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Dering Harbor kicks back

SUSAN CAREY DEMPSEY PHOTO Ken Walker can’t resist the seafood buffet with Village Hall in background.
Ken Walker can’t resist the seafood buffet.

As September signaled its arrival with a welcome cooling in temperature, the mayor and trustees of the Village of Dering Harbor hosted an end-of-summer cocktail party for residents on the grounds of Village Hall.

The gathering marked the close of a season and equally served to mark a softening in the atmosphere that had pervaded village relations in recent years.

Dozens of guests complimented the seafood and beverages served, as well as – for the first time – flowers. Kudos went to Mayor Betsy Morgan and new Trustee Clora Kelly, who recently joined Karen Kelsey, Ari Benacerraf and Patrick Purcells on the Village Board.

Young people savored the food and freedom of a last summer weekend, while their parents traded stories about golf and sailing. Other guests remarked on the service for Senator John McCain that had dominated the airwaves most of the day, as the American flag stood at half-staff in the background.

SUSAN CAREY DEMPSEY PHOTO Mayor Betsy Morgan and Trustee Patrick Parcells.
SUSAN CAREY DEMPSEY PHOTO Mayor Betsy Morgan and Trustee Patrick Parcells.

There have been a number of changes in the village this summer, beginning with the election of Mayor Morgan and re-election of trustees in June. The fact that the election was barely contested was a change in itself.

The Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) has taken over running the village’s troubled water system, in a plan largely spearheaded by Mr. Purcells. Hap Bowditch resigned from operating the system, but was hired by SCWA to help them understand the infrastructure. While water problems continue, a more comprehensive approach points to solutions in the near future.

The volatile board meetings of the past were gone this summer, as more collaborative approaches to various issues were worked out.

With a gentler vibe in the air, village leaders are seeking ways to build on the sense of community. Mayor Morgan said a planned movie night, with “Singin’ in the Rain” projected on the front of the Village Hall, had to be scrubbed this summer on account of rain.

“But we will definitely do it next summer,” Ms. Morgan said.

Former Village Clerk Carol Benedict Russell volunteered to organize “Scottish Games” on the grounds of the Village Hall.

This fall will bring more change as Richie Surozenski plans to retire in October from the role of Village Highway Superintendent  — his official title, along with countless other duties  — he has held for decades.

“I asked if he wanted to stay on to do some landscaping, perhaps,” the mayor said. “But he said, ‘Nope, I can’t stand to cut any more hedges!’”

SUSAN CAREY DEMPSEY Teddy, Ben and Will Jenkins with Mayor Morgan's daughter Sophie.
SUSAN CAREY DEMPSEY PHOTO Teddy, Ben and Will Jenkins with Mayor Morgan’s daughter Sophie.