By Stephen J. Kotz
With concerns over the rapid transformation of Sag Harbor’s historic district taking center stage, Mayor Sandra Schroeder sent out a strong signal that historic preservation would be a priority in her administration when she appointed two former and outspoken chairmen to the village’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review this week.
In a virtual remaking of the ARB, the village board approved Ms. Schroeder’s appointment of Anthony Brandt as chairman and Chris Leonard as a board member at Monday’s organizational meeting. Mr. Brandt was the ARB’s original chairman, and Mr. Leonard served as chairman during the 1990s and early 2000s.
“I’m stacking the deck because I know what works,” Ms. Schroeder said. “Those guys are phenomenal. They do their homework and they know what’s what.”
Mr. Brandt, who was the ARB’s first chairman, from 1986 to 1990, said he agreed to return “because it was obvious the board was not doing the job the village expected of it. There seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction in the village.”
“I care very much for the village and I care very much for preserving its character,” he added.
Mr. Leonard, who appeared a recent ARB meeting, where he took the former chairman, Cee Scott Brown, to task for failing to make historic preservation a priority, said he expected he and Mr. Brandt would steer the board toward a stricter interpretation of its mandate.
“At least two members of the board have a different view than the former chairman had,” he said.
Ms. Schroeder also named Dean Gomolka, a landscape architect who she said would bring a valuable perspective to the board, to a three-year term.
The new appointees join Bethany Deyermond, who was appointed to another term, and Christine Patrick, whose term expires in 2017.
Penni Ludwig, who had two years remaining on her term, will move to an alternate position, joining John C. Connor. As alternates, they will serve when the board does not have a full complement of members.
Ms. Schroeder said she asked both Ms. Ludwig and Ms. Patrick, who have missed a number of meeting this year for personal reasons, if they would be willing to accept a reduced role. Ms. Ludwig agreed, while Ms. Patrick said she wanted to complete her term, the mayor said.
Longtime ARB member Tom Horn Sr. was not reappointed. On Tuesday, he said he would have been willing to serve another term if asked.
Zachary Studenroth was named the village’s historic consultant, filling a position that has been left vacant since Alison Cornish left more than a decade ago.
The mayor also appointed John Shaka, who was named to the village Harbor Committee last year, as chairman to replace Stephen Clarke, who resigned, because he is moving out of the village. Jeffrey Peters, who has served in a holdover position on the committee for the past two years, was reappointed, although his term expires next year. Dr. Fitzgerald Bramwell was appointed the harbor committee’s alternate member.
Neil Slevin, a former planning board chairman, was named to fill the unexpired term of James Larocca, who, the mayor announced last week, was appointed to fill the vacancy on the village board created by her election as mayor last month.
Village Clerk Beth Kamper also received a new title—village administrator—on Monday.