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Town Board seeks candidates to replace Larry Simms on IDA

Larry Simms’ brief tenure as a member of the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency has come to an end.

Mr. Simms, an outspoken critic of the IDA who was appointed to the board earlier this year, submitted his letter of resignation.

Mr. Simms recently sold his home in South Jamesport, where he was registered to vote in Riverhead Town, and moved to Pittsburgh, Pa. Although he owns several properties in Riverhead, IDA members are required to live in the town, not just own property within it, according to the IDA’s attorney, Richard Ehlers. 

Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said at Thursday’s Town Board work session that the board will begin looking for a replacement member and will advertise the position. Those interested can apply online. The board hopes to close applications within the next few weeks, she said.

“I think the board seriously needs some outside perspective and I feel I was very well qualified to do that,” Mr. Simms said in a phone interview. “Yeah, I was disappointed I didn’t have more time to contribute, but it’s not a big deal. It’s easier for me not to do it, that’s for sure.”

Mr. Simms attended the Aug. 6 IDA meeting after commuting from Pennsylvania. He offered to remain on the IDA if that was acceptable. He said there were no issues with his participation in that meeting and he described it as a “productive” one where he made motions that passed.

The IDA gives tax incentives as a means of encouraging businesses to come to Riverhead. As a private citizen, Mr. Simms frequently attended the meetings and often spoke out on applications or asked questions.

He was appointed to the IDA by the Town Board, which voted 3-2 in favor of his appointment. Councilman Jim Wooten and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio had both said at the time they felt better candidates were available and voted no. The opening came after longtime IDA member Lou Kalogeras stepped down because he was moving to Florida.

Mr. Simms said he informed IDA chairman Tom Cruso in early June that he was “leaving town” and intended to continue to serve.

“It took more than a month for him to get an opinion,” he said. “The opinion said that public officers law doesn’t allow it and I had de facto resigned the moment I moved out of Riverhead.”

Mr. Simms said he informed the supervisor and Councilman Tim Hubbard, who serves as deputy supervisor, that he serves on the IDA board “at their pleasure” and if they preferred he resigned, he would do so.

“They didn’t have to go to the board for a vote, I offered to resign if that was their preference and they said they thought it would be easier, so I did.”

Photo caption: Larry Simms pictured at the Aug. 6 Riverhead IDA meeting. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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