Rethink Long Wharf
How wonderful that Long Wharf will revert to Village control. And thanks to the Sag Harbor Express for exhorting us to conceive of new and creative uses.
More than anything else I hope that the community will ponder what statement Long Wharf makes about Sag Harbor. Today, this best view in the Village is a parking lot.
I remember several years ago a member of Sag Harbor’s Chamber of Commerce telling me that “Sag Harbor is a walking village.” I beg to differ. I know many true walking communities and Sag Harbor is not one of them. Main Street has become a mall that people drive to, hoping for on-site parking. For its size and density remarkably few people actually walk or bike to or around town. Our school system has very low rates of walking and biking, which is especially surprising given Sag Harbor’s pre-car DNA.
The loss of a walking and biking culture is complex and the reasons varied. However it is true that a community makes a statement. If we focus on cars and parking we will have more cars and parking. When the renowned place-making expert Fred Kent visited Sag Harbor he said that the Village did not have a parking problem, it had a vision problem.
A simple example: Did anyone notice that when the new police station was built, the architect did not think to put in a connecting sidewalk? One must walk through a parking lot.
A simple observation: Why is it that Sag Harbor still does not charge for Main Street parking? Charged parking is universally more efficient with higher turnover. Great factoid: The free parking subsidy in the United States, i.e. the market value of non-charged parking, is greater than the annual cost of health care. We love our cars more than our bodies!
Let’s look at other communities that have successfully built or reclaimed a pedestrian ethos. Let’s each of us take a walk or a bike ride in and around the Village and see how it speaks to us.
Today’s Long Wharf looks like a parking lot at a mall, with pedestrians shunted to the edges – with no railing! When we consider Long Wharf’s future, let’s examine the many people-friendly examples of wharfs and piers around the world and make a bold statement about what kind of Village we are and want to be.
A Barrage of Noise
At the East Hampton Town Board work session last Tuesday, legal counsel hired by EH Town stated that the decision to direct all north/west helicopter traffic and most fixed wing traffic over the dangerous Jessup’s Neck/Power Line route was one of the town’s “accomplishments” of 2012. He called it “improved helicopter routing”.
Last July, EH Councilman Dominic Stanzione took the decision to eliminate incoming traffic from the Northwest route and direct incoming and outgoing traffic over a single route—Jessup’s Neck. He did so without informing Southampton or North Fork officials or even the four other elected members of his Town Board; then he publicly denied for months that he had made the decision, only to later publicly apologize to his colleagues on the board, admitting that he should have consulted them! This unjustifiable route change impacts many more residents than did the former northern incoming route, known as the over-the-water approach into the airport. The change was supported by the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and the East Hampton Aviation Assoc. In what can only be interpreted as a pre-election year peace offering to the suffering folk of Northwest, the EH Aviation Assoc even placed an advertisement in the East Hampton Star prior to the route change stating that peace and quiet was coming to Northwest. The credo of EH apparently is: Not In My Backyard and not in an election year for Councilman Stanzione.
Southampton and North Fork officials as well as county, state and federal representatives are vigorously encouraged to continue their efforts to ensure that routing of incoming and outgoing helicopter and fixed wing traffic over a single route is not in effect for the coming season. Until access restrictions are put into place to reduce the numbers of flights, the residents of Sag Harbor, Noyac and North Sea, as well as hundreds on the North Fork are bearing the brunt of the horrendous racket and pollution from East Hampton’s noisy airport operations. If the decision to change the route was so easy to make, it can be as easy to remedy. No single area should be subjected to such a barrage of noise and pollution from its neighbors.
Make Clear Airport Policy
To the Editor,
Those affected by airport noise supported the installation of a temporary seasonal air traffic control tower because we were told it would help control airport noise. We understood the tower’s primary purpose was to improve safety, but we were told that tower operators could distribute flights more equitably and direct aircraft to fly at altitudes that would diminish their noise impacts. Residents of Noyac, North Haven and Sag Harbor can reasonably assert that exactly the opposite has occurred.
Last Tuesday, the East Hampton Town Board heard from aviation attorney Peter Kirsch, who, as Councilwoman Quigley astutely pointed out, is devising a management plan for the airport without Town Board input on the matter. Supervisor Wilkinson publicly admonished airport liaison Councilman Stanzione, exerting his privilege as Supervisor by appointing the entire Town Board as airport liaison, a welcome change.
Returning guidance of this important town asset to the Town Board is an appropriate move on the Supervisor’s part. The Town Board was just as surprised as their constituents to learn that the consultants are now applying to the FAA to convert the temporary seasonal control tower into a permanent fixture at the airport. This without one measurable metric of how safety was improved or how noise was mitigated.
Who is responsible for this planning? I follow this issue carefully and this is the first time I’ve heard that the temporary seasonal control tower is to become permanent. The community was told that the control tower would operate for two years, an assessment of its efficacy in all applicable realms would be conducted and then further commitment to it would be reviewed.
The control tower costs over $400,000 annually to operate, redirecting airport revenues that might otherwise demonstrate financial sustainability. Financial independence for the airport also ensures the Town’s ability as proprietor to limit access to the airport by imposing curfews and hours of operation and limiting numbers and concentrations of flights, the only meaningful noise abatement tools.
Depleting airport revenues without clear documentation that such an expense addresses the pressing community need for noise abatement once again places airport interests ahead of the vast majority of East End residents.
Community character on the East End is defined by peace and quiet. Aircraft noise, especially that of helicopters, jets and seaplanes, is ruining the critical quality of life component that makes our real estate values among the highest in the nation.
The elected officials of the Town of East Hampton who understand and share those values must make policy about the airport, not a hired gun fronting for aviation interests.
Whaler Spirit is Alive in Sag Harbor
The Sag Harbor Booster Foundation would like to extend a special thank you to the following people: Kathleen Vila, Dawn Harvey, Kathy Zapolla, Stacey Britt, Fran Nill, Janice Arbia, Denise O’Brien, Security Staff at the High School, Eric Reynolds, Todd Gulluscio, Clint Schulman, Suzanne Nicoletti, Gavin Lahann, Frank at Conca D’oro, the Custodial Staff, and the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Sag Harbor Police Department who always support our students.
In January the Booster Foundation hosted the 2nd Annual Spirit Night, a fun family event at no cost to attend. Spectators filled the gym and got to listen to the beautiful voices of Pierson High School’s Chorus singing our National Anthem; listen to Pierson’s first ever Pep-Band; they got to witness the talent of Pierson’s very own Robotics team use their robot at half-time; and last but not least they got to watch our talented Varsity Basketball Team come away with a win. Later in January, the Sag Harbor Elementary School Small Chorus were incredible when they sang the National Anthem at a Girls Varsity Basketball Friday night game and our talented 6th Grade Girls youth travel team played a half-time game. It took the hands of many to make these nights happen and we appreciate each and every person that volunteered their time. Apologies if anyone is left out.
We also hosted our 2nd Annual Quiz Show and Fun’raiser on Saturday, February 9th at the Stella Maris Gym. The Booster Foundation is also excited to sponsor the Sag Harbor Elementary School Chorus to sing the National Anthem for opening day at the Long Island Ducks Stadium (April 28th). For more information on how you can help the Sag Harbor Booster Foundation please visit our website at www.sagharborboosterfoundation.org
For The Sag Harbor Booster Foundation
Remembering the Railroad
The Long Island Railroad years in Sag Harbor (1869-1939) will be the exhibit at the Sag Harbor Historical Society for the 2013 season. Our past exhibits of Trout Pond and Long Beach were successful because of old photos, documents, and great stories contributed by the public. (We scan and return your photos within a day or two.)
If you have or know of people who could help with any of these, please contact me, Jean Held 725-2690, or the Historical Society 725-5092. For example, if anyone knows of a photo of the beloved trolley’s conductor, that would be a real find; I know he had a handlebar mustache. Sometimes an old photo will have something in the background of interest. Check out your old photos and family memories. We hope to hear from you.
Sag Harbor Historical Society