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Price of Popularity

Posted on 07 May 2008

We wanted to follow up on last week’s discussion about the future of Sag Harbor. We note here that this week the Village of Sag Harbor is about to begin rolling out its much-anticipated revision to the zoning code. This is, we hear, an expansive rewriting of the volume that dictates much of what the village looks like and how real estate in the commercial district is used. It will, say its authors, go a long way to addressing some of the development pressures facing the village. The thought here is that chain drug stores, high end clothing stores and other businesses that may change forever the streetscape of the village may already be planning to storm our gates.

While this may be true — and frankly, we believe it to be — what needs to be addressed if we choose to try to direct the village’s future goes well beyond Sag Harbor’s Main Street.

The Trust, perhaps used to working with communities that don’t enjoy the same prosperity as we do, seemed to focus more on what types of economic development programs could be instituted here. Sag Harbor, ironically, is suffering instead from its own popularity; but what is resulting from that is a kind of divided economy, and more importantly — and what the Trust and its kind can probably not help out with — a divided residential population. Each of these groups has its own set of goals, and expectations — and unfortunately, they are mutually exclusive.

As discussions continue about the direction Main Street does take, we hope that they will include ways to keep Main Street a place of commerce for those who need to shop here, rather than only those who choose to shop here. There needs to be attention paid to keeping an economy that is not only robust, but affordable to that segment of the community that struggles to make ends meet; who even now finds itself traveling out of town because the prices here have gotten too high to manage.

While we work to keep Main Street beautiful and vibrant, it is easy to forget those who don’t always have the wherewithal to enjoy the village’s newfound popularity.


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