Village of Head of the Harbor welcomes new trustees

Village of Head of the Harbor welcomes new trustees

Mike Utevsky, left, Lisa Davidson, center and Judy Ogden. Photo courtesy Judy Ogden

By Sabrina Artusa

Village of Head of the Harbor has inducted Mayor Mike Utevsky, trustee Lisa Davidson and incumbent trustee Judith Ogden to its Board of Trustees. 

Utevsky unseated the previous mayor, Doug Dahlgard, who had occupied the position for 10 years. All three members are on the Heritage Party line, a party whose principal approach to governance is preservation.

A real estate attorney who hasn’t run for office before, Utevsky said he decided to run after noticing the desire of other residents for a change. Indeed, Dahlgard and his board experienced pushback after a vote allowing a monastery to build a church on a historically significant property.

As a resident who regularly attended board meetings, Utevsky said, “When [the citizens] made comments … we were met generally with stony silence.”

Davidson, a retired television producer, echoed this sentiment, and expanded on her desire to represent the people of Head of the Harbor “It was purely my wish that the village government should be more inclusive,” she said. “I ran so that governance is kind.”

The three inductees emphasize transparency and revived vigor for code enforcement as guiding values for their term.

“Preservation, natural resources, code enforcement and understanding policy — those are the key pieces,” Ogden said.

One of the primary concerns of the new administration is reopening one of the three access points to Stony Brook Harbor and making the area more accessible for people to enjoy. Currently, there is one road available to lead to the harbor, which according to Davidson has limited parking and accessibility. The new administration is confident that at least one of these access points will be restored.

“If everything goes according to plan, we will have no additional docks in the harbor, people will not be clearing the trees and the buffers will be remediated and the access points will be reopened,” Davidson said. “The village will look as it does now, but better.”

Utevsky said of the subject, “It won’t be easy – there are many legal and practical issues – but it is very important to many residents of the community.”

The mayor also said that he plans to be vigilant with new construction and development, and wants to improve the village while still being cognizant of how it will affect existing housing and landscapes. 

“I don’t want us to turn into another overbuilt suburb. That doesn’t mean abandoning all construction, it means well-considered design that works well with the existing historical fabric of the village,” he said.

Development has been a frequent subject of contention in Head of the Harbor and neighboring municipalities. As a member of the Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, Ogden has advocated for the preservation of Flowerfield Fairgrounds and its release from a subdivision proposal that many citizens deem excessive.

In addition to being an incumbent trustee and coalition member, Ogden is also a landscaper and wants to be reinstated as highway commissioner. In the pursuit of transparency, Ogden intends to organize a newsletter, an endeavor she hopes will foster communication not only between administration and constituents but also among bodies of governance.

“I think there will be more communication among the departments rather than it coming from one person and one perspective,” she said. “The village does not operate because of one person, there are many that make it happen.”

Deer population control is another concern of the mayor who, in the name of preservation and safety, wants to implement a solution. 

Utevsky acknowledged that a lot has to be done to create change, but was eager to start. “We would like to revive a spirit of community in the village,” he said.

The next public trustee meeting will be held Wednesday, April 17.

**Amendment made – 04/17/2024 – “Utevsky usurped the previous mayor, Doug Dahlgard, […]” the incorrect use of verbiage was changed from usurped to unseated.