The Village of Sag Harbor Board of Trustees is seeking vendors interested in running an ice skating rink on one of two village-owned parking lots behind Main Street, although it appears any plan to house the rink on the National Grid-owned lot on Long Island Avenue has been scrapped for the time being.
On Friday, September 18 the board convened a work session to hammer out details for the request for local vendors. Last month trustee Tim Culver introduced the concept of an ice rink in Sag Harbor as a means of providing entertainment for local families, but also to boost the often sluggish winter economy.
Culver envisions a rink on village property, but not one run by the village, urging the board to remain wary of putting a municipality in the ice rink business. Rather, he said, the rink would be leased through the end of March at no cost to a vendor willing to set up and maintain the rink. That vendor would, in turn, collect all profits from the facility, which could be operated until 9 p.m.
On Friday, the board briefly discussed the possibility of hosting the facility on Long Wharf or at Marine Park, noting Greenport’s village-run ice rink has views of the harbor, a nice amenity for skaters. However, board members voiced concern that strong winds on the waterfront could deter skaters and also worried about marring the grass at Marine Park, as well as having to negotiate any lease through another municipality like Suffolk County, which owns Long Wharf.
While the National Grid lot, which was leased to the village throughout the summer for parking, was originally conceived as a likely locale, village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. cautioned the board that securing the long term lease of that property should be the primary goal of the village.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything to screw that up,” said Culver.
Mayor Brian Gilbride suggested a lot adjacent to the National Grid lot behind Schiavoni’s Market. The board also considered a municipal lot behind Apple Bank. Both are just behind Main Street properties, which Gilbride said was ideal given the board’s hope that the creation of an ice rink would give local businesses an economic boost.
“Our hope is some parents do some shopping,” said Gilbride.
Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said she has heard it could cost somewhere near $80,000 to $100,000 a month to run a facility that is not weather dependent, which worried Gilbride about if this was an economically viable move for any local vendors.
With Scarlato and Culver poised to meet with local municipalities like Greenport and Southampton Village – which had its own weather-dependent rink at Agawam Park with mixed results – the board agreed to send out a general request for bidders looking to host a rink in Sag Harbor on village owned property through the end of March.
“Hopefully there is enough time to get this done,” said Culver, noting he has heard widespread support from the community on the proposal.
“The only thing we are going to say is we will provide property and the rest, it is up to them,” said Gilbride. “Let’s see if we have any interest.”
In other village news, the board expressed concern over an upcoming sidewalk sale over Columbus Day weekend, sponsored by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce after some participants in a similar sidewalk sale during HarborFest appeared to be non-chamber members.
According to Thiele, anyone who held their own sidewalk sale without membership to the chamber was in violation of the permit that allowed the street-front fair, and left the village open to liability as the businesses carried no insurance as non-chamber members.
“The only thing I was worried about was the trip and falls,” said Gilbride, noting that since he has taken the helm in Sag Harbor he has seen the impact those incidents can have on the village and its resources. “It was a great turnout, great weather, but there were sections of sidewalk where you couldn’t even pass.”
The board agreed to allow the Columbus Day sidewalk sale, although at the urging of Thiele, vowed to contact the Chamber to ensure they policed their own event.
“I don’t want to be the guy who said you have to be in the Chamber to do this, but just provide us some insurance,” added Gilbride.
“Maybe this could encourage people to join the chamber,” offered Thiele.