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A Toast to Outdoor Dining

Posted on 29 May 2009

From Albany to Southampton Town, municipal finances are in dire straits and with available funds shrinking by the second, it is rare to find a piece of legislation that stimulates a local economy and costs the government next to nothing.

The town board has successfully struck this balance by passing legislation to allow outdoor dining in the hamlets of Bridgehampton and Water Mill. It’s already popular in Southampton and Sag Harbor villages and is bringing welcome life to Main Street in the evening. We commend council members Nancy Graboski and Chris Nuzzi for hitting the streets and actually listening to the suggestions of local business owners, who say their business abounds from setting up outdoor seating.

Often times, town decisions are made behind the desk and local officials rarely learn of the exact effect their verdicts have unless it is brought to their attention at town board meetings or at local Citizen Advisory Committee gatherings. Graboski, in particular, shows true initiative for learning how the town decisions can impact the daily lives of town residents and visitors. When lobbying the town to pass Dark Skies legislation, Graboski visited various lampposts throughout the town, including one in front of the Whaling Museum in Sag Harbor, to see how lighting, which reduces glare, benefited local neighborhoods. This past Saturday, Graboski was outside on the streets of Southampton taking pictures of outdoor dining, seeing the town’s future plans in action.

Like the endless outdoor cafes found on the ancient streets of Europe, outdoor seating in our area will invite both tourists and locals to sit down and share a cup of coffee, glass of wine or spring for an entire meal. Not only does it promote restaurant patronage, but it adds to the communal and open feeling of the streets, giving them a much needed shot of life. 

We also would like to encourage more outdoor dining venues on Sag Harbor’s streets. Sag Harbor is a vibrant and exciting place to be on summer evenings, largely because of the establishments that do serve customers on the street — we can only see this as a good thing, both for owners of Main Street establishments and their customers who are looking for a little R&R during these troubled economic times.

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