federal money flowing into their coffers very soon. According to Congressman Tim Bishop, Long Island will receive around $200 million — over a two year period — in transportation development projects, but nearly half of the money allocated for highway construction must be spent within 90 days. Bishop added these funds will be distributed to local municipalities by the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Committees. Municipalities will apply for the money as if they were applying for a grant. These transportation projects will most likely create close to 8,000 jobs.
Bishop added many of the budgetary cuts made by New York State Governor David Paterson, especially in the education sector, will be offset by money from the state stabilization fund. Overall, Paterson cut almost $800 million from state education budgets. The Sag Harbor School district’s budget will be cut by almost $186,000.
“Without the state stabilization fund [these schools] would be forced to lay thousands of people off or would be forced to raise property taxes, and many people can’t afford higher property taxes,” reported Bishop.
Bishop remains confident the Sag Harbor school district will be granted additional funds to shore up this budgetary loss. He reported $195,000 is already earmarked for the district.
At a local level, Bishop said Suffolk County — an area which relies heavily on the construction industry and real estate sales — will benefit from a neighborhood stabilization fund and real estate tax breaks. The neighborhood stabilization fund allows local municipalities to purchase foreclosed or abandoned properties. Bishop asserts that construction workers will then be hired to rehabilitate these buildings. These properties will be available as workforce housing rentals, after construction is complete, he believes.
In addition, first time real estate buyers will be given a tax credit of nearly $8,000, though there is an income contingency to be eligible for this tax break. Bishop added that $30 million will be used to construct a new laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is part of Stony Brook University.
Bishop said a recent halt in construction projects on the East End has had a trickle down effect throughout many businesses in the community. “Behind every economic statistic there is a story … The builders had to lay off their crew. Now the deli owners are selling fewer sandwiches because these workers were laid off … Real estate agents haven’t made a sale in months, which affects lawyers who depend upon real estate closings … Everywhere you look, [the recession] has an impact.”
Nearly 95-percent of American families will also be given a tax break, which will include tens of thousands of families on Long Island, added Bishop.
Bishop said the main stimulus package is broken up into three main objectives: to keep money in the hands of people who need it and will spend it, to provide assistance to the states so they won’t be forced to lay off employees or reduce services, and, finally, to create numerous service projects.
Bishop believes these goals will help encourage consumer spending. He added that spending and lending are the cruxes of the American economy.
“People have simple stopped spending,” reported Bishop. “We need to put money back into the hands of people who need it.”
It is still unclear by what channels the funds will be distributed throughout the government, or how much money will be designated for Sag Harbor and the surrounding towns. Bishop expects to have answers to these questions within the coming weeks or months.
Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris remains “cautiously optimistic” the village will receive funding for infrastructure projects, such as the safe routes to school project and the reconstruction of the fence at the old burial ground. He expects, however, most of the federal funding will be used for infrastructure and education, and very little will trickle down to offset the operating costs of the village. For now, Ferraris added, the village will continue to operate on an austerity basis.
david pater