The Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association will have a new leader, as longtime president Ray Pickersgill, who has held that post since April 2010, opted not to seek another term Wednesday.
Steve Shauger, who had been the group’s vice president since 2014, will become president, and Mr. Pickersgill will remain on the board as vice president. Mr. Shauger, a Riverhead resident, is the general manager of the Hyatt Place East End hotel on East Main Street.
Mr. Pickersgill, an owner of Robert James Salon on East Main Street, had said earlier this year that he intended to step down as president once a replacement was found. He lives in Nesconset.
Over the past six years, the BIDMA has hosted a number of popular events in the downtown business area, including the annual Cardboard Boat Race, the Fourth of July fireworks and concerts, the Thursday classic car shows, the winter farmer’s market, and this year, the Alive on 25 concerts on two Thursdays per month in July and August.
“I appreciate being on the board,” Mr. Shauger said. “In the past three years, I think we’ve done a substantial amount of good for downtown. All of us can understand how much time it takes. All of us have our jobs.”
He suggested the board have a paid assistant or executive director to handle some of the day-to-day activities, a position the BIDMA had in past years.
Newly-elected BIDMA member John Mantzopoulos suggested Mr. Pickersgill for that position, but Mr. Pickersgill declined.
“I appreciate that, but it’s time for me to go on to other things,” Mr. Pickersgill said. “I’ve done this for six years.”
The BIDMA hasn’t formally voted to create a director position, and must still determine the cost and duties of the post if it does decide to have a paid director or secretary.
The BIDMA’s officer elections were done by the BIDMA members, but Wednesday also was the annual election for BIDMA members, a vote held only among commercial tenants or land owners within the BID, a special taxing district created in 1990 and dedicated to promoting and improving downtown Riverhead.
The BIDMA board comprises five tenant representatives, five owner representatives, who are elected, and three positions appointed by the Riverhead Town Board.
In order to have the vote, done by written ballot at the meeting Wednesday at Town Hall, at least 10 owners and 10 tenants needed to present. The voting took place between 5:30 and 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, while 10 tenants were present, only six owners were there. BIDMA members had to call other business owners and ask if they could come down to Town Hall and vote.
When the vote could take place, two tenant seats were up for reelection on the BIDMA and three business owner seats. Initially, there was only one owner on the ballot, incumbent Dee Muma of Dark Horse restaurant, and three tenants: Mainstream House owner Bob Hartmann, who is currently on the board, Mazi owner John Mantzopoulos and Vital-a-Tea owner Carolyn Poncato, who is not on the board.
PeraBell Food Bar owner John Peragine then ran as a write-in for an owner seat, and incumbent Bill Allan, whose term was up but he wasn’t on the ballot, decided to run as a write-in candidate for a tenant position, leaving four candidates for three seats.
In the end, Ms. Muma and Mr. Peragine were elected to the two owner positions, with 9 and 8 votes respectively, while Mr. Hartmann (15 votes), Mr. Mantzopoulos (13 votes) and Mr. Allan (12 votes) were elected as tenants, defeating Ms. Poncato (10 votes), who had earlier given an impassioned speech about the lack of interest business owners have in participating in government, and how many of them are bitter and angry. She said she spoke to 50 business owners and none of them showed up for the election.
Ms. Poncato said foot traffic downtown is “non-existent.”
The two newcomers on the board — Mr. Mantzopoulos, who had been on the board prior to last year when he stepped down to reopen his restaurant, which had been damaged in a fire, and Mr. Peragine — fill two positions that had been vacated by Bill Barauskas of the Suffolk County Historical Society and James Foster of Sweet Tarts frozen yogurt.
Top Photo Caption: Steve Shauger, center, is the new BIDMA president, replacing Ray Pickersgill, right, who remains on the board as vice president. (Credit:Tim Gannon)