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New chairperson to be appointed to Board of Architectural and Historic Review this evening

Village by: Chrissy Ruggeri, April 18, 2023

At tonight’s Northport Village Board of Trustees meeting, there will be a vote to appoint resident Susan Suvall as Chairperson of the Board of Architectural and Historic Review.

At tonight’s Northport Village Board of Trustees meeting, there will be a vote to appoint resident Susan Suvall as Chairperson of the Board of Architectural and Historic Review. Suvall and resident Mary Silberstein were approved as the newest “Archies” board members at the May 4 organizational meeting, each for a three-year term.

The Board of Architectural and Historic Review (also known as Archies) is charged with the protection and enhancement of the historic, architectural and cultural character of both commercial and institutional structures in the Village.

According to the Northport Village website, “all businesses and institutions planning new buildings or signage, or wishing to make changes to existing exteriors and signage, must apply for Archies review.” This review process includes signage, awnings, façade changes, including color changes, and demolition. Exterior changes to structures located in a historic area must also undergo review by the board.

At the May 4 meeting, Mayor Donna Koch noted, when asked, that Suvall and Silberstein were chosen because they expressed interest in joining the committee; their qualifications to take such a position, however, were not discussed by the board or presented to the public.

Both Suvall and Silberstein are regular attendees of Village board meetings and, over the past year, have voiced their opinions on several projects through public participation statements, indicating their perspective on matters related to Village development, public events and businesses.

Suvall and Silberstein both made public statements in favor of banning business sidewalk signs during the Village’s many discussions on the subject. At the September 6 board meeting, Suvall proposed fining businesses in violation of street sign laws and at the November 1 public hearing on a proposed law to ban sidewalk signs, said that because of the Village’s narrow sidewalks, “something has to give.”

“You can’t have planters, and you can’t have tables, and you can’t have roots on the trees…,” she said, adding that it has become unsafe to walk the sidewalks when people are forced into the streets. She added that in 2023, codes needed to change because “we can’t have everything.”

Silberstein has also voiced her concerns about the safety of walking the streets of downtown Northport, with chairs, tables and signage acting as obstructions for pedestrians. At the August 9 board meeting, she called for members of the Chamber of Commerce to enact stricter compliance of safety laws in the Village code. “I find that as days go by in this village, my safety is at risk. I can no longer come down to this Village comfortably and go shopping, and go eating, because of what exists on the sidewalks,” she said at the sidewalk sign public hearing.

Suvall has also publicly opposed the Basketball Court Revitalization Project in Cow Harbor Park. At the July 12 public hearing on the project at the American Legion, Suvall was among a handful of residents who proposed moving the project to Steers Park in order to preserve the beauty of Cow Harbor Park. “I haven’t been here for decades, but I came here because I love the charm of Northport,” she said, adding that she rarely sees anyone playing on the existing courts and doesn’t think that the project is appropriate for that area. Suvall spoke on the subject again at the January 3 meeting, when the project was going out to bid, expressing her disappointment in the decision to move forward and stating that the project was misrepresented to those who donated to it.

More recently, Silberstein made a public statement at the March 7 board meeting in regards to allowing the Northport Arts Coalition to continue its summer concert series in Northport Village Park on Friday nights, at the gazebo. “The thing that really bothers me about this discussion,” she said, “is that there are some on the board that think about this rationally, but others who say: ‘We want more and more and more. We want more people in the park, we want more people to come to Northport.’ There really does need to be a concern.” Silberstein noted issues related to policing, parking, and overcrowding in general in the Village. “It is not okay what is going on,” she said.

According to the agenda, a resolution to appoint Susan Suvall as Chairperson of the Board of Architectural and Historic Review will be presented at this evening’s board of trustees meeting, at Northport Village Hall at 6pm.