In Conversation with Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore

Mayor Maria Moore at her first Board meeting, Photo: Courtesy Moore
Mayor Maria Moore at her first Board meeting, Photo: Courtesy Moore

Following the installation of the military appreciation park and replacement of bulkhead at the marina, the creation of Glover’s Park and the recent completion of a major Main Street renovation project, all accomplished during her first six years in office, Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore has been re-elected to help bring the village two more years of progress and growth.

“The thing that’s really amazing about the village is that we have trustees and especially a mayor who are just amazing and have done a terrific job in terms of developing and bringing up Westhampton Beach. The WHB Renovation Project has really changed Westhampton,” says Salt & Loft owner Barry Bernstein. “The trustees and the mayor have done a tremendous job to make Westhampton Beach progressive and really the best part of the Hamptons.”

Mayor Moore discusses what make Westhampton Beach unique, what programs have been put in place to help residents during the pandemic and what she foresees when looking ahead to the fall and her next term in office.

As one of the few Suffolk County villages praised by Governor Andrew Cuomo and County Executive Steve Bellone for a strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines, what sets WHB apart in terms of leadership and community compliance?

The Board of Trustees was aware of the need to support our local organizations during the pandemic. We also recognized the importance of providing some relief for our residents in the form of outdoor entertainment during this trying time.

It is for that reason that the Board worked collaboratively with the conscientious organizers of two events to establish event protocols for the safety of the community and its residents while providing a venue for fundraising to occur. We were careful to ensure that the event safety protocols fully complied with the Governor’s guidelines, and our police chief and his officers were onsite to ensure that order was maintained. Those in attendance were grateful for the opportunity and willingly complied with all the rules.

Since March, all of the East End supervisors and mayors have had regular meetings to share ideas on how best to deal with issues created by the pandemic, and until recently every mayor and supervisor in Suffolk County participated in daily meetings led by our county executive, Steve Bellone, for information and guidance. So yes, I received a much appreciated shout-out from the governor, but all the leaders in our county have worked tirelessly to protect our communities and are deserving of recognition.

How have village initiatives and programs aided WHB businesses and families during this difficult time?

The most important thing the village has done is to provide the framework within which individual businesses and families can thrive in a healthy productive collaborative community. The village was able to complete the Main Street project in May, despite the pandemic, and people have welcomed the ability to stroll along the newly renovated street and visit the shops and restaurants. The Board of Trustees approved expanded outdoor dining that allowed for the restaurants to provide additional seating for their patrons. We were able to open our beaches on a limited basis, and those have been greatly enjoyed by many. Good-natured signs have been posted at the beaches and throughout the village reminding all to comply with the safety restrictions. For example, “You can expect some pretty weird tan lines this summer, thank you for wearing your mask,” and “Have a great day, just don’t let us see your smile.”

Westhampton Beach Main Street in September 2019 (L) and in September 2020 (R), Photos: David Taylor, Barbara Lassen

In what ways have you seen the WHB community come together in support of each other during the pandemic?

The residents of the village and our business establishments place a premium on safety and have willingly complied with the COVID-related restrictions of mask wearing and social distancing. The Westhampton Beach faith community has served as a bedrock that provides both spiritual and emotional support in times of stress. Together with charitable organizations, and including outreach by our trustee Brian Tymann, the residents of the Greater Westhampton Beach community have been well cared for with food, supplies and kindness.

None of us really know the long-term health effects of COVID-19. The immediate and acute consequences have been recorded, but only time will tell the broader chronic impacts that may manifest later. When we accept that there is a lot we do not know, it is easier to be more cautious while still going about our daily lives.

What would you say is the WHB community’s general outlook as we move into the fall?

This has been a challenging year during which every resident has had to adjust, and I am proud of our community for the way it has pulled together. As we move into the fall, residents and visitors alike can count on the Village of Westhampton Beach to remain a refuge from the noise and distractions that seem to fill our days. It is a great time of year for people and pets to enjoy wholesome walks on our ocean beaches and visit our newly renovated Main Street.

What can visitors to WHB look forward to this fall?

Due to the COVID-related gathering restrictions, it is not likely that the Village will be hosting events this fall, but our Main Street is as vibrant as ever. The shops and restaurants remain open, with expanded outdoor dining in place. Virtual programming is being provided by our exceptional Westhampton Free Library and the village’s jewel of a performing arts center [WHBPAC].

What is your personal outlook as you look ahead to your next term in office?

I can honestly say that serving the village as its mayor is a privilege for which I am grateful every day. I am looking forward to the next two years of working with our four dedicated trustees—Ralph Urban, Rob Rubio, Brian Tymann and Stephen Frano—and the hard-working employees and appointed board members who make up our village government. I am pleased with the progress the Board has made for our village over the past six years, particularly with both remedial and critical infrastructure projects including the renovation of Main Street with new storm drains, underground utilities and pedestrian safety and environmental features; as well as the replacement of bulkhead at the marina, installation of the military appreciation park at the marina, restoration of the gazebo at the Village Green and the creation of Glover’s Park. With the team still in place, we anticipate delivering more of the same.

After years of planning, studies and engineering, the village is ready to move forward with its sewer project. The Notice to Bidders is out; the bids are due on October 8; and we expect to break ground on the project in January 2021. Working collaboratively with Suffolk County, we have arranged to connect to the county’s sewer treatment plant located at Gabreski Airport, furthering the state’s goal of shared services. We are appreciative of the funding and support we have received from New York State, Suffolk County and Southampton Town. This long-awaited project will eliminate 5,000 pounds of nitrogen each year from our bay and will alleviate some of the restrictions on our downtown, allowing for a small boutique hotel, apartments above the shops and expanded dining opportunities.

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