For Gregory Ferraris, the decision to be an active participant on the board of various nonprofits and local government bodies was a responsibility the Sag Harbor native felt deeply about after returning to his hometown in 1999, having spent eight years in Boston, where he had been working as a tax and audit manager at a CPA firm.
“It was important to me to give back to the community that afforded me the opportunity to succeed personally and professionally,” Mr. Ferraris said in an interview on Tuesday. “That was the mindset.”
Mr. Ferraris, 50, was honored for that commitment to Sag Harbor on Sunday evening at Baron’s Cove by the Sag Harbor Partnership, which gave the Main Street business owner and former village mayor its fourth annual Community Service Award. Baron’s Cove has underwritten the event for the Partnership every year, noted the nonprofit’s president, Gail Gallagher.
“He not only was a trustee and mayor during a really contentious time in this village, when a large user wanted to come in and build a 15,000-square-foot store, but was present, helpful and led the charge to get the code revised,” said Partnership Treasurer Susan Mead. “We love our downtown, and in large part the big reason, the main reason, is it is what it is because of Greg.”
Mr. Ferraris served on the Sag Harbor Village Board as both a trustee and eventually as mayor from 2003 to 2009, during which the board embarked on an ambitious zoning code revision aimed at protecting the character of Main Street and its small, independent shops and restaurants.
A Sag Harbor native, the son of Richard and Susan Ferraris, he was a graduate of Pierson High School before attending college at LIU-C.W. Post College, earning a Bachelor of Accounting degree. Upon returning to the village, Mr. Ferraris became a part of the accounting firm Banducci, Katz and Ferraris and now owns the firm GNFerraris.
In addition to serving on the Village Board, Mr. Ferraris has also been a member of the Planning Board, and that board’s chairman, the village Ethics Board, and has served on nonprofit boards, including the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees and the boards of Bay Street Theater, the Sag Harbor Charity Cup Challenge and the Mashashimuet Park Board.
Currently, Mr. Ferraris is the president and treasurer of the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust, the Reutershan Educational Trust and the board of Peconic Landing at Southold Inc.
On Sunday, surrounded by family members, including his wife, Pia, and daughter, Haley, as well as colleagues, members of the Partnership board and local government leaders, Mr. Ferraris pivoted the conversation away from his own service to Sag Harbor Village and instead focused on the two dozen guests in the room and their contributions.
“On behalf of the community, we owe you a debt of gratitude for what you all have accomplished,” said Mr. Ferraris of the Partnership and its board. “I have been working with nonprofit organizations for 20, 25 years, and it is remarkable what you have been able to accomplish. Not just the fundraising aspect of it, but the fact you are able to roll up your sleeves and do everything it takes … I appreciate you.”
Mr. Ferraris also thanked a number of elected officials seated at the dinner, including Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy, who he said was “off to great success,” and Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, both residents of greater Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming presented Mr. Ferraris with a county proclamation for his service to the community at the end of evening.
“What we are grateful for is, you are bound to the community,” he said of the government officials. “You either grew up here, you live here, you have kids in the school district. First and foremost, you have Sag Harbor and the community in mind, and it is extremely important.”
“It is amazing how we have an individual who provides so much from the state, but he always looks back to Sag Harbor,” said Mr. Ferraris of Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
Noting a collective 45 years of service, Mr. Ferraris also thanked his former colleagues on the Planning Board, including Neil Slevin, Nat Brown and Larry Perrine, as well as friends and business associates whom he credited for his own success.
That included Ed and Bethany Deyermond, a member of the volunteer fire department and a former mayor and a member of the village’s Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board.
“The reason I stepped into service is because of the two of them,” said Mr. Ferraris. “They constantly devote all their time and attention toward civic duties … They are the epitome of what civic involvement is all about and have been their entire lives.”