Last week Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride penned the last in a succession of letters to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) seeking to acquire a parcel of land next to beachfront owned by the village – a parcel of land East End Ventures, the developers who have proposed 18 waterfront condos on an adjacent property, have sued the MTA to gain possession of.
“The property is adjacent to other village property and has historically been used by the village to provide access to a beach for the public,” wrote Gilbride on July 17. “As an adjoining property owner of the property, the village’s interest in the property is consistent with our goal to enhance public access to the waterfront. Furthermore the enhancement of waterfront access is in keeping with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) adopted by the village to promote such access.”
Gilbride goes on to note that the village had commissioned a landscape design by Edmund Hollander in 1996 for the beachfront with the adjoining MTA parcel included in the plans. The design illustrates a waterfront park with clusters of native plants and grasses, with a central walkway and six benches.
The village has also had an active legal interest in the land based on an LIRR easement given to the village in the 1950s.
“As part of our responsibility to the taxpayers of Sag Harbor, it is our position at this time that the village should have been included as a necessary party to any litigation that attempts to diminish or eliminate the village’s rights in the property,” continues Gilbride.
On Monday, Gilbride noted he was not the first mayor to reach out to the MTA about the parcel, but that the village had been trying to gain possession of the land since the mid-1990s, crediting former Mayor Pierce Hance for beginning the discussion and commissioning the landscape plan.
Three letters have been sent to the authority this year alone and while the village has yet to hear back from attorneys representing the MTA, it has received the support of Mitchell H. Pally, the Suffolk County Representative of the MTA Board of Commissioners.
“Pursuant to your request, I have been in contact with both representatives of the MTA and the Long Island Rail Road expressing my support for the transfer of the property to the Village of Sag Harbor once the current litigation is finalized,” wrote Pally to former Mayor Greg Ferraris in May of this year.
“What I would love to see, what I would love to be a part of, is knowing at some point in time we created a nice walkway and path around the bridge,” said Gilbride. “Ultimately, it can only compliment whatever project would go next to there.”
Trustee Tim Culver, who Gilbride said conducted the research discovering the easement, said the letter has nothing to do with the proposed condos adjacent to the parcel, but rather with continuing the village’s pursuit of public access to the waterfront.
“I haven’t even looked at their plans,” said Culver on Monday. “I don’t care. There is public property that gives access to the waterfront. Whatever other issues there are here someone smarter than me can figure out, but if this all gets fixed up it will only benefit the adjacent property owner.”