Denis Noncarrow has a long history with the Town of Southold. He was chairman the town’s Republican Party for four years before stepping down in 2012 and currently serves as president of Community Action Southold Town.
And last week, that relationship went one step further. Last Tuesday, Mr. Noncarrow was approved as Southold’s new government liaison officer, a new position that, among other things, incorporates many duties that were previously performed by Phillip Beltz, who retired last summer as the town’s special projects coordinator.
Mr. Noncarrow, who has recently been working as a service writer for Suffolk County, said he’s excited to take on the new position and once again focus his efforts on Southold.
“I really wanted to get back working with the people of Southold,” he said. “The [job’s] task and what I know combined would work well together.”
As government liaison officer, Mr. Noncarrow will be tasked with economic development and community outreach, including through social media and digital platforms.
He will also lead the town’s efforts to develop affordable housing — an area in which Mr. Noncarrow, who helped open a homeless shelter in Nassau County and has worked with CAST for 10 years, said he has plenty of experience.
“[Affordable housing] is absolutely necessary in Southold,” he said. “We’re going to have to put 100 percent effort into getting over these hurdles and getting this done.”
His initial goal is to create 50 affordable apartments, though he said that is just a start.
Mr. Noncarrow acknowledged that some efforts to expand housing have stalled due to community fears about development, but he said the town could address some of those concerns by spreading projects out across the entire town rather than concentrating building in one area.
“The most important word in this whole thing is ‘collaboration,’ ” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing when everybody gets together.”
The new government liaison officer pointed to young families just starting out as especially in need of homes and apartments that are within their means.
“You hate to hear the stories of the people that just can’t keep going,” he said. “On younger families, it’s tough enough to get by, but to find affordable housing is impossible these days. And a lot of times if they just get that stepping stone, that little bit of help to get their family situated and have it affordable for a little bit of time, they can get going from there.”
The hiring did not come without controversy. Southold Town Democratic Committee chairman Art Tillman expressed concern in a letter to the editor of The Suffolk Times that Mr. Noncarrow was hired without an interview.
“In many companies and in government the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission closely monitors hiring practices to give all a fair opportunity at employment,” Mr. Tillman wrote. “The ‘we know him’ process of hiring is the major cause of employment discrimination in this country and is often against the law.”
Despite the criticism, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell praised Mr. Noncarrow’s résumé, particularly his work with CAST. Although Mr. Noncarrow has been involved with local politics for several years during his time as Republican chairman, Mr. Russell said he sees no conflict about the hiring.
“I think people should compare their own track records to his track record with regard to this community before they cast any stones,” said Mr. Russell, who added that he was chosen among 15 candidates. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for the Town Board to select a known quantity that we’re familiar with.”
Photo: Denis Noncarrow, Southold Town’s new government liaison officer, at a 50th-anniversary event for Community Action Southold Town last September. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)