By Christine Sampson
A new event series created by The Sag Harbor Express will kick off on Friday, January 19, to bring together policy makers and leading voices for conversations about local topics like affordable housing, health care and other specific issues.
“The Express Sessions” will be held monthly at the American Hotel and will include lunch as a diverse panel takes on quality-of-life issues and answers guests’ questions. The first session is about affordable housing. Tickets for the sessions are $25 and include a four-course lunch, although next week’s session has sold out.
“We designed ‘The Express Sessions’ with the community in mind, to give people an opportunity to listen to and speak with experts in their particular fields,” said Gavin Menu, co-publisher and director of advertising for The Sag Harbor Express. “Affordable Housing, or the lack thereof, is affecting people from across all economic spectrums on the East End and through all kinds of businesses. We hope ‘The Express Sessions’ allow for constructive conversation, taken out of the typical boardroom setting, that will not only help educate and inform the attendees, but also might help find solutions to some of the problems that exist.”
The Express Sessions are presented by GNFerarris, LLC and sponsored by the Law Office of John J. Leonard, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Sag Harbor Variety Store, The Washwick Agency and Burke & Sullivan, Attorneys at Law. LTV is also sponsoring the event and will help produce and broadcast the sessions for future viewing.
On the first panel is Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who has helped a handful of affordable housing developments in the town move forward, including the Sandy Hollow Cove Apartments in Tuckahoe and the Speonk Commons in Speonk. Mr. Schneiderman was recently reelected to his second term in Southampton Town and previously served as a supervisor in East Hampton Town and as a Suffolk County Legislator.
His East Hampton counterpart, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, who was sworn in to his first term as supervisor on January 2, will also be on the panel. Mr. Van Scoyoc has said addressing this issue is one of his priorities, and was recently quoted as saying the lack of affordable housing “is starting to have negative impacts across many sectors of our lives.”
Diana Weir, another panelist, was appointed this past summer to lead Southampton Town’s newly created Office of Housing and Community Development. She previously served as commissioner of housing and human services in Brookhaven Town and was executive vice president of the Long Island Housing Partnership.
Another panelist is Robert Calvert, a director of the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust (SHCHT). The SHCHT purchased the nine-unit property The Cottages on Route 114 in 2014 to preserve them as affordable units, and is currently working on a plan to use it as a model for sustainable affordable housing developments, according to its website.
Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who was recently elected to a second term on the legislature, has also joined the panel. Ms. Fleming has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that has shepherded affordable housing projects forward in East Hampton and Southampton towns.
Catherine M. Casey, executive director of the East Hampton Town Housing Authority, will also join the affordable housing panel. That organization has recently moved forward with a 37-unit complex in Amagansett and has completed other projects in East Hampton Town.
Rounding out the panel on January 19 is Michael Daly, a member of the Progressive East End Reformers’ Next Gen Housing Collaborative who runs the “East End YIMBY” organization and is an associate broker for Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Tickets for future Express Sessions and sponsorships are available by calling 631-725-1700 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Ticket purchases by credit card can be made at expresssessions.eventbrite.com.