Categorized | Government, Page 1

Sag Harbor Cinema Closer To Landmark Status

Posted on 28 August 2008

The Sag Harbor Cinema is just steps away from being designated as a historic landmark in the Village of Sag Harbor, but an earlier concept to landmark four buildings on the property that belonged to John and Elaine Steinbeck appears uncertain.

On Monday, August 25 the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board adopted a resolution asking the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees to designate both the structures on the Steinbeck’s Bluff Point Lane parcel and the iconic Sag Harbor Cinema as historic landmarks. The resolution cites the cinema’s façade as “an important feature of the architectural character of the village” and the “historic interest” of the Steinbeck structures, which includes the author’s writing studio.

But on Wednesday, ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown said he would ask his board to rescind the portion of the resolution that focused on the Steinbeck parcel while he looks into the potential impacts such a designation could have on the owner of a private residence outside of the historic district.

“I just want to further visit what can be designated, if anything, on that property, rather than asking all four structures be designated,” said Brown, who had already contacted mayor Greg Ferraris about the measure.

Brown said if the structures are revisited at all, he will urge the board only to do so should the board take on the task of creating an inventory of all homes in the village, rather than singling out one residence. The discussion about rescinding the Steinbeck portion of the resolution will take place at the ARB’s next meeting on Thursday, September 11 at 5 p.m. 

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris, following ARB approval, once the trustees review the resolution they will schedule a public hearing in an effort to seek out public comment on the concept. Gerald Mallow, owner of the Sag Harbor Cinema, will be personally notified 15 days prior to the public hearing on the cinema.

Ferraris said any comments made by an owner in this instance would be taken into consideration by the board of trustees as they make their decision on whether to designate the structures or not.

Earlier this month, the board also said it was contemplating asking that an independent party develop a historic survey of the village in order to ensure historic buildings are not lost or altered while the village continues to develop.

A month ago, word spread through the village that Mallow had placed his iconic cinema on the market. It is listed in one advertisement as being for sale for $12 million.

In 2004, village residents rallied, and fundraised, to restore in-kind the cinema sign — seen by many as a landmark of the village — after learning the aging sign would be removed and replaced.

Without ARB approval, persons are prohibited from altering any façade of a historic building, or any building in the historic district for that matter, and must also seek board approval for any construction, reconstruction, demolition, or to move the structure.


While three fences were approved at Monday’s meeting for residences throughout Sag Harbor, East End Ventures, the company hoping to develop 1,3 and 5 Ferry Road into 18 luxury condos, was told the board would seek counsel before approving a fence on the perimeter of that property.

Project manager Mark D’Andrea approached the board about erecting a fence, which he says is crucial in order for him to control litter and safety on the site. According to D”Andrea, garbage is being dumped on site, and vehicles, in an effort to park there, are driving over concrete barriers. A transparent, chain-link fence, he argued, would create better working conditions as well as a better aesthetic at the site.

ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown said his concern was that a chain link fence in downtown Sag Harbor was inappropriate as the village is not an urban environment. D’Andrea offered to leave the fence material in the board’s hands.

Board member Michael Mensch noted the board should consider the semi-permanent nature of the fence, as no one knows when or if the project will be approved. 

“We are in limbo, so to speak,” replied D’Andrea.

Board member Robert Tortora suggested a four-foot high post and rail fence could be considered. The Sag Harbor Tree Committee used similar fencing when it commenced a planting project on Long Island Avenue, he noted.

While Brown agreed the material was acceptable, he said he had concerns about what the fence would do to the view shed — a vista that has been a subject of debate surrounding the three-story proposed condo building. He also wondered, given the size of the fence, whether another board should also have jurisdiction over this fence. The board agreed to table the application until its next meeting, on Thursday, September 11 at 5 p.m., so counsel can be consulted.

In other news, after an attorney representing Paris Fields and Clifton Murdock presented the board with photos showing one stand of trees that will have to be removed for the construction of a carriage house, the board amended a prior approval to allow for their removal. No other trees on the 314 Main Street, Sag Harbor property can be removed for the construction without ARB approval. 

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