Making a Village - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2077296

Making a Village

It was not surprising to see the recent announcement that the Village of Quogue had received a Triple-A bond rating from Moody’s Investor Service, given the village’s excellent governance, currently, both at the mayoral and trustee level [“Quogue Village Receives Highest Bond Rating From Moody’s Investors Service,”, January 30].

But, as the pundits say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” — and neither was Quogue. Reaching the apogee of any governmental rating system requires good decision-making over a long period of time, generally many years, sometimes many decades, and involves a score of unsung heroes.

And, thankfully for the denizens of Quogue, our little village has been blessed with good karma, seemingly, since its inception, beginning with John Ogden, who founded the village after purchasing favorable land from a local Montaukett tribal chieftain, named Wyandanch, in 1659.

But fast-forward to the 20th century, and one critical decision by our village fathers looms large: the decision in 1928 to secede from suzerainty of the Town of Southampton and incorporate into a self-governing village. This allowed the village to control its police force, control much of its infrastructure, control its zoning and materially affect its taxation.

Local control of these governmental levers is critical for the development and maintenance of any right-minded community and, when combined with continuously competent leadership, can result, one century later, in a AAA community.

And let’s not forget some of the names that contributed along the way: Sherman Joost, the mayor who oversaw that incorporation of the village and orchestrated the cleanup from the disastrous hurricane of 1938; Frederick McCoun, the man with a gentlemanly, courtly aura but with an indefatigable resistance to real estate subdevelopers who sought to transmogrify the village into a den of small lots; Harvey Cooley, a visionary deal-maker/school principal/mayor who created what is now the Village Beach; and his trusty colleague, Carl Cardo, then the longest-serving trustee in village history.

And, more recently, Decker Orr, a long-tenured mayor who left us a beautiful legacy of conservation; Thelma Georgeson, the grandmotherly mayor, who revamped the zoning districts and helped preserve the open space we currently enjoy today; George Motz, a project-oriented mayor who, uniquely, was able to liberate monies from the town Community Preservation Fund to enhance the Village Beach infrastructure while also working to beautify the village dock and create our idyllic village pond.

And, finally, Peter Sartorius, our recent mayor, who has expertly navigated our little village through the roiling political and sociological waters of the East End over the last decade.

It is said, in the regions of the Yoruba, that “It takes a village to raise a child”; in the regions of the Quaquanantuck, it takes more than a child — it takes dedicated public servants, over decades — to make a village.

Mark J. Schulte