Southampton Town Board Work Session Focuses on Chief's Legacy and Supervisor's Listening Sessions - 27 East

Southampton Town Board Work Session Focuses on Chief's Legacy and Supervisor's Listening Sessions

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Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Kitty Merrill on Oct 18, 2022

At an abbreviated work session of Friday, October 14 — rescheduled from Thursday, October 13, to the following day so officials could attend the funeral of Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki — members of the Town Board reflected on the chief’s legacy.

“Yesterday was the funeral for our beloved chief,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman began. “It was very moving. It was a tough day for us.”

He spoke of the chief’s son’s eulogy. “The chief would have been proud” of the words offered by Nassau County Police Detective Sergeant Scott Skrynecki, Schneiderman said.

Skrynecki’s impact will be long reaching, the lawmaker continued. “For me? The six years I got to work with him, I’ll certainly cherish for the rest of my days,” he said.

Schneiderman said he hopes to put together a local memorial event — “a remembrance, a celebration” — as the funeral was held in Amityville.

Making note of the officers from myriad police departments, from Nassau County to Southampton and agencies in between, who paid their respects at the funeral, Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said, “It was truly a fitting sendoff to a man who dedicated his life to public service and protecting the safety and security of those in our community.”

Councilman Rick Martel said, “The tears at the funeral were overshadowed by the pride of actually knowing such a fine and dedicated man … it was like one big family there saying goodbye.”

Town Attorney James Burke spoke of how the chief was always willing to hear anyone’s point of view.

Through the chief’s illness, for an extended period of time, the supervisor mentioned, Captain James Kiernan has “really done a great job in running the department.” He’s on tap to continue the chief’s duties on an interim basis.

Hampton Bays Sessions

Board members also received an update regarding Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s “listening sessions” in Hampton Bays, designed to allow community members to share opinions on the revitalization of the hamlet.

The previous night’s outing was “packed” he said on October 14, reporting that it was planned for two hours but went on for four.

“There had to be at least 75 people there,” Schneiderman said.

The supervisor made note of “some interesting voices.” Young people spoke of how difficult it is to buy a home in the community and their desires for revitalization.

About 25 percent of those who attended an earlier session spoke again, but the other 75 percent of speakers were “new people,” according to Schneiderman. Still, attendance was not reflective of the community’s diversity. Speakers were predominantly in their 60s and white.

Speakers articulated a lot of concerns about population density, concerns about the heights of buildings and property taxes. A lot of people spoke of how bad the traffic was and fears that increased density would make it worse.

Some people said they liked things as they are, Schneiderman reported. Some spoke of beautification, “clean up things, but not too much.”

A lot of concerns about the sewage treatment plant were reiterated — “a lot of people saying it’s not an appropriate site” — due to its proximity to the cemetery.

The sessions were proposed in the wake of a contentious, crowded public meeting about the Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District legislation. Passed in 2019, it was the subject of litigation by a community member and was annulled by the court.

Speakers last week asked officials to drop their appeal of that decision. They felt that hosting listening sessions while moving forward with an appeal seems disingenuous. Schneiderman reported.

“They’re asking me to communicate to the board that they do not want to continue the appeal and allow a new process to emerge that’s more reflective of the community,” he said.

Because no more than two members of the board can be present at one time — a quorum makes a gathering an official Town Board meeting — Schneiderman said he took extensive notes. Listening sessions are slated to continue on Thursdays at the Hampton Bays Community Center through the month.

Was there a consensus that people actually want a revitalization of downtown Hampton Bays, Schiavoni wondered.

“That question I can’t answer yet,” Schneiderman replied. There was no clear consensus, he said.

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