Historic Preservation Commission
Unlike most of the paid administrative positions associated with the various boards and committees of Southold Town, the position of Application Coordinator for the Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is unique.
The HPC consists of a group of volunteers charged with preserving our rich history here in Southold Town. However, due to changes in town law in 2007, the group was given additional authority with jurisdiction over 200+ properties in Southold Town that are recognized as historic landmarks, not only on the local level, but in most cases on the state and national level as well.
As such, the position of Application Coordinator to this very important town commission is more than just one of secretarial work. This position, which Damon has held since 2007, is an integral part of the building, zoning, and planning process of Southold Town. Damon's intimate knowledge of the town code made him particularly qualified for the position.
Damon guided the group as they fought tirelessly against Supervisor Scott Russell's plan to amend Chapter 170 and allow for a cell tower to be erected in the Southold Town Historic District. That legislation was ultimately scrapped after fierce opposition from the commission.
In addition to his administrative duties, Damon has been appointed to this position each year since 2007 to act as policy and code adviser, the commission's liaison to the Southold Town Building Department, and the building department's in-house expert on Chapter 170 (Historic Preservation) of the Southold Town Code.
In October 2018, Damon resigned from this position feeling frustrated with the Town of Southold and the all-Republican town board's refusal to take seriously the position, the commission, and historic preservation overall.
The Committee to Save Sacred Heart
Damon Rallis was a founding member of the now-defunct Committee to Save Sacred Heart.
In late 2012, in response to the historic Sacred Heart Church being vacated and its church properties being placed on the market, a group of individuals, comprised of parish members, members of the Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission, the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council, and numerous area residents, came to the table to form the Committee to Save Sacred Heart.
Damon was asked to join the committee because of his commitment to historic preservation, his institutional knowledge of the Southold Town Code, his work as Administrative Assistant to the Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission, and his personal connection to Sacred Heart -- as an alumnus of Sacred Heart Elementary School (now known as Our Lady of Mercy), in Cutchogue.
The Committee to Save Sacred Heart pooled its resources and explored every option to preserve the character of downtown Cutchogue by looking for creative ways to ensure that this historic church building was not bulldozed to make way for houses. Over time, news broke of even more historic churches being closed and placed on the market.
The Sacred Heart Committee expressed the urgency of this situation and, as a result, the town took action.
On March 24th, 2015, the Southold Town Board passed a local law entitled, "Historic Preservation Districts," which expands the permitted use options for existing community structures, such as churches, and preserves their historic integrity for generations to come.
Although the Committee to Save Sacred Heart is essentially defunct, they lobbied the town to take this situation seriously and worked closely with town officials to ensure that there was a mechanism in place to preserve these local gems.
Want to Know More?
Check out some of the other community organizations that Damon is involved in.