Tag Archive | "Robby Stein"

In Sag Harbor, A Priority of Public Projects for 2014

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By Kathryn G. Menu

In its last meeting for 2013, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees met in special session Thursday afternoon to talk about a list of village projects that are coming into focus for 2014.

Repairs to Long Wharf, upgrading the Municipal Building with an elevator that would allow access to the long-vacant third and fourth floors of that Main Street building, and constructing a helipad at Havens Beach for emergency service use were three projects village board members debated Thursday.

At the close of the session, board members passed a resolution to get estimates on the cost of all three projects.

While board members agreed all three projects were worth looking at, at the start of the session, with just Mayor Brian Gilbride, Trustee Ken O’Donnell and Trustee Robby Stein in attendance, there was division on how a project like Long Wharf — a project that likely comes with a hefty price tag — should be funded.

“My feeling is we should bond it and do it all at once,” said O’Donnell.

Stein agreed, noting that village treasurer Eileen Tuohy has advised trustees interest rates are historically low, making it desirable to bond for a project of this size.

And sizable it will likely be.

While the village board will now await an updated survey detailing the repair and maintenance needs of Long Wharf, it has been several years since anything outside of annual maintenance performed by village crews has been completed on the aging facility.

In 2010, part of the impetus for Suffolk County to look to Sag Harbor Village as a means of ridding itself of ownership of Long Wharf was a report from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, outlining over $600,000 in immediate repairs necessary to keep the wharf in working order. While the transfer of Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village — an over two-year process — did go through, neither the county nor the village ever completed that list of repairs.

In March of this year, village engineer Paul Grosser compiled a schedule of repairs over a 10-year period. The village board discussed funding those repairs — at a total cost of $1 million — with $100,000 annually earmarked annually. Last month, Tuohy suggested it might be fiscally prudent to consider bonding instead.

Gilbride, who has staunchly opposed bonding for the repairs, noted the reserve repair fund has $1.2 million and while the village has paid for the Havens Beach remediation, it is expecting close to $300,000 back from the county and the state for that water quality project.

“I think we have to get a closer handle on what Long Wharf needs,” said Gilbride.

Stein agreed.

“Once we know about the cost, then we should talk about how to pay for it,” he said. “I am not so worried about bonding. I just don’t want to do piecemeal for this project.”

A longtime goal of Gilbride has been to see the village open up the third and fourth floors of the Municipal Building through the construction of an elevator. The village currently has a lift, which provides access from the first to the second floor including the meeting room, building department and justice court for the disabled. However, noted Gilbride, that lift has begun to falter and rather than replace it, he would like the board to consider installing an elevator that would enable the village to make use of the third floor for office space and the fourth floor for storage.

“It’s a key element to getting into the third floor and moving the building department up there,” he said, noting making the fourth floor usable in terms of office space is a larger — and pricier — challenge than he would like to take on this coming year.

According to Gilbride, installing an elevator would cost the village about $165,000.

A 2012 report detailing the cost of Municipal Building repairs and upgrades, including the elevator, estimated $1.8 million in funding would be necessary, which would include sprinkler system for the third floor and the extension of fire escapes to all floors in the building.

On Thursday, the board agreed to look into the cost of just installing the elevator, sprinkler system, and fire escapes — all necessary if the village wants to legally do business on the third floor.

The board also signed off, with little debate, on having an estimate drawn up for the creation of a helipad on Havens Beach. The helipad would specifically be for emergency service providers to use in the instance where a medevac is required out of Sag Harbor.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for January 14 at 6 p.m.

Effort Mounted to Encourage Local Volunteers

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Just as President Barack Obama has called on the American people to help ease the effects of an economic downturn and better the nation by volunteering for community organizations and not-for-profits, so to are a group of local organizations, banding together to increase awareness, and hopefully membership among their own ranks.

In October, artist and community activist April Gornik joined forces with Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein in an effort to bring the leaders of over a dozen community based service organizations – dedicated to conservation, public health, the environment, youth services and historic preservation and community awareness – together to talk about their goals, and more importantly, what their needs are.

“It really came down to people needing time and talent,” said Gornik on Monday. In addition to a desire to simply increase the number of volunteers in each organization, many are also looking to branch out, reach younger audiences in the community and upgrade the information services they provide to the Sag Harbor area and beyond.

“I think people are really busy keeping afloat right now,” said Gornik. “We want to let people know that there are a lot of ways to help a lot of organizations, whether you are a graphic artist who can help design a webpage or someone willing to lick stamps.”

To that end, Gornik and Stein worked with local groups to begin outreach, starting with an advertising campaign designed simply to let people know what groups are out there. The initiative also includes plans for a recruitment fair at Pierson High School, where they hope to have a volunteers table, as well as taking advantage of the September HarborFest celebration.

“We would really like a volunteer presence there,” said Gornik. “So while people are eating their lobster rolls they can think about some of the things they can do to pitch in.”

Stein’s involvement aligns community groups with village government, opening the door, Gornik hopes, for more opportunities for local government to work with local organizations.

“Now we have more of an opportunity to work together as an open village; and not just with Robby, but the whole village board,” said Gornik. “We have a really good roster up there.”

Sandra Ferguson, President of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (FLPG), credited the people of Sag Harbor as one of the more involved group of residents on the East End, but noted even with a dedicated core group of volunteers, the FLPG are in constant need of volunteers willing to work outdoors towards the betterment of the greenbelt.

“We actually think it is great fun,” she said.

The FLPG was established in 1997 and works in an all-volunteer capacity towards the preservation and stewardship of the Long Pond Greenbelt, located in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton. Volunteers are needed for habitat restoration, web and print publications, educational projects, trail and roadside clean-ups, community outreach and events planning.

In particular, said Ferguson, the FLPG would love to secure a volunteer with Internet expertise, noting the leadership of the organization is not quite web savvy.

One of the group’s most recent projects, and one Ferguson is particularly proud of, is a 30-acre grassland restoration the group is completing behind the South Fork Natural History Museum.

“It is a wonderful project that can involve all ages,” she said.

Ultimately, she said volunteering brings with it a sense of fulfillment not found in other aspects of ones life.

“In the long run, it is extremely fulfilling to be involved with something that is outside of our own personal set of goals and needs,” she said. “You will have a return on your investment of time and energy.”

Ed Downes, President of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corp., has found that fulfillment in his work providing emergency medical services to the community. The squad currently has 32 members, and Downes said it can use more help.

“We will take anyone willing to learn,” he said, noting it takes 150 hours to certify as an EMT and eight hours to learn CPR, plus additional in-house training.

“It’s non-stop,” said Downes, adding the squad does in-house training at least twice a month, and ultimately being an active member is a commitment of about seven to eight hours a week.

“We have a retirement program and for every 50 emergency calls we give you a free tank of gas,” said Downes. “Those are the big incentives we offer to try and keep our membership up.”

As with most organizations, the hardest part for most people, said Downes, is the time commitment. The squad is particularly in need of people willing to work between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. – a difficult time to find volunteers, he said, as most people are working and picking their kids up from school. But, he added, it is fulfilling knowing you are performing an important — and critical — service for the community.

Debbie Skinner’s Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD), a not for profit, free recreation program for the children of Sag Harbor, is also in need of volunteers – students and parents alike.

“One, I need students to volunteer their time to be on the youth advisory board so they can tell us what kids would like to have, what programs, what trips, what is cool, what is not cool,” said Skinner. “Then we can give them what they want.”

Skinner said she likes to recruit a dozen students for that board, from grades eight through 11, to attend the two-hour monthly meeting, the only requirement.

“And it is wonderful for your transcript,” she added.

Parents are also crucial to YARD’s success, whether by serving on the board of directors or volunteering their time to chaperone events like this month’s winter trip to a skating rink in Hauppague.

 “Sag Harbor is wonderful in terms of the way parents chip in and volunteer,” continued Skinner. “I think a lot of parents tend to volunteer with the sports a lot, but this will bring light to other ways people can serve and share their skills.”

See the back page of this week’s issue of The Sag Harbor Express for a list of local volunteer organizations.

Gilbride Takes Office, Appoints Stein and Makes Changes

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During his first meeting as mayor of the Village of Sag Harbor on Monday, Brian Gilbride announced appointments to the various village boards, including the addition of former mayor Greg Ferraris to the planning board.

Gilbride named Bethany Deyermond, a member of the Sag Harbor Historical Society and wife of former mayor and trustee Ed Deyermond, to the village historic preservation and architectural review board in place of longtime board member Robert Tortora. Gilbride also tapped Gail Pickering to lead the village’s zoning board of appeals. Pickering replaces board chairman Michael Bromberg, who said this week he intends to fulfill the remainder of his one-year term on the board.

Gilbride, an incumbent trustee, was elected to lead the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees in June besting both Bromberg and local attorney and author Jim Henry in a contentious mayoral battle.

gilbride Tim Culver, a land use and real estate attorney, received the most votes of any candidate in his bid for a seat on the board of trustees. Culver and incumbent trustee Ed Gregory were also sworn in on Monday, along with Robby Stein, who Gilbride appointed to serve the remainder of his one-year trustee term on the board. Stein placed third in the election behind Culver and Gregory, with Sag Harbor native and real estate agent Jane Holden finishing fourth.

Gilbride, who served as village deputy mayor under Ferraris, named Trustee Tiffany Scarlato as his new deputy mayor on Monday.

 Even so many changes, much will remain the same with Sag Harbor Village government, with Gilbride having appointed Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Anthony Tohill as village council, Richard Warren as environmental planner and Paul Grosser as village engineer. However, with the appointment of Ferraris, Deyermond and Pickering to new posts in village government, Gilbride said he was pleased to see the new face of the village boards.

Ann Hansen, a 15-year veteran of the planning board, resigned last month leaving an opening for Ferraris who chose not to seek re-election in the last mayoral race.

“There is a lot of activity on that board now,” said Gilbride on Tuesday, noting the planning board has been contending with a number of large-scale development applications and will be facing the implementation of a new village code. “Greg wanted to stay involved and he has been instrumental in a lot of what has been going on in the village.”

“I have a great respect of the members of the planning board, and in Neil Slevin’s leadership as chairman,” said Ferraris on Tuesday. “Brian asked me and I feel it is a great opportunity to work with this board on the new code.”

Ferraris said he intends to bring the same “case-by-case” attitude to his position on the planning board as he did as mayor of Sag Harbor.

“I don’t have a predetermined agenda going into this, but I do think the new code will speak for itself and shape the way we deal with development in this village,” he said.

Gilbride’s appointment of Bethany Deyermond to the ARB means longtime member Tortora will no longer have a seat on the board, although Gilbride on Tuesday thanked Tortora for his service, saying it was time for that board to take a new direction under his administration.

“I personally thanked Bob for his service and I think he has done a good job,” Gilbride said. “I am just looking to move in a slightly different direction. I think Bethany can do that. She will work well with the board, she has experience as a member of the historical society and the Sag Harbor Ladies Village Improvement Society and she has done a great job restoring her own home.”

Tortora was disappointed at Gilbride’s choice, lamenting that he would not be a part of a board whose mission he treasures.

“I thought I was pretty darn good at it,” he said. “I really thought I did my best for the village and worked hard to make a difference.”

The local contractor, who said he has invested his professional life into ensuring Sag Harbor’s historic architecture is preserved, questioned why he was removed from the board and said he would still weigh his options. He hopes to stay involved with the cause he holds so close to his heart.

“It is my livelihood to preserve this village,” he said. “I moved here and invested in this place because it is so unique. My only recourse now is to ensure I can stay involved.”

Gilbride also replaced Bromberg as chairman of the zoning board with current board member Pickering, although Bromberg, unlike Tortora, will fulfill the remainder of his one-year term on the zoning board.

“I believe she is an independent thinker and has always done a great job for the village,” Gilbride said of the appointment. “I think Gail brings a level of expertise we need right now.”

“I think Gail will do a great job,” Bromberg said on Tuesday, who added he had no intention of stepping down from the board as of now.

Pickering, who was on the village planning board from 1990 to 1999, serving as chairman from 1995 to 1999, went on to serve on the East Hampton Town’s planning board from 2000 through 2006 before returning to Sag Harbor to serve on the zoning board of appeals.

“I knew Bulova was coming and I wanted input on the big projects,” said the licensed architect on Tuesday, referring to the now approved luxury condo project at the historic Bulova Watchcase Factory in the center of the village.

“I am honored to be appointed to the position,” she added. “I have enjoyed working with the current board and I appreciate all the comments input and expertise my fellow board members have to offer. The mayor has made his decision and I appreciate his confidence in me.”

Outside of the zoning board of appeals, the chairmanship of every other village board remains the same with Neil Slevin tapped to continue his position as head of the planning board, Cee Scott Brown appointed to lead the ARB and Bruce Tait appointed to helm the Harbor Committee.

Gilbride Will Name Stein to Village Board

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web robbystein

Sag Harbor mayor-elect Brian Gilbride announced on Tuesday he intends to appoint child psychologist Dr. Robby Stein to fill his now vacant seat on the village’s board of trustees. The appointment will be made official at the board’s re-organizational meeting on Monday, July 6 at noon when Stein will join trustee elects Ed Gregory and Tim Culver, as well as Gilbride, in an official swearing in ceremony.

Stein placed third in a four-way trustee race for two seats on the board last week, one of several reasons Gilbride said on Tuesday he reached out to Stein to fill the position.

“The couple of times we all got together — the mayoral candidates and the board candidates — Robby came up with some decent ideas on how to help out our seniors and our residents,” said Gilbride. “After the election, I talked to him and said I think this is a good opportunity to put some of your ideas into practice.”

After discussing the idea with the remainder of the board, in particular trustee Tiffany Scarlato, who Gilbride intends to name his deputy mayor, the board agreed as a whole Stein was the best candidate for appointment, said Gilbride.

“We’re going to be a really comfortable group that works really well together,” said Gilbride.

Stein, 61, has lived and worked in Sag Harbor since the early 1980s when he began a counseling center in the village. He has lived in Sag Harbor full-time since 2001, and most recently served on the board of the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor, although since announcing his candidacy he stepped down from that position.

During his tenure on the board of Save Sag Harbor, Stein worked as a consensus builder between the not-for-profit and the business community in an effort to provide support for a new zoning code for the village business district in Sag Harbor, aimed at addressing development pressures in the village.

Outside of the continued revision of the zoning code, which will now begin to focus on the residential district of the village, Stein said on Wednesday he hopes to begin his tenure on the board focusing on human and health services.

“There are things I want to immediately get into, one being to really explore how the village’s website is managed and put together,” said Stein. He envisions a more comprehensive website, providing residents with a wealth of information, and would like to try and form a partnership with students interested in technology in the Sag Harbor School District to see that vision become a reality.

Providing educational resources for seniors on health care options and home care services offered by the county is another initiative Stein would like to take on in the next year.

“I want to really inform people about what is out there,” said Stein. “These are no cost options. It doesn’t cost anything to post something.”

Four Trustee Candidates Find Common Ground

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The four candidates seeking two seats on the Village of Sag Harbor Board of Trustees have varied backgrounds and professional experience — an attorney, a real estate agent, a child psychologist and a board veteran with well over a decade of government experience under his belt.

Ed Gregory

Despite their professional differences, the candidates came together for a group interview on Friday, and appeared to find common ground on issues they believe the village will face in coming years, engaging in an easygoing back-and-forth debate about the future of Sag Harbor.

Robby Stein, a child psychologist and board member for the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor, believes he brings to the table his willingness to serve the village, not only as a board member, but also as a resident involved in a number of local organizations. A background in human services, and informational technology are other strengths Stein said would serve him well.

Jane Holden

“Some of the things I think are different than what has already been done in the village is I have an awareness of health services, which I think is important,” said Stein. “I think it’s important that we get information out there.”

“I have been a zoning and real estate attorney for 15 years,” said Tim Culver, who helped members of the village’s business community review the village’s newly adopted zoning code while it was being revised.

Culver said the technical knowledge that comes with his background would be an asset to the community. Additionally, his ability to facilitate dialogue would be another resource he could draw upon. Culver said his experience building a billion-dollar business would also be an asset.

Tim Culver

“Part of government is spending money and knowing how to spend it wisely,” he said.

Incumbent trustee Ed Gregory brings 20 years experience as a board member to the table, having served on the board for close to 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s before taking his seat back on the board in 2003.

“To be honest with you, I have simple aspirations,” said Gregory. “I don’t think in these economic times we can have big plans to do big things.”

In addition to seeking a grant to repair the fence at the Old Burial Ground, Gregory said he would like to see a waterfront walkway in the village completed, as well as an initiative to make the various municipal buildings more sustainable through implementing the results of a Long Island Power Authority energy audit completed last year.

Robby Stein

“I work well with others, otherwise I wouldn’t be here for 20 years,” said Gregory.

Real estate agent Jane Holden is a lifelong resident of Sag Harbor, having worked in the village as a real estate agent for 29 years.

She said her background as a paralegal and an appraiser would aid the village should she be elected to the board, particularly on the affordable housing front.

“I also realize what it takes to get people into homes,” she said. “Real estate to me is solving a public need, and I think I can bring something very positive to this board.”

Holden added her experience with National Grid as a member of the board of the nearby Harbor Close Condominiums will be an asset as the village continues a working relationship with the utility over a recently completed remediation project on Long Island Avenue.

Most notably the revision of the village’s zoning code for the commercial portion of Sag Harbor has been a focus of the board of trustees as of late. Part of the impetus for that work was insuring a vibrant business district could be maintained in the village.

“We need to listen to what the business people have to say,” said Holden.

While Culver said he is not sure he agrees entirely with the newly adopted code, he said the village has done a good job in bringing all stakeholders together in an effort to find some sort of consensus.

“I think the vision is for a vibrant, retail space,” said Culver, adding finding a way to keep businesses in Sag Harbor unique – with possibly a focus on art or the environment – could be a way to ensure the business district remains vital.

Gregory countered he was unsure it was government’s role to dictate what should encompass Sag Harbor’s downtown, but agreed the village was unique and that is what makes it special.

“Our role was to pass an updated zoning code that gives the business owners some focus as to what we would like to see in the village,” said Gregory, adding the village has done its best to try and protect existing businesses by legislating a code that will discourage big box stores from coming into the village.

“I think what the zoning code has attempted to do is expedite the process for the village businesses,” said Stein.

 “I think everyone here agrees we do not want to dictate what businesses are here, but we want to give businesses an opportunity to thrive here,” said Stein later, much to the agreement of all four candidates.

Affordable housing is also at the forefront of all four candidate’s minds, with downtown Sag Harbor continuing to be a place too expensive for many year round residents to afford to live in.

Gregory reminded that his board founded the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust. The fund – which has already been promised $2.5 million should the approved Bulova condos be constructed – Gregory said, would help fund down payments and low interest loans for families seeking affordable housing in the Sag Harbor Union Free School District.

“There are homes available,” said Holden. Holden added the village also needs to look into legalizing accessory apartments, which would enable homeowners to have a second income that would make it financially possible for them to own homes. She cautioned the village against regulating who can rent these accessory units.

Stein agreed there are a number of properties in the village practically tailor-made for apartments with owners who are unable to afford the rising cost of living in Sag Harbor.

“The thing I get nervous about, and I don’t disagree Bulova was a good project, was relying on developers to fund affordable housing can be a dangerous game because you end up in this catch-22,” said Culver. “I think [mayor] Greg [Ferraris] and the board have done a great job trying to explore ways to fund that and it doesn’t take a lot of money to fund.”

Culver and Gregory agreed that prioritizing volunteers, teachers and police was a good goal.

“And it also allows you to negotiate better contracts with your employees,” added Culver, to the agreement of the other candidates. “You can say, ‘Listen, I know the going wage is this, but we can offer you housing.’ So it has an overall positive effect.”

Other projects and issues Holden would like to tackle, if elected, in the next two years include looking at the drainage problem at Havens Beach and seeking to acquire the Long Island Avenue property currently owned by National Grid, which she feels she is equipped to handle. Holden added if the National Grid property is kept a parking lot she would like to see it constructed as a green lot, with plenty of drainage.

Gregory said one of the things he would like to take on is traffic calming around the schools through the Safe Routes to School program. He would like to also see bike paths created around the village as a way to alleviate parking concerns in the downtown. Energy saving, in the municipal buildings in particular, is also a priority.

Culver would like to continue work on the zoning code, and said the village would need to continue to be mindful of the budget.

“I think residents should be proud,” said Culver. “Our neighbors are having issues, but we have kept things pretty tight.”

Culver said he would also like to explore addressing drainage at Havens Beach, and as far as parking goes he would be interested to see if a municipal valet could be a revenue source for the village.

Stein said he would like to tackle a number of those issues, but he would also like to explore affordable ways of increasing health care education for seniors in Sag Harbor by providing a resource through a health care professional to help teach seniors about what their healthcare options are.

Stein said he would like to see the village involved with the myriad of volunteer organizations in attempts to solve issues like greening in the village, bike paths and development issues.

“I think this is a difficult election because this is a body of agreeable people,” said Stein, looking around the table.