Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait presents renewed plans for a waterfront park next to the bridge during the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night.
By Kathryn G. Menu
Since the mid 1990s, a group of Sag Harbor residents have envisioned a waterfront walkway stretching from the Breakwater Yacht Club across the village and down West Water Street, ending in front of the Sag Harbor Inn.
On Tuesday night, Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait announced the revival of long dormant plans for a public waterfront park next to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. It’s a piece of the waterfront walkway puzzle that was originally proposed by award winning landscape architect Edmund Hollander back in 1996.
On Tuesday night, Tait reintroduced the project to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees with the hope of gaining their approval to have the Harbor Committee revive the project, and apply for a state matching grant to help cover the cost of the proposal. While still open to revision — and public hearings — Tait showed the board a slightly upgraded rendering from when Hollander first proposed the park almost two decades ago.
Heavily landscaped, the park would contain two docks meant for smaller boats like 25-foot Boston Whalers, rather than the yachts that have started to dominate the waterfront landscape of most local marinas, said Tait. The park would have benches, and perhaps a picnic table and could be accessed through a public walkway from Windmill Beach or from the public path that travels underneath the bridge, he added.
Tait said the project is supported by the village’s own Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) and Harbor Management Plan (HMP), as it would expand the public’s access to the waterfront. Matching grants from the New York Department of State specific to waterfront projects can be applied for now and are expected to be awarded this August, said Tait.
“I am told the communities with the most serious applications and that have an LWRP and Harbor Management Plan have the best chances of being awarded grants,” he added.
“The docks will end up paying for themselves over time,” said Tait. “The dock represents a historic use of this area. The derelict dock next to this beach was once an active place for fishing boats.”
Sag Harbor Village does own a section of waterfront land sandwiched between the bridge and the former Diner property, which for the last several years has been owned by East End Ventures, a firm that unsuccessfully tried to build luxury condominiums on the site. This summer, the company announced it would make a similar proposal to the Sag Harbor Planning Board except this time the firm intends to incorporate 2 West Water Street, also known as the 1-800-LAWYER building after its most recent owner, Bruce Davis.
On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said he was having the village’s property resurveyed and is taking a look at historic deeds to ensure the village is aware of what property it actually owns next to the bridge.
“If it is our property there and the grants are there I think this is a long term LWRP goal to create a walkway that goes all the way around the waterfront,” said Tait. “I think it is important for us to follow through on it.”
“I happen to think it is a great idea and can be done,” said Gilbride.
Trustee Ed Deyermond questioned the funding.
Tait said the matching grant could be applied for, and that he believed the remainder could be raised through private fundraising.
Deyermond added the location is without parking and a little out of the way.
“We need to make Sag Harbor far more pedestrian and bike friendly,” countered Tait.
“I am in favor of it,” said Deyermond. “I am just raising some of these questions.”
Gilbride suggested Tait gather information on the cost of the project and what exactly it would entail and then come back to the board. In a straw poll, a unanimous village board said they supported the concept and urged Tait and the Harbor Committee to begin crafting a formal plan.
“When you have an approved LWRP you tend to do extremely well [in state grant applications],” added Sag Harbor Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.