Make Way for First Responders
People of Sag Harbor,
The summer season is upon us and with it comes a greater influx of people and traffic. There is not much we can do about the U-turns on Main Street or the running of the stop signs, except learn to deal with it.
However, if you see a flashing BLUE light (Fire Department) or GREEN light (Ambulance Personnel) behind you, it means we are responding to an Emergency Call as quickly and safely as we can. So please, if it’s safe to do so, take a few SECONDS to pull to the side and let us go by. Those extra few SECONDS can make a difference to the saving of property and lives.
Remember, that house, car, boat or loved one we are responding to, could be yours! Thank you.
Member, Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department
No Gauge for Ferry
We write about the proposed ferry to and from the North Fork. We are deeply concerned about pollution, traffic, and increased commercial pressures on Sag Harbor. For the historic Village of Sag Harbor, already overcrowded with incoming summer traffic and crowds, the ferry is a parasitical entity, not a contribution.
It’s hard not to think of the proverbial thin end of the wedge when confronting the suspension of a law in order to allow (even on a temporary basis) what that law was created to prevent. To conduct the trial, the village is putting aside a law set in place to protect the harbor environment. Such laws are very difficult to come by, and commercial pressure to overturn them powerful. We are concerned: If this ferry company succeeds (and by success, the company’s primary measure will be commercial), then will we open ourselves up to more pressure? Or, if this summer’s ferry company fails, then another company might justifiably ask for the same commercial opportunities in another promising summer season. If seasonal shops spring up to serve day-trippers, they too will be hard to roll back.
The trustees reasons for approving this trial and their definition of “success” have not been defined despite the fundamental issue of governance at stake in this proposal. This very troubling lack of explanation is evident both in the outline presented by Save Sag Harbor and accounts published in the well-respected Sag Harbor Express. How can the trial proceed without an explicit understanding of why it is being allowed?
The argument that the ferry could reduce the number of cars coming into Sag Harbor is highly debatable. Since only a small percentage of those cars are stopping in Sag Harbor, a minute number would be influenced by an alternate route. Meanwhile, as any casual student of American transportation history can tell you, an added route (be it water, land, or air) will soon attract more people, shaping real estate markets, and converting some areas (for example where parking lots, and ferries and buses join) into unexpected wastelands.
This ferry system would make Sag Harbor the parking lot of the South Fork. The idea that the ferry users will park at Pierson (if this use is approved) is fantastically unrealistic. We need only recall the long debates over parking at the John Jermain Library to realize that many users will only park within a few steps of their destination. In the case of the ferry, this means in the center of Sag Harbor.
Already, we are heavily visited by people living on suburban South Fork streets — most of whose own streets are designed to bear only residential traffic — but who use our historic streets for entertainment. For residents of historic Sag Harbor, more cars are not a good thing. As any one who has made a recent visit to Key West will know, waterways can be as efficient as roads and cars in overloading scenic and historical places if an already popular town yields to too many commercial interests, whether by land or by sea.
The village trustees have approved the ferry trial without studying the impact of that business on our community and justified this action with the self-serving excuse that a trial is the best test, despite the very substantial dangers the ferry poses to our physical and social environment.
Moreover, the trustees have not presented the precise procedures that will be used to evaluate the success or failure of this trial. To proceed without extensive public discussion and review of how the trail will be evaluated will prevent serious judgment of the trial. This lack of explicit procedures and evaluation criteria almost certainly guarantees the ferry will pass the “test” by Village standards. We are only left to hope that it won’t pass the test by the ferry’s commercial standards.
Like the decision to allow the trial, the absence of a proper system of evaluation is a gift to the ferry owners and amounts to irresponsible treatment of the citizens of Sag Harbor.
Neighbors Have Suffered
I was shocked to read recently about the plan to use Hampton Jitney buses in a residential neighborhood to ferry people back and forth to the proposed ferry boat. I feel this is a gross imposition on the people who live along these small, historical streets who will have to put up with more noise, pollution, slamming of car doors, buses idling their engines, etc., in an attempt to fool ourselves into thinking that this is a “greener” way of getting people around.
We, the neighbors of the schools in Sag Harbor, feel we have given enough in terms of putting up with noise, and bright lights shining straight at our homes, and noise from construction, etc., and suggest that this idea is simply beyond the pale.
My neighbor and I worked a few years ago to get the heavy trucks off of our tiny, historical streets, as they were making the walls of our houses, many of them set not more than 12 feet from the street, crack and rattle, and were in essence destroying houses in the historical district. I see nothing dissimilar in this plan to place heavy, noisy and polluting buses in our neighborhood, and suggest that this commercial activity be kept in the commercial district of Sag Harbor.
Commerce and quality of Life
Dear Bryan Boyhan,
Traffic, parking and commerce: The big three. I know we’re thinking about the way traffic and parking affect commerce, but are we thinking about how the increased density affects quality of life? How do you quantify that?
Some factors are not easily measured but it might be useful to get a head count on transient population density. How many people will be coming to Sag Harbor to get on the ferry and how many getting off to come into the village?
The interests of commerce are important but so are the interests of people who live here and who pay property taxes.
What an excellent week it was for reading the Letters to the Editor. I especially appreciated the letter from my neighbors John Shaka and Maryann Eddy about the Harbor Heights expansion. Also, the terrific letter from Peter Darrow about community rowing. Now, THAT’S another great example of thinking about the people who live here. Spectators, too, both residents and visitors. It is such a picturesque sport, Wish I knew when it would be happening. I’d like to see those shells on the harbor.
Thanks for Flood Relief
On behalf of John and David Falkowski and their vast community of helpers, I would like to thank each and every one of you, for your most caring and generous support for the victims of the flooding in the upstate communities, last summer, in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Clothing, furniture, supplies, food, raffle prizes, time and monies were so generously donated by so many on the Eastern End of Long Island and beyond. Churches, organizations, corporations, children, boy scouts and adults alike jumped right in to assist. And of course a very special thank you to the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Richard Doyle, for their involvement.
The money collected was distributed to those who were rebuilding their homes, in the form of gift cards from The Home Depot. According to our local fire chief, many of these families sent the Sag Harbor Fire Dept. heartfelt and tear-jerking letters of gratitude.
We did a good thing and should all be proud.
The letter that follows is from Pastor Neil who facilitated the distribution of funds upstate NY.
To: Sag Harbor Fire Department and Community Residents
This letter is to thank you for your overwhelming generous donation to the Sunshine Fund for helping the residents in North Blenheim, NY who suffered tremendous devastation to their homes and properties from the affects of Hurricane Irene.
The residents were deeply moved by your generosity. Thanks to your blessing, many are in the process of rebuilding their lives and homes. Please know that your unselfish act of kindness has become a source of encouragement to all who were affected by a 10-15 foot wall of water that swept through the community at 50 mph. They deeply appreciate all of you who gave from their hearts to help others in their time of need. There is still much to be done and we are moving forward.
In closing, on behalf of the North Blenheim Community — thank you! A special “thank you” to David Falkowski who coordinated this fund-raiser and of whom I had the privilege of sharing phone conversations with and hope to personally meet someday. God bless you all.
With thankful appreciation,
Pastor Neil and the North Blenheim Community