Tag Archive | "trustees"

North Haven To Discuss Potential For “Sign Ban”

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By Claire Walla

Should they stay or should they go?

For North Haven Village Trustees, signage has been a big topic of interest. Not only has it recently prompted trustees to entertain the notion of amending village code to more clearly delineate what does and does not constitute a sign, but the topic has also caused trustees to wonder whether the village could eliminate signage altogether.

At the next trustees’ meeting on Tuesday, March 6, village board members will meet with the village’s attorney, Anthony Tohill, to discuss the various options before them. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m.

The idea of barring signs was first brought up by Trustee Jeff Sander during the village’s last meeting in February.

“I don’t think signs add anything to the environment and the beauty of the community,” he said in an interview this week.

Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village hears numerous complaints from people in the community regarding what they apparently perceive to be excessive signage. In 26 years on the board, she added that she’s heard this complaint year after year.

“We keep trying to wrestle with [zoning] regulations and [sign] size, that takes a lot of time and thought,” Sander continued. “And enforcing whatever you pass is very difficult. I just think the community would be better served if we eliminated them.”

Sander clarified that any proposed ban would not include necessary signs, like street names and home addresses. It would be aimed more at curbing the excess of real estate and construction advertisements.

According to Welch, the village has long struggled with these structures.

“They just get too heavy,” she said. “Especially when you have a large project on a county road — that’s highly visible. [Residents] think it looks ugly.”

She then added, “When you already have a construction project going on, you don’t need signs peppered up and down the dirt hills.”

The notion of amending the village’s sign code has been discussed in this sense for years, but it was spurred in earnest at the beginning of this year when a North Haven resident complained of a homemade wooden sign that had been displayed at the corner of Route 114 and Maunakea.

“That precipitated the entire discussion,” Welch explained.

The structure, which has since been taken town, was a block of wood into which the address number, “144 Ferry Road,” was carved with big block letters. Though some trustees remarked at the size of the sign, at issue was its location.

“There was a question of whether or not it was on village property,” Welch added.

As for how this type of sign will be viewed by the village, Sander said at this point that will largely be contingent on what Tohill will bring to the table. At the trustees’ meeting last month, Tohill said he could not recall any other municipalities that had issued an all-out ban on signs, but he’s bringing his findings to the meeting on Tuesday.

“At this point, I think it’s going to be a legal question,” Sander continued. Based on some correspondences he said he had with some lawyers, Sander said there may be some issues of “freedom of speech” at hand.

“[Tohill] will have information for us about whether we can really do this, or not,” he added.

Cops and Trustees’ Last-Minute Budget Talks

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by Claire Walla

Perhaps no department in the town of Southampton has been as fiercely scrutinized during this year’s budget process as the Southampton Town Police Department. Though it’s still unknown how deep into the red the department’s overtime budget will be before the end of this fiscal year, it’s already seen a deficit in overtime spending that’s topped $250,000.

What’s more, Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilkinson has been tasked with streamlining the department, reducing current staffing levels from 96 to 90 officers.

While he’s been charged with finding a solution for his department’s current deficit, he also faces some backlash to his proposed plan to trim his department — which, he argues, would help alleviate the issues with the current deficit. The chief’s plan hinges on introducing new technology into the force.

“The technology program is critical,” Wilkinson told Southampton Town Board members at a town hall work session on Tuesday, November 15. “We’re looking to streamline and flatten out the command structure [of the police department] — that’s dependent on having the technology project.”

According to Wilkinson’s estimates, a standard Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrest typically requires officers to take roughly four to five hours to process the paperwork associated with it. With the proposed technology project — an automated system that would cut down on the amount of paper work and data entry officers are now responsible for — he said the time it takes to process a DWI would be cut in half.

Among town board members, there seemed to be few arguments with the benefits of the program. However, Councilman Jim Malone said he wondered whether the project, at roughly $700,000, would be too expensive to implement in this economic climate.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said. “With the state of economics being what they are, we’re trying to get by year to year… [The technology project] is an investment, but it carries a cost.”

For Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the decision of whether or not to invest in new technology is not a simple matter deciding whether or not to pay for a $700,000 project. “The balancing act is: do we invest in the technology, or do we invest in more police officers?” she asked rhetorically.

Because if the town decides not to invest in the new technology, she pointed out that the police force would be short-staffed and would not be able to function adequately — without dipping into its overtime funds.


After several meetings with town board members regarding their proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year, the Southampton Town Trustees finally seemed to come to an understanding with the board regarding how much money each entity is willing to spend to keep the trustees in operation.

The trustees’ ultimately requested permission to put up a bond measure for $250,000 that would be met with a financial contribution from the town of $150,000.

This money would be put toward a series of four projects that trustees said are of high priority. The first and most important project would be to build a new structure to replace the existing storage facility on Jackson Avenue in Hampton Bays ($275,000). Additionally, the trustees need $15,000 to fix the Wooley Pond bulkhead, $200,000 for the Old Fort Pond dock, and $200,000 for the Baycrest Avenue dock

While Councilman Jim Malone noted that the total cost of these projects comes out to $690,000 and the trustees are asking for $400,000 in funds, Trustee Eric Schultz noted that the trustees would simply get through as many projects as they could before their funding ran out.

“I support the bonding,” Malone finally commented.

Additionally, the trustees asked to keep the services of attorney Joe Lombardo, who they said is well-versed in patent law and was instrumental in helping the trustees successfully defend their rights against implementing a saltwater fishing license in the town of Southampton. His has been written out of the supervisor’s tentative budget.

“If you decide not to keep him,” Schultz added, “We request that we have someone with the same amount of time dedicated to us.”

Finally, the trustees argued that they needed the services of a marine maintenance supervisor. The position is currently vacant due to retirement. And in order to save costs, the trustees proposed a 50/50 deal, in which they would pay half of this person’s salary, which they estimated would total $75,000.

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.”

Library Board Election Nears, Merrell Withdraws

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Just one week prior to election, incumbent trustee and candidate Susan Merrell threw her support behind the other trustee candidates vying for one of the three open seats on the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

“I realize that it is too late to withdraw my name from the ballot, but I am writing to throw my support behind the remaining candidates for the upcoming election,” wrote Merrell in an email to fellow board members and library director Catherine Creedon on Tuesday morning. “While I am extremely proud to have been one of the first three elected trustees of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board — proud to have been chosen, proud of what we accomplished, and proud of what the future holds — I am, in a word, tired.”

Merrell went on to write that while the past three years have been “truly gratifying,” she needed a break from her duties to focus on family and professional commitments over the course of the next year. Merrell added that she does not rule out the possibility of running again in the future, and has no intention of stepping away from fundraising for the library.

“And now, with experienced trustees such as Christiane and Tippy, and ‘new blood’ like Craig, I feel extremely comfortable stepping aside at the end of the current year,” she wrote.

The announcement came just seven days before the Tuesday, September 16 budget vote and trustee election for the John Jermain Memorial Library and just one day before a planned budget and trustee forum at the library, which was held last night, Wednesday, September 10.

Merrell’s departure leaves three candidates — current library board president Christiane Neuville, current trustee Theresa (Tippy) Ameres and newcomer Craig Rhodes — vying for three seats. Despite throwing her support towards the other candidates Merrell’s name will remain on Tuesday’s ballot.

It also marks the second trustee in the last month who has chosen to step aside in the face of mounting commitments elsewhere. Last month, Kate Evarts resigned from the board saying professional commitments will keep her on the West Coast and unable to fulfill her duties here. Last year, Evarts was elected to fill the remainder of Deborah Wilson’s unexpired term with 59 write-in votes.

Evart’s term was due to run through December 2009. Unlike Evarts, Merrell will serve the rest of her term — through the end of this December. Evart’s seat is not one of the three up for grabs with this election.

On Wednesday, Creedon said she was unsure of what the board’s options would be should Merrell be re-elected to the board, despite preferring residents give their votes to the remaining candidates. Creedon said she believed the board could have the same options it has with Evart’s seat. In that case, the board can choose to not act and instead wait until elections are held in September of next year, it can hold a special election 60 days after the September 16 election or appoint a new trustee to fulfill the remaining term. The three seats up for grabs on next week’s ballot are all for three-year terms.

“I loved working with her,” said Creedon of Merrell on Wednesday. “She is vibrant and smart and a real asset for the library. I am thrilled she will be with us the remaining three months.”

Merrell is an author who has worked at a number of publishing houses and is currently in the process of earning her master’s degree in writing. One of the first three members of the board to be elected, rather than appointed, Merrell has chaired the fundraising committee for three years, raising a quarter million dollars — a feat she noted this week was indicative of the generous support the library has received despite the economy.

In addition to the trustee seats up for grabs, Sag Harbor School District residents will also vote on the proposed library budget for the coming fiscal year. This year’s budget is proposed at $989,580, a 9.26 percent increase from last year’s approved spending plan of $905,700. The vote and election will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Residents in the Sag Harbor School District who have registered to vote are eligible. 

Photo by R. Odell-Shapiro