A public meeting to determine whether tiny Sagaponack Village gets a police force all its own — “the last one before the board decides yea or nay,” promised Mayor Donald Louchheim when the village board met on Monday — will take place on Sept. 7 at 9 a.m.
The board will hear views pro and con at that time, said the mayor, this time including line-by-line budgets. An Aug. 10 meeting, attended by 100 or so residents, did not provide detailed numbers and ended with more questions than answers.
Mr. Louchheim and the board feel that a Sagaponack police department would provide more service to residents, at a lower cost, than Southampton Town police do now. The village has tried over the past two years to get the town to provide more coverage for its $2.3 million annually, but without success. “As a practical matter,” said Mr. Louchheim, having its own force “may be the only course available under current law.” If public opinion backs him up, he hopes for a local force to start patrolling no later than Jan. 1, 2014.
The mayor told Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst last week that he would consider a proposal from the town up until Sept. 16.
In response to requests at the Aug. 10 meeting for a public referendum, the mayor said he had researched state and village laws and that the board was “prohibited from holding a referendum on this.”
A resolution was unanimously passed on Monday to hire William Wilson, a former Southampton Town Police chief, as a consultant to prepare a budget and a timeline of implementation. He was chosen, according to the mayor, for his knowledge of police department personnel, equipment, supplies, and vehicles.
The budget will be posted on the village’s Web page, and the board will negotiate with other local departments for services such as dispatch and the use of a jail.
Mr. Wilson, who resigned from his town job in November after 18 months of disagreements with the town board and the supervisor, will be paid a fee not to exceed $2,500.
Al Hulten, a village resident, had a few questions for the board. He was unclear if and how a police department would be formed by Jan. 1; the mayor confirmed that that was indeed the target date. Mr. Hulten then suggested that unemployed officers recently laid off by Southampton Town might be interested to work outside the Police Benevolent Association’s requirements. The mayor said that applications had already been received.
In other business, the board decided to widen Sagg Road and add painted shoulder lines as the process of improving its drainage continues. Although it will not be a bike lane, which would require four feet and special markings, the widening is expected to enhance the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
An application for a Family Fun Day at the Renksy residence on Bridge Lane, which was rejected at the board’s last meeting, was revised and revisited following a plea from Kimberly Proal, who runs Ms. Rensky’s New York business, City Babies. Calling it a “charity event in Tracy’s backyard,” Ms. Proal offered to remove a vendor section which was to have been set up for retailers to promote their products. “Besides juice and water, they have all have been eliminated,” she said.
The charity to benefit, Baby Buggy, delivers basic babies’ needs throughout the five boroughs, she explained.
Joy Sieger, a trustee, recommended that a parking plan be submitted by tomorrow. The application was accepted on that condition, and the applicant was also asked to include a local charity.
“If a valet parker tries to park on the road, they will be ticketed,” warned Mayor Louchheim.