Useless Sound System
Dear Sag Harbor Express,
I could not be the only one who feels that it is impossible to hear what is going on at the Village Board meetings because of the poor quality of microphones in the Municipal Building’s meeting room.
If one’s hearing is in the least bit impaired it is impossible to hear ANY member of the board, the village attorney or the environmental consultants or for that matter the members of the public who are make presentations.
When Village Mayor Pierce Hance was first elected in the 1990s, he put in the first microphone system in the building. Although it was just a little better — over not having anything at all — they were really not good enough then, and now they are simply not working. This has been going on for YEARS, and I along with everyone in the room recently at the Planning Board meeting was ready to scream. It is simply exasperating!!
This issue has come up at every village board meeting I have attended. In other words hundreds over the years. The mikes have been tweaked by the secretary in charge, but to no avail! For all intents and purposes these meeting — as one member of the audience called out recently — might as well be secret as NO ONE can hear a word.
I beg that the Village do something about this. Although I am not an audio specialist I can only think that each member of the board as well as each of the consultants as well as those who are presenting their projects have lavaliere mikes attached to each of their lapels and that a good new microphone be bought for the podium and that everything be attached to a NEW working sound system, strong amplifier and large speakers.
The system as it stands now is… useless.
Limit Review Board Purview
At the upcoming meeting of the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees, a vote is scheduled to be taken that would amend the current law governing the scope of the Architectural Review Board. Currently, the ARB has purview regarding building and renovations in what is defined as “the historic district”. What is being considered is giving the ARB the same power with all building permit applications no matter where they are located in the village.
I think the majority of the constituents of our fair village will agree retaining and protecting the special architectural character of the historic district in the village is in our common good. I personally believe the ARB has, overall, done an excellent job to this end using existing laws as they now stand.
Using, sometimes, far-reaching and ambiguous guidelines they must make determinations on submitted building plans which may, in their opinion, ”not be in harmonious character because of proposed style, materials, scale, form, rhythm, proportion, mass, line, color, detail, or placement upon the property or in relation to the spaces between buildings or the nature of the landscape, or simply because the plans do not provide for the location and design or structures and open spaces so as to create a balanced and harmonious composition as a whole and in relation to its several parts and features to each other.”
Certainly, that was a mouthful. But what does it mean? Their decisions must be based on these guidelines that, often times, are ambiguous, generic and subjective. Certainly theirs is not an easy job.
Now, imagine taking those guidelines and filtering every single building permit application submitted to the village through them. In my mind it creates two problems. One is the balance of the property owner’s rights and rights of the Village of Sag Harbor as an entity. In 1816, Thomas Jefferson said: “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” William Blackstone, whose lectures shaped and helped inspire the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and primal laws of America wrote; “So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” Of course, absolutely subscribing to these principles, one could make a case against all planning boards, zoning laws, property taxes and ARBs. But to my way of thinking, one must strive for a practical and pragmatic balance between the rights of the individual property owners and the needs of the whole. Extending the jurisdiction of the ARB over all of Sag Harbor undoubtedly diminishes private property owner’s rights outside of “the historic district” and would lead to an imbalance between the rights of private property owners of Sag Harbor and the rights of Sag Harbor as a whole.
The other problem I see is the addition of another layer of bureaucracy to what is already a burdensome, expensive and time-consuming process. If a building permit application is submitted and the proposed building or renovation is not in the defined “historic district” and it is in keeping with others in the neighborhood, current procedures should suffice. We have zoning laws and building codes that specifically spell out building envelopes, height restrictions, structural standards and myriad other regulations for all home construction. They also address aesthetics, but to a far lesser degree than the power exercised by the ARB regarding the historic district. As it stands, an application takes about two weeks to be reviewed and then the permit would either be granted or denied for cause. Having that same application considered by the ARB would add a minimum of two to four weeks to that application depending on when the board next meets, additional expenditures for required documentation, and possibly further delays and expenditures for revisions and documentation requested by the ARB. All this cannot help but further delay the issuance of the building permit and, in my opinion, is unnecessary and redundant. This amendment undoubtedly will increase delays and costs, in what, for most people, is the single most expensive undertaking in their lives.
To The Editor,
Every now and then one may pause to consider if there will be culture in a generation. Reality TV and a kind of permanent hubbub from the anonymous priests of our celebrity cult (Jane Doe flaunts her new beach bod on the arm of Joan Dough’s ex, John Dough), are mental trans-fats. They are to culture what a 32 ounce artificial cola is to cuisine. This past year, for the first time in history, catalog music sales were greater than newly produced music. I believe the reason is that the heavily computerized new music has about as much heart and soul as the woman in your GPS. On a recent Saturday night at Guild Hall, Long Island Opera brought Bizet’s Carmen to the East End. Those lucky enough to be in the audience were treated to something very special indeed.
It was a revelation. This was the human voice naked, with no pitch changers, no envelope followers, no compressors, no lip synching. It was glorious and timeless. The cast members are young and they are like daybreak after a long and tedious night. There is a future for genuine talent, hard work, skill, commitment and knowledge.
Among the standouts in the cast was Kara Cornell in the role of Carmen. While her voice lacked the bravura horsepower of some of the others, her seductive interpretation was a perfect match for the title role.
David Guzman deserves special mention in the role of Don Jose’. The thing that is missing from most contemporary popular singing is emotional intensity. By this I do not mean vocal gymnastics (which we have in over abundance) or the standing on the accelerator of a 3 note power range a la American Idol, I mean subtlety, inflexion, intelligence, and more than an octave of perfect intonation and great power. Mr. Guzman is also capable of an equally impressive emotional range.
Elise Brancheau as Micaela brought not only emotional intensity, flawless pitch and great power to her role, but charm as well.
Eric McKeever as Ecamillo was simply brilliant.
To see these young people demonstrate such mastery of a difficult art form gives us new hope for the future of culture in this country.
Three cheers and heartfelt thanks to the cast and crew and to Daniel Hubert, Long Island Opera Chair for bringing Carmen to East Hampton. And thanks to Guild Hall for another great experience in the arts.
For tasters of the Clam Chowder Contest at HarborFest, here are
the restaurants and their corresponding numbers:
Bell & Anchor White 3
Dock House White 7
Dockside White 2
The Golden Pear White 4
LT Burger White 1
MJ Dowling’s White 6
Page at 63 Main White 8
The Paradise White 5
B. Smith White 11
Cromer’s Market Red 13
Dock House Red 9
Il Capuccino Red 12
The New Paradise Red 10
To reiterate, the winners were: B. Smith for Best White and The Dock House for Best Red.
Barbara Wolfram, Vice President
Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry