Candidates interviewed for advisory boards

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Southampton residents interested in serving on some of the town’s advisory boards were interviewed by the Southampton Town Board at Friday’s work session.

Among the hopefuls, B. Kay Jones of Hampton Bays, who was born and raised in Water Mill, said her extensive background in architecture and design uniquely qualifies her for the town’s Architectural Review Board.

“I’m well aware of zoning laws and what fits within the various neighborhoods in town,” said Ms. Jones, who runs her own company which provides managerial services to small and midsize businesses. From 1980 until she opened her business in 1990, Ms. Jones worked for architectural firms in Water Mill, Southampton and Bridgehampton.

“I’m not committed to any one particular style of architecture or design,” she said. “It all depends upon the character of a given community.”

Ms. Jones said preserving the historic character of the town is her paramount concern, a sentiment that resonated with the Town Board. Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst told the prospective appointee that she would like to have someone with Ms. Jones’s experience to work on maintaining the community character along County Road 39. “I think it would be helpful to have someone from the ARB sit in on those discussions,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

Thomas Downing Jr., another ARB candidate, was born in New York City but has been a full-time Southampton resident for 12 years, saying he made the move east because he wanted to raise his family in Southampton. The candidate said he is getting married soon and that inspired him to somehow serve the community. “I wanted to do something that would make a positive impact for the future,” Mr. Downing said.

A partner with Coastal Management in East Quogue, Mr. Downing has been in construction for 15 years.

“I’ve built everything from Victorian homes to ultra-modern,” he said, adding that retaining community character was also an important theme in his work. But Mr. Downing made an impression on the Town Board when he mentioned that he had a vast knowledge of the newest building materials available to the industry and that was a factor, he suggested, the ARB should consider in its work.

John Kestler, a Sag Harbor resident and engineering consultant for residential and commercial projects who also interviewed for the ARB, defined community character in terms of scale.

“The Kmart shopping center is something that shouldn’t be repeated,” Mr. Kestler said, referring to Bridgehampton Commons, adding that most large-scale developments were not in keeping with the aesthetics of the town, especially along County Road 39.

During his interview, Assessment Board candidate Bill Berkoski, a well-known Southampton entrepreneur, said his 34 years of making deliveries for his eponymous oil company allowed him to learn about all the areas of the township. Mr. Berkoski added that in his line of work he had grown accustomed to dealing with grievances.

“I have to deal with those grievances in a practical and commonsense way,” he said, adding that perspective is necessary for working with taxpayers unhappy with their assessments.

Born and raised in Southampton, Mr. Berkoski said his lifelong experience in Southampton enhances his resume.

The Town Board also interviewed and reviewed the resumes of Ann Marie Fullam, who expressed interest in serving on the Licensing Review Board as well as the ARB, and Gary Cobb of Flanders, who is seeking a position on the Historic Districts Landmarks Board.

An accountant with 17 years of experience with various local firms, Ms. Fullam is also an interior designer who started her own design firm in 2003.

“As a member of this community, I feel it is important to preserve our environment and its beauty,” she said, adding that residents of the East End live in one of “the most beautiful places in the world.”

With his East End heritage dating back 12 generations, Mr. Cobb said he was most passionate about the history of his Flanders community.

“There’s no real documented history of Flanders,” Mr. Cobb said. “Flanders needs representation on this board. It has been the stepchild of the town for far too long.”

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