When Belle Terre officials proposed restoring the village’s historic Gatehouse in 2008, they received an estimate saying the project would cost about $1 million, Mayor Ted Lucki said last week.
Officials and residents of the small, affluent North Shore village in Brookhaven Town thought they could do better, Lucki said.
Lucki, who is stepping down on Thursday, June 30, after 12 years as mayor of the exclusive enclave, said residents banded together to plan, design and refurbish the crumbling structure, which serves as Belle Terre’s Village Hall.
The final cost: $200,000.
That kind of community cooperation is what Lucki said he enjoyed during his 14 years on the village board, including two years as a trustee.
“For me, that’s fun,” Lucki, 62, said Friday during an interview at his office in the restored Gatehouse. “Anybody can spend money.”
Lucki (pronounced LOOS-kee) said he decided not to seek re-election because “it’s time for other people to step up.” Trustee Robert Sandak, running unopposed, won a two-year term on June 21 to succeed Lucki.
Trustee Sheila Knapp was elected to a new two-year term, and newcomer Jacquelyn Gernaey was elected to take Sandak’s trustee seat. Knapp and Gernaey both ran unopposed.
Belle Terre, only 1 square mile in size, is one of Long Island’s smallest villages, with about 1,000 residents and no businesses. The village is a mix of suburban homes and lavish mansions, many on bluffs overlooking Long Island Sound and Port Jefferson Harbor.
Lucki, a gregarious Buffalo native, moved to Belle Terre in 1980 after marrying. His wife, Lori, is a village native. The part-time mayor also owns Riverhead Toyota.
The village has been relatively free of controversy under his watch, though the community continues to grapple with a deer population that some residents say is out of control. The village board last year rejected a plan to allow bow hunting to thin the herd, and officials are considering hiring a contractor to count the deer, to settle disputes over how many are in the village, Lucki said.
Sandak, 71, a retired school district administrator, said he plans to emphasize safety and security issues when he takes office July 1. He said Lucki often pitched project proposals to residents by organizing dinner parties at which presentations were made and discussed.
“Ted was fantastic as mayor,” Sandak said in a telephone interview. “During his time as mayor, he did an enormous amount to improve the beauty and quality of life in the community.”
Lucki said he focused on rebuilding Belle Terre while using as little taxpayer money as possible. In addition to restoring the Gatehouse, officials took steps to stem erosion at the village beach and build a cellphone tower.
“I’ve always tried to have a project going while we’re doing our day-to-day village work,” he said.
He said he plans to teach college courses in marketing and business, and remain active in village affairs.
“You have to listen to people,” Lucki said of his leadership style. “You can’t make judgments.”
Mayor Ted Lucki counts these among his top accomplishments as mayor of Belle Terre:
- Restoration of the Gatehouse, the century-old building that serves as Belle Terre’s Village Hall.
- Installation of vinyl barrier to mitigate erosion at the village beach.
- Construction of cell tower to improve mobile telephone reception in Belle Terre and neighboring communities.