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Dering Harbor hopefuls call for change

In tiny Dering Harbor, nestled on the north side of Shelter Island with about 30 homes on 200 acres, the two challengers vying for trustee seats say there is a need for more transparency and better communication in village government.

Patrick Parcells and Ari Benacerraf said Village Hall needs to improve the way it keeps year-round and summer residents informed of village matters, and add basic technology, such as a village website.

They are running against incumbents Linda Adams and Mary Walker. Walker declined to talk with Newsday. Adams could not be reached for comment.

Parcells, 61, a retired bank executive who lives in Manhattan, said he has owned land on Shelter Island for about 20 years, and 11 of those years in Dering Harbor Village. His property, he said, is about 10 percent of the village -- 20 acres that were once a private arboretum. Parcells said he has been able to make necessary renovations, but that the process is archaic and needs to be changed.

"There is very little transparency or accountability," he said. "The communication is very poor," whether about garbage pickup or building issues, he added, noting that there is no website to guide residents regarding village matters.

Benacerraf, 48, an investor, lives in the house once owned by his stepfather. He is running, he said, because he thinks it's time for others to step in and volunteer their time.

"This is, hopefully, an invitation for others to take their turn and rotate people to get different perspectives," he said.

Parcells pointed to the insular relationship between the different village boards and those who sit on them. On Shelter Island, one person can sit as a trustee, zoning board member and a planning board member.

"There are 19 board seats in the village, and eight people occupy all of them," Parcells said. "We will have a fresh set of eyes and talent, a new energy, and we will bring technology to the village that doesn't exist today."

Mayor Timothy Hogue is unopposed for his two-year term.

Voting is Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall.

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