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Snow Removal to Havens Sparks Debate

Posted on 15 January 2010

While talks are ongoing on what to do about stormwater runoff and other pollutants at Havens Beach, the village Harbor Committee is sure about one thing: Sag Harbor should no longer use the parking lot at the popular bathing beach to dump snow collected throughout the village.

Following a meeting on Monday, January 11, the committee blasted off a letter to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees demanding the village look for other locations to dump snow plowed from village streets.

“We have now heard the preliminary report on [Havens Beach] and we have learned that we have a significantly greater problem then we anticipated and that the Havens Beach area turns out to be a very environmentally sensitive area in the village because of where it is and because such a large flood plain drains into the area,” said Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait.

Tait added the committee is also concerned about a dog park adjacent to the drainage ditch at Havens Beach and that it is largely un-policed, with irresponsible pet owners leaving their dog’s waste behind despite dog waste baggies and a trash can next to the park.

“The times we have talked about the snow removal we have been told that the village meets the [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] regulations that [the snow is dumped] 300-feet from the wetland,” said Tait, adding the department of public works did make an effort after the blizzard in December to spread the snow out and pull it back from the drainage ditch area.

“But it was easily within the 300-feet,” he said, adding that the Harbor Committee, as the village agency charged with upholding Sag Harbor’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), has the ability to require more than the DEC.

“We all know what this is,” chimed in Harbor Committee member Jeffrey Peters. “It’s the first runoff you are taking with the snow. I personally find, in an environmentally sensitive area like this, it is terrible that we are doing that right there.”

Citing four separate charges of the LWRP, the committee voted unanimously to ask the board of trustees to ban the removal of snow to the Havens Beach lot for the remainder of this year and beyond.

On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride said they would look at other places, but the board as a whole seemed reluctant to ask the Department of Public Works to change the locale, again citing DEC standards.

In other news, the committee loosened its requests that dockage of mega yachts be restricted on Long Wharf, opening up the west side of Long Wharf during holiday weekends after banning dockage there altogether last year.

“There are substantial revenues involved with renting out Long Wharf,” noted Tait, who reminded the committee that while the village has allowed dockage on the east side of Long Wharf, last year it prohibited dockage on the north and west ends in an effort to promote local access to the waterfront. Tait said that while the village has traditionally rented the east side for the whole of the summer to Summer Wind he would also like to see a variety of big ships able to use the space throughout the year.

As a compromise with the village, which Tait said could use additional revenues during an economic downturn, the committee agreed to continue to allow boats to dock on the east side of Long Wharf, but only for a two-week period per vessel. Consulting with Harbor Master Bob Bori, they also agreed to allow the west side to be rented during Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends and voted to keep the north end of Long Wharf closed to dockage throughout the summer.

Peters, who did not agree with the idea of opening up the west side for mega-yachts at all, voted against the recommendation.

On Tuesday night, the Village Board of Trustees agreed with the committee’s recommendations, but decided to allow Summer Wind to dock for the whole summer season.

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