Sean Kenna, left, and Robert Manolio opened Cucina 25 in February 2017. Photo: Peter Blasl

The Riverhead BID Management Association has a new president.

Steven Shauger, who has served the nonprofit organization as its president since 2016, resigned last week. He is succeeded in the post by Sean Kenna, owner of Main Street restaurants Cucina 25 and Craft’d. 

Shauger will remain on the BIDMA board for another month to “help with onboarding the new president,” he said.

Kenna was elected last Wednesday to serve as interim president until the BIDMA’s annual election in June. He defeated BIDMA Vice President Lisa Pickersgill, owner of Robert James Salon, who also sought election to the interim post.

Kenna has been a member of the BIDMA board for seven years. He and a partner opened Cucina 25, a pizzeria and Italian restaurant at 12 West Main St. in February 2017. They opened Craft’d, a restaurant featuring craft cocktails, craft beer and small plates, in the summer of 2019 at 127 East Main St. 

In addition to running his businesses and serving on the BIDMA board, Kenna coaches boys lacrosse at Riverhead High School.

He said in a phone interview prior to the election he is excited to expand his role in the group, which he has enjoyed working with.

“I believe in the mission to advance downtown and I look forward to continuing the progress we’ve made,” Kenna said in a statement in a press release emailed to RiverheadLOCAL by BIDMA Executive Director Kristy Verity last night. “I am proud of downtown Riverhead and aspire to be an active stakeholder and president of the district I’m invested in,” Kenna said.

“It has been an honor to be part of the initiatives that have made a lasting impact on the vibrancy and growth of our downtown,” Shauger said in the press release. “I believe in the success of the organization and trust that the board will continue to thrive under new leadership,” he said.

As previously reported here, Shauger told the BIDMA board a few months ago he intended to step down as president this spring. In an email to the board, a copy of which Shauger provided to a reporter, he cited family and his own career as his impetus for the decision. 

“I have found myself at a point in my life where I need to adjust my priorities to better focus on my family and career,” Shauger wrote in the email to fellow board members.

Shauger is the director of operations at the Hyatt Place East End and the Preston House and Hotel.

Town Board members during the board’s Feb. 29 work session made the impending change at the helm of the group public.

At that time, Council Member Bob Kern, Town Board liaison to the BIDMA, and Supervisor Tim Hubbard both said Shauger and Verity would be leaving their positions with the BIDMA.

Verity did not respond to a phone message seeking comment after the work session. Shauger told a reporter that Verity was traveling and had not officially given the BIDMA board notice of resignation. The organization was “working through administrative and board details to gauge the direction of the BIDMA and its employees.”

Verity has held the BIDMA executive director position since July 2019.  

The BID, formally the Riverhead Business Improvement District, is a special tax district governed by the Town Board. Properties within the district are assessed a tax to be used to improve and promote the downtown district. The town enters into a contract with the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association, known as the BIDMA,  a nonprofit whose volunteer board of directors are district property owners, tenants, and one resident. The BIDMA currently employs an executive director, executive assistant, and downtown ambassador to oversee day-to-day operations. 

The taxes collected in the district fund the operations of the BIDMA, whose responsibilities and duties are spelled out by contract. The Town Board approves the contract as well as the BIDMA’s budget and calendar of events.

Clarification: This article previously stated that former BID President Steven Shauger is staying on as a member of the BID board of directors. It has been amended to reflect that he is staying on for only one month, to assist the interim president in his new role.

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