Southold Town Hall is usually a pretty quiet place.
Southold Town Hall is usually a pretty quiet place.

Before the North Fork was wine country, it was potato country, and while there are few potato farmers working now, one of the largest potato farms left could soon be preserved forever.

The Southold Town Board will hold a public hearing at their 4:30 p.m. meeting July 14 on whether to purchase the development rights on 54 acres of a 61 acre farm owned by the Sidor family’s North Fork Potato Chips.

The farm, which sits along the scenic farmland corridor of Oregon Road in Mattituck, is smack in the middle of some of the most prized and protected farmland on the North Fork.

The town plans to purchase the development rights easement for $65,000 per acre using money from the Community Preservation Fund.

This proposal comes on the heels two weeks ago of Southold’s application to New York State for the 13th round of state farmland protection implementation grants, a program that has historically been quite supportive of Southold’s farmland preservation efforts. The state currently has just over $20 million available through the competitive grant program.

On the Courts

When Southold Town created the position of Justice Court Director earlier this spring after a court clerk, Christine Stulsky, was allegedly found to have been stealing large amounts of money for pet food and cigarettes, they encountered a problem often found when trying to find someone to fill niche positions on the East End: no one on the Civil Service list wanted to work for the salary they offered.

The Southold Town Board agreed to up the starting salary for the position from $63,000 to $80,000 per year at their meeting Tuesday night, but after a local newspaper took them to task ahead of the meeting for the pay increase, a few people who live in town were none-too-happy.

Linda Goldsmith of East Marion said she’d spoken to Civil Service representatives who’ve told her the only civil service list for the position expired in 2010.

Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the town canvased the list they were given by Civil Service, and suggested Ms. Goldsmith ask Civil Service to clarify what happened.

“We tried to generate interest at a lower salary,” he said.

“It’s hard for me to believe that an entry level person with a GED would make $80,000 per year,” she countered.

Jill Franke of Southold said her mother had worked for the town for 52 years, doing everything that a Justice Court Director would do, for less than $60,000 per year.

“I know someone who works in the court now who would take the job, and they’re nowhere near making $60,000,” she said, adding that she had fought with the town for six months to get a moment of silence at a town board meeting when her mother died, and no one from town hall came to her mother’s funeral.

“I think it’s disgusting and I’m ashamed to live in Southold,” she said.

Perpetual town board critic Benja Schwartz also chimed in, but he said he was tired from working all day and wasn’t fully prepared for the meeting.

He asked why the director would make more money than the $67,000 salaries of the town’s judges and asked why one of the current court clerks couldn’t be reassigned to the director position.

Mr. Russell said the director would work full-time while the justices only work part-time, and Civil Service dictates a unique set of requirements for  a Justice Court Director title.

“There are a unique set of circumstances there that need to be addressed affirmatively by this town,” he said.

Getting Ready for the 375th

The following historical-minded folks have volunteered to help plan Southold’s 375th Anniversary celebration next year: Chairman Herbert Adler, Jim Grathwohl of Cutchogue, Norm Wamback of Mattituck, Nick Planamento, Daniel McCarthy and Peggy Murphy of Southold, Gail Horton of Greenport and Ruth Bramson of East Marion.

Get in touch with them if you want to help out!

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

3 thoughts on “Southold Likes Farms, Court Directors

  1. I am unfairly characterized in this article as a
    >> Perpetual town board critic
    The description is unfair since it is completely one sided. If there was anyone else thinking critically I would not have to offer as much constructive criticism as I do. I offer more suggestions than complaints.

    >> Critical thinking is the study of clear and unclear thinking… One sense of the term critical means “crucial” or “highly important”; a second sense … means “able to discern”
    <> When Southold Town created the position of Justice Court Director earlier this spring after a court clerk, Christine Stulsky, was allegedly found to have been stealing large amounts of money for pet food and cigarettes, they encountered a problem often found when trying to find someone to fill niche positions on the East End: no one on the Civil Service list wanted to work for the salary they offered.

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