Jeff Peters, who sits on the village’s Harbor Committee, has brought up something we feel is well worth discussing. And, in fact, we have — here in this very space — that’s the idea of creating a formal committee to start getting proactive about Long Wharf.
It’s officially ours now, after all, and like any responsible property owner, it’s probably time we start taking that ownership seriously.
Beyond what we’ve suggested in this space before, which starts with setting aside a Long Wharf rainy day fund through whatever means (and income) the wharf can generate, we should also talk about addressing the functionality of our new acquisition. The former proposal is so that the village is prepared when the much needed (and inevitable) repairs come due, while the latter is to ensure the village doesn’t get sued when a pedestrian either falls off the unguarded edge of the wharf or gets run over by a Mercedes backing up from a spot far too quickly.
We’ve already made our point on the need to establish the fund, so let’s talk about the functionality.
Long Wharf as designed is a pedestrian nightmare. Car is king on this stretch of asphalt, and those on foot are left to maneuver the wharf using one of two unacceptable alternatives — tight roping the edge or walking in the middle of the traffic that’s coming and going. Not such a big deal on a day like today — but a disaster waiting to happen on a busy and fun-packed summer night. These issues of safety also tie in with liability and it’s critical the village makes sure its insurance policy is upgraded to the point that is needed.
Better yet, let’s take up the mantle for Peters’ idea and organize a committee, one made up of members from all the village’s boards, to get creative about upgrading the wharf and improving the way it works, both from a liability standpoint for Sag Harbor and the enjoyment factor for those who want to use it. Green space, lighting, and a guardrail could go a long way toward making us happy. Right now, it’s a piece of asphalt that could be better utilized. Ignoring the opportunity to rethink what we can do there is a missed opportunity.
We understand there is a lot else on the village’s plate right now — including a remediation effort at Haven’s Beach and a recently finished bulkhead project along West Water Street (to say nothing of the stalled negotiations over the police contract — but that’s another editorial). But we feel that the village should get moving on this issue as well. Because we’re afraid that if we shelve planning for the safety needs of the wharf for another year, we may be forced to deal with it unexpectedly as the result of something negative occurring on Long Wharf. We would also be turning our back on an under utilized, highly visible facility in Sag Harbor that could easily be incorporated more comprehensively into our downtown aesthetic.