Editor’s note: All week long, Brittany Wait is profiling people around Sea Cliff, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.
I met with both Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, 47, and Deputy Mayor Carol Vogt, 69, at Sea Cliff Bagel Cafe on the Shore, off The Boulevard in Sea Cliff on Monday. We watched youngsters learn how to sail and others paddle their way to shore to bathe in the sun at Sea Cliff Beach.
Kennedy, who was elected mayor in 2009 and is now serving his second term, also owns Gold Coast Window Fashions on Roslyn Avenue in Sea Cliff.
Community affiliations: Board of directors for Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.
What initially brought you here and what has kept you here?
I used to live in Locust Valley, but there was no sense of community there. I used to ride a motorcycle and joined a motorcycle club that met at Sea Cliff on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Once you’re here [Sea Cliff], you felt welcomed. We decided to move to Sea Cliff 18 years ago.
When you first moved here, what was most notable about the community?
Sea Cliff is not a pass-through, it’s a destination. It’s really off the beaten path. And one of the things I love most about this place is that residents don’t complain about the mess in the parks, they just clean it up. We have everything here all squished into one square mile. We have multimillion dollar houses, historic landmarks and $1,000 apartments for young people to live in. I’ve always wanted to be near the water. You ask yourself, “Are you in Sea Cliff, or is Sea Cliff in you?”
What does the community have to offer?
I think we are the most artistic community. We have painters, sculptors and musicians. We embrace the arts and have encouraged the arts for years. We have Friday night live performances and plays at the arts gazebo. We have a center, downtown, beach and a community that wants to be involved and do their part.
What challenges do you think the community faces?
The biggest thing is fiscal. There was a time when the village could count on funding from the county, state and federal governments. All those resources have dried up and our costs are going up. We also have the Long Island Power Authority issue to deal with. The powerplant in Glenwood Landing brings $14 million to the school district in revenue. It’s going to close and if that revenue dries up, it’s going to be devastating to taxpayers.
How is business?
Businesses have always come and gone in Sea Cliff and very few have survived the test of time. Businesses in Sea Cliff, historically, have a rough time and they’re going to continue to do so. We need more sustainable businesses. We rarely have vacancies, though. When people leave, others take their place. Sea Cliff Sushi, across from the Main Library, will be opening this week.
Define the character of the community.
It’s a progressive community that celebrates its roots.