Dear Mr. Boyhan,
I attended the public hearing Tuesday night on the proposed passenger ferry between Sag Harbor and Greenport. Many people raised serious questions about more congested traffic, less parking spaces, where the ferry would be re-fueled, more pollution in the air and water with seven to nine ferries a day and shuttle buses taking people to/from Long Wharf, how to monitor the results as the summer progresses and what the actual benefit to Sag Harbor would be. To these questions, and many others, the Village Board of Trustees did not have an answer.
However, my main concern is that the Board of Trustees is planning to break/change an existing law without following procedure, without getting input from the Planning Board, the Zoning Board and other groups that are usually consulted in the process of vetting a new business venture. There should be much more thought put into this. There should be much more public discussion.
Two very bad precedents are being set: 1. the Board of Trustees is bypassing a law in place, by allowing a ferry service to be established and 2. the Board of Trustees is ignoring established procedures to review any changes in law.
If the “no-ferry” law is ignored because it is deemed inconvenient, what law will be next?
A Few Words
A word to the wise and (so as not to discriminate) to the foolish, the unseeing, the hard of hearing and understanding.
Re: Vered’s “Legs” – to some a work of art, to others a fetish and, to the Village authorities, a structure, even though attached to the residence. How about village residents who have flagpoles similarly attached to their houses and flying “old glory?” Why does “Legs” need permits, variance, set backs, what have you, and the latter does not (so far as I know)? Maybe Vered should have attached “old glory” to “Legs” thus transforming it into a “patriotic work of art.” Maybe this should end the controversy with the village board.
Re: Greenport-Sag Harbor Ferry — an excellent idea it seems, if no cars are transported. More people coming to Sag Harbor, more customers — to the benefit of our local merchants, provided they make purchases besides ice cream. And the shuttle buses? To East Hampton would seem like a ploy to circumvent the town’s ban on ferries from the North Fork. A shuttle to Bridgehampton seems superfluous. It can run from the existing ferry landing at North Haven.
Do we really need more crowds from the proposed ferry than we normally have in the summer months? My answer — to quote from a hymn: “Not till earth and not till heaven pass away.”
To the editor,
I’ve been involved with the East End Veto for many years. I have spent 30 years in the New York City police in the streets of Manhattan and Harlem. But most important is the history of the experience of the Vietnam War, 58,000 dead!
In the beginning of the Iraq War I wrote about suicide bombers as the warning signs of the canary in the coal mine. Later on the New York Times reported in the first five years of our war 900 Iraqis committed suicide. Iraq’s response to the occupiers. I’ll let you do the math ten years later. But the story does not end here.
Tens of thousands of victims of P.T.S.D have also committed suicide. Their souls were damaged after being sent back to combat as many as six times by the powers that be in their insanity and addition to war. Even an unusual number of Army recruiters committed suicide in Texas causing an inquiry in Congress. The evidence is clear but there is still more.
Perpetual war is leading us all down the same path of self destruction. But there are other signs of hope. 70% of our citizens are against the war, Democrats and Republicans. The time has come for everyone to speak out. The alternative is perpetual war and a broken economy. 50% of our taxes are spent on the military. 4% on education.
In peace, not war.
P.S. We are the season of resurrection. Springtime the time to change from death to life.
Why Rush the Ferry?
Dear Mr. Boyhan,
The Board of Trustees of the Village of Sag Harbor has proposed a local law which would allow the issuance of a Special Permit for the operation of a ferry terminal in the Village of Sag Harbor.
This local law, as proposed, would: circumvent current village law which forbids a ferry terminal, deny the normal review of the proposed ferry terminal by any other board or committee of the Village, and place all review, after adoption of the local law, to the Board at its sole, non-public discretion.
The local law was subject to a hearing on April 10th, at which very basic questions were asked by the public such as- where will the ferry dock, how big is the dock, how many passengers will the ferry accommodate, will the ferry require additional services from the Village, what will the Village charge, what is the expected mix of passengers (local, bus, car), and so on. The response from the Board was essentially — “we don’t know.”
Beyond these fundamental questions the larger issues of “why” were asked. Why such a rush to accommodate a private, for-profit business? Why set a precedent of circumventing the Village code? Why will this benefit the residents of Sag Harbor? Why should Sag Harbor risk additional traffic and parking congestion to accommodate ferry riders from all over the south fork? Why isn’t the Town of East Hampton being asked for similar relief so that a ferry terminal could be sited, in say Three Mile Harbor, for the benefit of East Hampton residents? Again, no response beyond “it seems like a good idea.”
Having a ferry system that coordinates with rail and bus services for the East End could be a great addition and benefit for all. Having a single ferry that concentrates traffic in Sag Harbor is a detriment, without over-riding benefit, for the residents of Sag Harbor. That is why such a service is not allowed in the Village code.
It would be far better for the sponsors of this proposal, both private and public, to develop a test plan that emulates the long term goal of an East End resource and involved ALL the east end communities. It may well be time for a private/public effort to test a ferry system, but it is not time to use the Village of Sag Harbor’s residents as guinea pigs.
Pierce W. Hance
For Further Reading
Whatever motivated the members of the Zoning Board of Appeals to order the removal of The Legs, it clearly was not a desire to fulfill the objectives of the zoning rules. The Legs stand directly along side of a larger building. Removing them will not remove a blockage to light and air. They do not obstruct in any serious manner the neighbors’ view. If the village ever decides to widen the road, The Legs can be moved with little notice or expense. The only precedent that would be set by approving their placement would be that exemptions to the setback rules will be granted when no public purpose would be advanced by not granting them.
I suggest, strongly suggest, that those responsible for the ZBA decision read Bery v. City of New York, 97 F.3d 689 (2 Federal Cir.1996). In that case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is our Federal circuit, ruled that New York City could not reduce street congestion by requiring that street vendors of pictures be licensed. (The United States Supreme Court later declined the city’s invitation to overturn that decision.)
The Bery case clearly and unambiguously established the rule that the status of an object as art will block the application to it of local restrictions, including local zoning rules, unless a sufficiently important public benefit would result from enforcing the restriction. The Bery rule is directly on point and is controlling of The Legs matter.
The fact that the art could be sold elsewhere than on the streets was declared by the Second Circuit to be irrelevant for the same reasons that the fact that The Legs could be exhibited elsewhere in Sag Harbor is irrelevant. All locations are not equal and the owners have the right to select the location that best conveys their message to its intended audience.
In Bery the Second Circuit stated:
“..the City’s requirement that appellants be licensed in order to sell their artwork in public spaces constitutes an unconstitutional infringement of their First Amendment rights.”
This was so despite the fact that the New York City rule was designed to prevent street congestion, a legitimate public purpose. What then of the ZBA’s order that The Legs depart from their present site, an order which protects no discernible public interest within the ZBA’s mandate?
The decision of the ZBA gives the impression of a minor-league autocracy flaunting its power and is an embarrassment to Sag Harbor. If the owners of The Legs appeal to the courts, embarrassment quickly will become humiliation, expensive humiliation!
Philip T Kaplan
Birth of a Banana Republic?
Is it not unthinkable that a sitting President would argue that the Supreme Court should not focus on whether Obamacare is allowed according to our Constitution? Rather, the Court, Obama argues, should uphold the law based on the perceived impact to certain people even if the law is unconstitutional.
Fair reader, if the Supreme Court no longer used the criteria of constitutionality to determine whether or not the other two branches of our government have acted within their given powers, America would become a banana republic.
Obama’s views are disturbing and a threat to our democracy and freedom. And the fact that the mainstream media has not challenged him on these views is even more disturbing, yet not unexpected.