Tag Archive | "brian gilbride"

Sag Harbor Parents Express Safety Concerns Over Pick up and Drop off at Pierson Middle/High School

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By Tessa Raebeck

Last Friday afternoon at the end of the school day, Dr. Carl Bonuso was on Division Street waiting to make a left turn into the Pierson Middle/High School parking lot, with his left signal blinking. A Mini Cooper came behind him, swerved to the left and illegally passed Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District.

Several Pierson parents have expressed concern over such incidents during pick up and drop off at the school’s southern entrance, saying poor design, lack of supervising personnel and drivers’ rush to get kids to school combine for a haphazard and potentially dangerous scenario.

“I’m a parent, not an expert,” said Robbie Vorhaus, who has had two children attend Pierson — one is now in college and the other is still a student at the school. “But I’m still very much aware of the fact that there is a very flagrant potential safety hazard that’s been going on for a long time. And it would seem as though the police department would want to work with the school to prevent something horrible from happening.”

During the morning drop off, parents circle around the Division Street parking lot loop, dropping kids off at a curb by the entrance. Principal Jeff Nichols and other administrators are often present to move traffic along the curb.

John Ali, a Pierson security officer, monitors the buses and is positioned at the Marsden Street intersection in the afternoon. The buses park south of the intersection on Division Street and exit down Marsden Street. Cars line up down Marsden Street, despite a No Standing sign, and up and down Division Street.

During the morning, drivers pull around the loop to drop their kids off; cars approach the parking lot entrance from all directions. The four-way traffic created by the intersection is about 20 feet from the three-way traffic created by the lot entrance.

“There are different problems in the morning than in the afternoon,” Vorhaus said.

In the afternoon, students must find the car picking them up. If it hasn’t yet pulled into the loop, kids often go down the road in search of it.

On Friday afternoon, in addition to directing the intersection, there were students to be monitored. On the loop, a student on a razor scooter had to be directed to stay out of the road. A girl in a red jacket ran across the street, dropping a cup in the middle of the road and stooping to pick it up. During both pick up and drop off, which lasts about 20 minutes each, several cars ran the three stop signs at the Marsden Street intersection.

“It was absolute mayhem there today,” Vorhaus said Tuesday, speaking of the afternoon pick up, which came early due to inclement weather. “With the snow and the early pick up, there were more people and there was nobody there [aside from Ali]. There was no other public safety officer anywhere to be seen.”

Dr. Bonuso said Monday the school is hoping to implement several practical safety changes when the parking lots are renovated as part of the district bond capital projects.

“We’ve also in our school and community meetings talked about the details regarding the design for the parking lot,” he said Tuesday. “One of the things we’re tossing around is whether or not we could expand that curb length, so that people could pull up much further and [thus] not have as much of a line of people spilling out into the street.”

“And of course,” he added, “we also welcome working with and partnering with the village.”

“The answer is,” Vorhaus said Tuesday, “that the police department — as in any other community — works in cooperation with the school and puts either a patrol officer or a safety officer, certainly, at the corner of Division and Jermain.”

Although that intersection is priority, Vorhaus would also like to see a second officer at the northern intersection of Division Street and Marsden Street, especially during pick up.

Dr. Bonuso said he would welcome it if the village’s traffic experts spoke with the district’s architecture firm, BBS Architecture, “to get a sense of traffic flow and what the best design is both from the school’s perspective and the village’s perspective. We absolutely welcome having both the village and school share as much information and expertise as is available.”

“Honestly, I think that’s a school issue,” Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride said Tuesday, adding that he sometimes accompanies his son to drop off his grandson.

Mayor Gilbride said there is a Traffic Control Officer (TCO) at the Sag Harbor Elementary School’s Route 114 entrance “who does an excellent job.”

Sag Harbor Police Chief Tom Fabiano said Tuesday he could not comment because he is unaware of the problem, but anyone with concerns should come to him to discuss a possible solution.

 

In Sag Harbor, A Priority of Public Projects for 2014

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By Kathryn G. Menu

In its last meeting for 2013, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees met in special session Thursday afternoon to talk about a list of village projects that are coming into focus for 2014.

Repairs to Long Wharf, upgrading the Municipal Building with an elevator that would allow access to the long-vacant third and fourth floors of that Main Street building, and constructing a helipad at Havens Beach for emergency service use were three projects village board members debated Thursday.

At the close of the session, board members passed a resolution to get estimates on the cost of all three projects.

While board members agreed all three projects were worth looking at, at the start of the session, with just Mayor Brian Gilbride, Trustee Ken O’Donnell and Trustee Robby Stein in attendance, there was division on how a project like Long Wharf — a project that likely comes with a hefty price tag — should be funded.

“My feeling is we should bond it and do it all at once,” said O’Donnell.

Stein agreed, noting that village treasurer Eileen Tuohy has advised trustees interest rates are historically low, making it desirable to bond for a project of this size.

And sizable it will likely be.

While the village board will now await an updated survey detailing the repair and maintenance needs of Long Wharf, it has been several years since anything outside of annual maintenance performed by village crews has been completed on the aging facility.

In 2010, part of the impetus for Suffolk County to look to Sag Harbor Village as a means of ridding itself of ownership of Long Wharf was a report from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, outlining over $600,000 in immediate repairs necessary to keep the wharf in working order. While the transfer of Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village — an over two-year process — did go through, neither the county nor the village ever completed that list of repairs.

In March of this year, village engineer Paul Grosser compiled a schedule of repairs over a 10-year period. The village board discussed funding those repairs — at a total cost of $1 million — with $100,000 annually earmarked annually. Last month, Tuohy suggested it might be fiscally prudent to consider bonding instead.

Gilbride, who has staunchly opposed bonding for the repairs, noted the reserve repair fund has $1.2 million and while the village has paid for the Havens Beach remediation, it is expecting close to $300,000 back from the county and the state for that water quality project.

“I think we have to get a closer handle on what Long Wharf needs,” said Gilbride.

Stein agreed.

“Once we know about the cost, then we should talk about how to pay for it,” he said. “I am not so worried about bonding. I just don’t want to do piecemeal for this project.”

A longtime goal of Gilbride has been to see the village open up the third and fourth floors of the Municipal Building through the construction of an elevator. The village currently has a lift, which provides access from the first to the second floor including the meeting room, building department and justice court for the disabled. However, noted Gilbride, that lift has begun to falter and rather than replace it, he would like the board to consider installing an elevator that would enable the village to make use of the third floor for office space and the fourth floor for storage.

“It’s a key element to getting into the third floor and moving the building department up there,” he said, noting making the fourth floor usable in terms of office space is a larger — and pricier — challenge than he would like to take on this coming year.

According to Gilbride, installing an elevator would cost the village about $165,000.

A 2012 report detailing the cost of Municipal Building repairs and upgrades, including the elevator, estimated $1.8 million in funding would be necessary, which would include sprinkler system for the third floor and the extension of fire escapes to all floors in the building.

On Thursday, the board agreed to look into the cost of just installing the elevator, sprinkler system, and fire escapes — all necessary if the village wants to legally do business on the third floor.

The board also signed off, with little debate, on having an estimate drawn up for the creation of a helipad on Havens Beach. The helipad would specifically be for emergency service providers to use in the instance where a medevac is required out of Sag Harbor.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for January 14 at 6 p.m.

Schneiderman: Village Should Budget for Long Wharf

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Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said this week he planned to reach out to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride and suggest the mayor incorporate monies to care for Long Wharf into his 2012-2013 spending plan.

The suggestion comes mere weeks after the latest meeting between Suffolk County and Sag Harbor Village officials over the fate of Long Wharf. For over a year and a half village and county officials have bandied back-and-forth over the ownership of Long Wharf. A 10-year lease between the village and the county expired over a year ago. Since then, while the village has continued to maintain Long Wharf on a daily basis, long term repairs were stalled by the county, which technically owns the facility as a county road.

However, with a new Suffolk County Executive – Steve Bellone – and a county budget facing a potential $200,000 deficit, Schneiderman said he believes he now has the votes to move forward with the sale of Long Wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor. This would mean the village would assume responsibility for budgeting for long term repairs of the wharf.

According to Schneiderman, Suffolk County traditionally counted on setting aside $100,000 annually to pay for long term repairs to Long Wharf.

Now, it appears, that responsibility could lie with the Village of Sag Harbor, which has just begun its budget talks for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

On Monday, Schneiderman said he has taken the first step by re-filing a bill that transfers ownership of Windmill Beach and the sliver of land hosting the Windmill itself into village hands. That bill could be decided on as early as March 13, he said. After that, Schneiderman said he or Suffolk County Executive Bellone will introduce a bill to transfer ownership of Long Wharf to the village.

“I am hoping we can wrap this whole thing up by June,” he said. “I would advise the mayor to plan for this in his budget.”

While Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride had yet to hear formally from Schneiderman by Monday afternoon, he said he was willing to take on the burden of Long Wharf and will discuss the matter briefly at Friday’s budget meeting at 4 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

Sustaining Variety in a Perfect World

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variety adjusted

By Claire Walla


Lisa Field was manning the register at the back of the Sag Harbor Variety Store one recent Thursday afternoon when an old man, awkwardly holding a small piece of insulated fabric, approached the counter.

“Do you have any Velcro?” the man asked skeptically.

Without missing a beat, Field reached over to a shelf behind her and pulled on a large spool of the sticky material.

“Do you want sew-on?” she asked, holding it up.

The man looked down at the kidney-shaped piece of fabric lying limp in his hands, somewhat puzzled. “I don’t know what I want,” he admitted.

Field picked up the piece of fabric and ran a small, thumb-sized strip of Velcro along the ends of two flaps on the sides of what turned out to be a winter coat, sized perfectly for the man’s Jack Russell Terrier.

“I think you’re going to want to sew it on right here, so it will last,” she pointed. Then she measured a half-yard (the store’s minimum), which came out to $2.17.

The man only needed a fraction of that amount, but he seemed pleased nonetheless. “Now I’ve got 12 years’ worth of Velcro!”

According to Lisa Field, whose parents Phil and Roseann Bucking bought the Sag Harbor Variety store in 1970, this sort of exchange happens all the time.

“People come here expecting that we’re going to have what they want,” she said.

Indeed, throughout the course the conversation, Field helped eight different customers find everything from pieces of fabric and tape measures to wool socks. Whether it’s Velcro, construction paper, yo-yos, sock darners, strawberry hullers or—simply—a single spool of thread, chances are the Variety Store’s got it.

And while you might expect as much from a store founded on the concept being able to carry everything its customers might want (without getting luxurious), this local one-stop-shop is somewhat of a rarity. Take sewing notions and fabrics, for instance. Field said these items are one of the store’s biggest draws; not because they’re trendy or cutting edge, but because they’re basic. And “not many people sell those things anymore.”

The Variety Store harks back to a different time in American history; a time before the Internet and before big box stores, when populations of people congregated around their Main Street, which inevitably cut through the center of town, because that’s where they went for all the basic things they needed to survive: the grocery store, the hardware store, the Laundromat… the local Five and Dime.

Sag Harbor has seen many iterations of change over the years, economic shifts that — for better or worse — have changed the make-up of Main Street. And yet, 90 years after the first Five and Dime opened in Sag Harbor, the Variety Store remains remarkably the same. The front entrance is still marked by a mechanical pony, which still costs only 25 cents to ride, and on inside you’ll find the same configuration of aisle ways, even the same configuration of lampshades against the back wall that existed at least as far back as the 1950s.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, who grew up in Sag Harbor, said he remembers the Variety Store from his youth, when it was more commonly called the Five and Ten and was owned by a Mr. Hansen.

“He had a little office upstairs where he could look out and make sure kids weren’t stealing anything,” Gilbride recalled with a chuckle.

Sag Harbor was different then, he said. Not only were there were more local businesses scattered throughout town, but they were an integral part of the community. Gilbride said he remembers when Mr. and Mrs. Korsak ran Korsak’s Deli on Madison Street where Cilantro’s is now (he still refers to it as Korsak’s), and when Stan Bubka ran the butcher shop close by.

“All that’s changed,” he added.

And while Gilbride said he believed Sag Harbor is weathering the current economic crisis relatively well, he recognized that family-run businesses have been largely affected by this change.

“The bigger chain stores are making it difficult for the mom and pops to survive.”

According to a Sag Harbor Express poll, 45 percent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: I do most of my basic shopping on Main Street. This means less than 50 percent of the local population is estimated to be shopping locally on a regular basis.

“In my case, I’ll sometimes spend a little more money to stay right here in the village [to shop],” Gilbride added. “But, it’s hard for some people. Maybe when I fully retire I won’t be able to do that anymore, either. These are tough times.”

So far, the Variety Store seems relatively shielded from the current strain of closing businesses. According to that same Express poll, 89 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: I regularly shop at the Variety Store.

Perhaps the most important advantage the Variety Store has is that the Bucking family owns the building on Main Street where the Variety Store currently stands. It happened by chance, as Field tells it. Her parents only intended to purchase the business itself, because it was all they could afford. But, at the last minute, they struck a deal with the building’s owner, allowing them to pay for the property gradually over time.

“In hindsight,” Field continued, “had that not happened, we wouldn’t be here today.”

However, this doesn’t mean the shop is impervious to market conditions.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the store now, as Field sees it, is the notion that the Bay Street Theatre might leave the village of Sag Harbor.

“I think it could be devastating,” she said.

She compared the current climate in Sag Harbor — namely the worry over the potential loss of its arts institution — to the closing of the Bulova Watchcase Factory in 1981, which caused many permanent residents to move out of Sag Harbor to find work elsewhere.

Field said the store managed to recover quickly from those losses when — as luck would have it — the boom in the tourist industry swiftly took hold of the town.

“Thank God for the tourism!” Field exclaimed. “Because that’s what’s ridden us through [the tough economy].”

“Things go in cycles,” she continued.

For this reason, Field said she’s excited by the construction of the Bulova condos, because she imagines they’ll bring a whole new crop of people to the village. However, she realizes that the future of the Variety Store is dependent on a slew of competing forces.

While the store has managed to find success in the wake of big-box superstore Kmart opening up in Bridgehampton 12 years ago, shopping habits have changed dramatically since her family took over the business in 1970.

“It was a different time then,” she said. “If you needed something, you just went downtown to get it. Now, everyone can order things online — people don’t think anything of hopping in the car to drive to Riverhead to go load-up on stuff.”

This is a reality nearly every business owner on Main Street must contend with in some way.

However, as far as business owner Linda Sylvester — who owns Sylvester & Co. on Main Street directly across form the Variety Store — is concerned, stores like the Sag Harbor Variety have a great deal of staying power.

“The species as a whole remains constant, no matter how technology evolves,” she said. “Shopping is completely emotional, it’s social. I don’t think going to Walmart is very satisfying, even if it’s cheap.”

Shopping, she continued, is not just the accumulation of goods. It’s a chance to be a part of a community, to hear voices and engage in conversations — in a way, it’s also an adventure. As she sees it, not only does the Variety Store carry basic items needed to run a household, physically it’s a maze of shelves brimming with a discordant array of trinkets and oddities that trigger an emotional reaction in many of its customers.

“I think the Dime Store should be considered a shrine,” she mused. “People go there every day to worship at it.”

She continued, “The Dime Store is an example of what’s old is new again. There’s a certain amount of sustainability and humanness that’s lacking in the corporate world.”

In the grand scheme of things, she said Sag Harbor Village has managed to preserve a strong sense of community. But, as for what the future holds, Sylvester can see the balance potentially shifting.

“I think Sag Harbor has a longer run than most of the Hampton villages because so many people on Main Street own their own buildings,” Sylvester explained. “When that cycles out, Sag Harbor will go the way of East Hampton [Village]” — which is filled with Manhattan-based retailers, many of whom close-up shop in the winter months — “And that will be a sad day.”

Sag Harbor resident Eric Cohen believes Sag Harbor has already lost some of the character that made it so appealing when he and his wife, Bobbie, moved to the area in 1979.

“Bobbie and I came here because it was kind of funky and run-down, and we liked that feeling,” Cohen explained. “We didn’t want to be living in one of the flashy parts of the Hamptons.”

While he said Sag Harbor will probably never mirror the change he’s witnessed in East Hampton Village, he said he thinks Sag Harbor Village is beginning to become a version of that. Ultimately, he’s worried that the increasing cost to rent will start to drive more small business owners off Main Street, and that rising property values will pressure building owners to put their buildings up for sale and cash-out for hefty profits.

Field said she has no intentions of leaving Main Street, or changing the Variety Store. In fact, when asked whether or not she would consider selling her building, she grimaced — “I don’t even want to think about it!” she said.

“My earliest memories are of the store,” Field began. “I remember when I was 10, my brothers and I would go into the basement and mark the back-to-school items. And now my kids have all done that.”

Field has thee children, as well as nieces who have all worked at the store. She said she has no idea whether or not one of them will be so inclined to take-on the family business; but, she has no intention of going anywhere.

“As long as all the independent stores are here, I think that Sag Harbor will still have a vibrant Main Street and a good community,” she said. “Of course, 50 years from now, if we’re the only store here, it’s not going to be a vibrant Main Street.”

But Field chooses not to dwell on such things.

“In a perfect world, I’d keep the Variety Store open forever!” she said with a big grin. “And Conca D’Oro would be right across the street and the Wharf Shop would down the way… Because I think what we have is great. And, yeah, in a perfect world I’d keep it that way.”

Sag Harbor Trustees Withdraw Bamboo Ban

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Following both praise and criticism by Sag Harbor residents over a proposed law that would have banned bamboo in the village, on Tuesday night the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees voted to withdraw the legislation from consideration.

“I have been talking to different people and I think the best thing to do is to advise people not to plant invasive species,” said trustee Robby Stein, first suggesting the proposed legislation be tabled and then suggesting it be withdrawn completely.

The rest of the village board supported Stein unanimously, including Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

The legislation was originally introduced in September after the village board heard the pleas of resident Pat Field this summer. Field said she has done almost everything imaginable in an effort to kill bamboo spreading onto her Madison Street property from a neighbor’s yard. The bamboo, said Field, was threatening her very home.

Originally, the legislation targeted all invasive species of plants, but was quickly scaled back to address only bamboo. According to the last version of the draft law, if adopted residents would not have been allowed to have bamboo “planted, maintained or otherwise permitted to exist within 10-feet of any property line, street, sidewalk or public right of way.”

However, the legislation was criticized by some in the village — including homeowners facing a similar battle as Field — as being too far reaching for the local municipality, and potentially costly for village residents who bought properties that already contained bamboo.

“I think the discussion we have had was  a great discussion, but it showed clearly this is a neighbor to neighbor issue and the bigger issue here is there are residents who have bamboo and have done everything right,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It is the encroachment onto neighbor’s properties that really needs to be addressed.”

Prior to the meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he would ask Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to explore what options the village has to ensure property owners are properly maintaining their bamboo and not negatively impacting their neighbors.

Village to Take Closer Look at Municipal Building

Following a special Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, December 8, the village has agreed to spend $15,000 to explore the structural integrity of the Municipal Building on Main Street.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the goal is to ascertain whether the third and fourth floors of the building — now used for solely storage and not open to the public — could be made accessible through an elevator in the building.

Currently, the Municipal Building has a lift installed to help disabled residents gain access to the second floor, which houses the village justice court, building department, main meeting room and the mayor’s office.

While much depends on what this structural assessment shows, Mayor Gilbride said it has long been a dream of his to have the third floor opened up for use by village government. An elevator is required by law for the village to place any entity needed by residents on the third floor.

Mayor Gilbride said he envisions moving the building department to the third floor, if an elevator could be installed, so that department would have more space in which to work. A mayor’s office and conference room for the village boards could also be carved out of that space, he added.

The village’s justice court has largely taken up most of the office space traditionally used as the conference room, as well as the mayor’s office.

According to Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, he will work with engineers to first try and locate the original schematics for the Municipal Building, which dates back to at least 1850, he said.

After that, ascertaining the possibilities for the Municipal Building should happen rather quickly, said Yardley.

“These are all new thoughts,” cautioned Mayor Gilbride. “The toughest part will be seeing if we can get an elevator in here at all.”

Unopposed Incumbents Keep Their Seats, As Sag Harbor Elects its First Village Justice in Decades

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East Hampton Town Supervisor candidate for the Independence and Democratic Parties, Zachary Cohen, talks with Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, Trustee Bruce Stafford and Sag Harbor Justice Andrea Schiavoni shortly before Gilbride and Schiavoni were re-elected to their positions in an uncontested village election Tuesday night.

It may have been an uncontested election Tuesday night in the Village of Sag Harbor, but what residents may not have realized while casting their ballots was it was also a historic vote.

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Andrea Harum Schiavoni became the first elected Justice for the Village of Sag Harbor since the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees debuted the village’s own justice court last December. Schiavoni, who was appointed as the village justice by Mayor Brian Gilbride last fall, is the first Sag Harbor justice elected in the village in decades.

Schiavoni earned 58 votes in Tuesday’s election. Including four absentee ballots, a total of 63 votes was cast in uncontested race for village justice, as well as village mayor and for two trustee seats.

Prior to the polls closing at the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department on Brick Kiln Road, Schiavoni – who also serves as a Southampton Town Justice and practices out of the Sag Harbor branch of her deceased father’s firm, Harum & Harum – was reluctant to even discuss possible victory, despite a lack of contenders for her position.

“I have never been unopposed before, so let’s just see,” she said. “I won’t quite believe it until it happens.”

After the votes we tallied, she admitted she is simply pleased to continue to be a part of the court, and its development, as it moves out of its infancy.

“It has been working so well, I am just so happy to be able to continue what we have started here, to make sure we get to the point where it moves like clockwork,” said Schiavoni.

Six months after the creation of the court, Schiavoni said she is prepping for the busiest time of the year, but that opening the court in December was done intentionally, so everyone could get their feet wet before the summer season, which naturally comes with more court cases.

“The more we do it, the easier it flows,” she said.

Schiavoni was not alone on the Sag Harbor Party banner, of course. Mayor Brian Gilbride, Deputy Mayor Tim Culver and Trustee Ed Gregory easily retained their seats on the board.

Gregory received the most votes, earning 59 in his favor. Gregory was followed by Gilbride who earned 55 votes and Culver, who nabbed 55.

“It was what I expected,” said Gilbride after the results were announced. “I never expected to get all 63 votes and I shouldn’t. I remember in the 1970s, (former Southampton Town Supervisor) Marty Lang said, ‘In this job, you make enemies and you lose friends.’ When all is said and done, I work for the village and I am happy to do it.”

Short Term Costs for Long Wharf Could be Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

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By Kathryn G. Menu


According to a report compiled by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works and sent to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, while Long Wharf has “no structural deficiencies,” short term repairs to the wharf will cost the village about $340,000 should Sag Harbor Village officials decide to take the county up on an offer to buy the pier for $1.

Included in the purchase of Long Wharf is also ownership of Windmill Beach, and the deed to a Hempstead Street property the county has previously offered the village for the development of affordable housing.

However, according to a larger engineer’s report, furnished to the village on Wednesday afternoon, sometime in the next decade the village will need to spend $621,000 to cover repairs to the wharf to ensure no serious structural damage occurs as a result of not keeping up with the maintenance of the facility.

In the initial letter, Suffolk County Department of Public Works Chief Deputy Commissioner James Peterman writes that while Long Wharf was once owned by the Village of Sag Harbor, it was transferred to the county and placed in the county road system, he says, “to take advantage of certain funding opportunities then available under the New York State Highway Law.”

“Today, Long Wharf is a central part of the village’s downtown area and provides parking and recreational opportunities to residents and visitors,” writes Peterman.

While the county has paid the bill for the long-term maintenance of Long Wharf as its owners, the village has taken in revenues from dockage at the site, last year earning $93,000.

At this point in time, continues Peterman, the county would like to transfer the ownership of Long Wharf and Windmill Beach to the village, making the first formal offer by the county to Mayor Gilbride and the board of trustees.

Attached to Peterman’s letter, are the estimated costs to clean, paint and refurbish the wharf area, at a total price tag of $340,000.

According to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, that $340,000 in work would need to be performed in the next few years to ensure the long-term structural health of Long Wharf. The $621,000 costs laid out in the engineer’s report detail long-term maintenance required at the site. Schneiderman said if the county retained ownership of Long Wharf, it would likely seek to bond for the whole of the project rather than parse it out.

Schneiderman said he has been debating with county officials over the Long Wharf issue, trying to get an agreement for $340,000 in funding for the Village of Sag Harbor. While the county cannot bond a project and then sell the subject property without charging the buyer for all costs, Schneiderman suggested that if the county retained a partial ownership for the life of the bond, perhaps a deal could be struck.

However, while he supports that kind of measure, Schneiderman said he has not found similar support within the county.

“The county’s position is to give the wharf to the village, as is, and not to do anything” said Schneiderman. “I am just not sure I will be able to get that approved. The county is strapped for cash and can’t see why it would maintain and own this.”

Schneiderman said he believes it is in Sag Harbor Village’s best interest to retain Long Wharf and Windmill Beach as its own, and that he would hate to see a worse case scenario emerge, where the county sold the properties to a private owner who would then set up a paid parking system, and charge for docking and use of the facility for private events like the Bay Street Theatre Gala.

“It’s in the village’s interest to own Long Wharf so they can have total control over its future,” he said.

Village trustees have discussed taking ownership of Long Wharf in earnest, with a majority of the board appearing in support of the concept. Last month, trustees laid out tentative plans to create a budget line to fund the long-term maintenance of Long Wharf by socking away $100,000 each budget year, ideally funded through dockage at the site. Harbor Master Bob Bori has also discussed expanding the village’s transient docks as a way to increase revenues.

Schneiderman suggested additionally that a “Friends of Long Wharf” organization could be created and suspected many members of the community would be keen to support the long-term costs of maintaining Long Wharf and perhaps making it more pedestrian friendly.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Gilbride said he had received both reports and would discuss them in detail with the village board of trustees before the village makes a formal decision.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting is on December 14 at 6 p.m.



Sag Harbor Village Adopts Budget

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On Friday, April 16, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8,229,019 spending plan for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a 2.43 percent increase over this year’s budget with $7,703,690 earmarked to cover the village’s general operating budget and the remaining $525,329 accounting for Sag Harbor’s sewer fund.

The adoption came after board members decided to scrap plans to fund the replacement of 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses and back up air bottles for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department at a cost of $130,000. The department hopes to replace its entire stock of 54 air packs in the next two years as many are decades old, some hailing from the 1970s. Newer models are more efficient and not as heavy, reducing the burden on firefighters during duty, according to department officials. The total cost of the replacement would come in around $320,000.

The department has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, which will be doled out in the fall and could cover some 80 percent of the cost. Chief Robert Mitchell had hoped the village would budget it a portion of the replacement cost in case the village isn’t awarded the grant monies. Conversely, members of the village board expressed worry that budgeting the expenditure could put the grant at risk, stating they would rather buoy the department’s truck reserve this year, and address the air packs next year should the department not receive the grant.

On Friday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the board had decided to remove the $130,000 originally earmarked for the packs, and has instead added an additional $25,000 to the fire department’s truck reserve, bringing that expenditure up to $50,000.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees said it was a priority to keep spending down for the coming fiscal year, however after mandatory contractual expenses and other non discretionary spending was laid into the budget, the board was forced to cut a number of requests by departments, including an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 for a new fire boat and Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano’s request for an additional police officer. Currently, that department is running with 11 full-time officers, while the State of New York has reported efficiency and oversight in the police department would be better served with 14 full-time officers in the village.

The reduction of the budget leaves the final tax rate at 0.002621. According to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder, a house assessed at $795,000 can expect to see a $14.57 increase in village taxes in the next fiscal year.

The Problem is Us: Forum Seeks Solutions for Managing Trash

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Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride remembers how the village used to deal with trash. Before the 1960s, Sag Harbor had several satellite spots where residents would dump, and Southampton Town would later burn, their garbage. Over the 1960s and 1970s, the town found a cheaper way of handling household waste: landfills. But by the following decade, town officials became more aware of the impact trash had on the environment and slowly started to recycle, noted Gilbride at a recent “Talkin’ Trash” forum hosted by 725 Green and Sustainable Southampton. 

The town has since made great strides in disposing of its waste since those days. Southampton has closed the landfill and operates four waste management transfer stations. But the town still fails to stack up to the efforts made by other municipalities on Long Island. 

According to a 2009 Long Island Recycling Report Card compiled by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), Southampton Town was given a C grade for their waste management program. The town lost points, said CCE representative Maureen Dolan Murphy, because it lacks adequate public education programs and fails to coordinate recycling with local businesses and schools. Murphy did note that the “Green Bag” policy, where residents pay for a trash bag to drop off at a transfer station, is one of the few initiatives of its kind on Long Island and called it “cutting edge.”

She pointed out town residents opt into purchasing the “Green Bags,” whereas in Southold all residents are required to participate in the town’s waste management program. Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot has previously stated that only 15 percent of town citizens use the town’s transfer stations, but town councilman Chris Nuzzi argued this figure was debatable. 

Over the course of the meeting, the audience further questioned where local garbage ends up. Gilbride, a former sanitation supervisor for the town and a manager for the private hauling company Emil Norsic & Son, explained that most common household garbage is transported to a Winter Brothers transfer station in Yaphank or Babylon. It is either incinerated there or bailed and then brought to a major landfill in either Ohio, Virginia or Pennsylvania. 

“We are dumping our trash in someone’s backyard,” remarked an audience member. 

Others worried their materials aren’t actually being re-used. Gilbride pointed out that recyclables have become a commodity and the market for these items is often volatile. 

“The prices [for trash and recyclables] are no different than the stock market … You may get $25 for a ton of newspapers one day but I have seen people get $100 a ton,” noted Gilbride. He added that there is an inherent cost to price, collect, store and sell these items. 

Because there isn’t a market for certain materials like glass, reported Jeremy Samuelson speaking as a representative from Group for the East End, these items often aren’t recycled. 

“We don’t want a trailer of glass to sit somewhere waiting for the market to respond. It isn’t workable,” remarked Samuelson. 

Based on her research, 725 Green Chairwoman Gigi Morris said she believes cardboard and number-one and -two plastics are regularly recycled but glass is rarely processed for reuse. Michael Pope, a former consultant to the Department of Environmental Conservation, said glass is cheaper to produce than to recycle. 

Morris hopes to help the town find ways to promote recycling. Murphy recommended local municipalities install recycling receptacles in downtown areas. Separating recycled items before they are transported to the transfer stations to the west of the East End will heighten the value of the product, added Gilbride. Nuzzi further argued that local public policy should reflect a commitment to disposing of waste in a proper manner. 

Over the course of the evening, the notion of consuming less and producing less waste percolated throughout the discussion. Long Island residents create around seven pounds of garbage per resident per day, while the national average is closer to 4.3 pounds.

“A zero waste policy is emerging,” reported Murphy. “The goal is to not produce waste — and recycle and compost whatever you can.” 

Of the waste created by Long Island residents, Samuelson added, “we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.” 

Brian Gilbride

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web Brian Gilbride

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on his first 100 days in office, the challenges ahead and putting on a pair of ice skates.


Since taking office as mayor, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

I don’t know if it is so much a challenge as it is a readjustment. As a board member and deputy mayor everything you do is on a regular basis, but as mayor I stop at the village every morning to see what is going on. Like I did when I was deputy mayor, I still meet with [Sag Harbor Superintendent of Public Works] Jim [Early] every morning and as liaison to the police I speak with [Sag Harbor Village Police Chief] Tom [Fabiano]. Then throughout the day I get quite a few calls from the village on the day-to-day operations. I have to say, since becoming mayor, I have a much better respect for anyone who has served in this position, but I really do enjoy it. In Sag Harbor we have a great staff – everyone is a team player. I am lucky in that when I was on the board I was a team player and now that I am mayor, I have a great team. The board doesn’t always agree, but I think that is part of being a great team. I believe we are pretty effective and we get a lot done.


Other than the schedule, does it feel different serving as mayor rather than trustee?

Honestly, it is like when you are the second chief in the fire department. You can blame the first assistant and the chief if something came up. And when you’re the first assistant chief you can blame the chief; but as mayor, all the blame stops with me. Some days, I don’t want to say it’s overwhelming, but you feel the decisions you make have to be made in the best interest of the village as a whole and sometimes that is a heavy weight because what you can think is a simple decision as mayor can have a big effect throughout the village. But, at the end of the day, I talked to [deputy mayor] Tiffany [Scarlato] right before I came [to this interview], I talked to [trustee] Tim [Culver] this morning, I speak with [trustee] Robby [Stein] often and I see [trustee] Ed Gregroy daily. We communicate daily and I am lucky to be able to bounce a lot of ideas off the board as we move forward.


One of your biggest public battles, which has received a lot of community support, has been over the ownership MTA roadbed. Where is the village in that process?

We are firmly behind trying to get a park [at the village owned beachfront and adjacent sliver of the old MTA rail bed which a developer in the village is also seeking possession of] done sometime in 2010, or at least get started at that point. As I have mentioned before, we hope the MTA comes to its senses and either gives us an opportunity to buy the property or, another option [the village attorney] has advised me of, is eminent domain, as fair market value [of the property] has been established. I do hope that some day the developer gets a project together next door, but we have not changed our position on this park. I have had many residents from Sag Harbor and North Haven contact me trying to make this park a reality. 


During the campaign you often referred to yourself as a fiscal conservative concerned with keeping the village budget in line. Has this year’s budget been sustainable with spending and do you see next year’s budget as one that will need to be trimmed?

I don’t think we can trim next year’s budget. I think it will have to go up. I think we have cut the budget to where we cannot cut anymore without cutting services and I am not prepared to do that. I believe we will have to look at some things this year, maybe as early as October, about spending. It might be unpopular, but my thing is this is what we have budgeted for, so how can we address it. We have a couple of line items to look at right now and we are about a third of the way through the [fiscal] year, so I will ask the village treasurer to run reports for the first four months and will give a report on that at the October trustees meeting.

 

Moving forward, what are some of the bigger initiatives you would like to see the village take on in the next year?

In the next year, the 2010 budget will be limited because I am pretty sure at this point we will see a tax increase. First on the agenda is getting the park alongside the [Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial] bridge started. The other thing I know we will look at in the budget process is that Trustee Stein has started looking at “greening” the village and has already looked at the possibility of solar panels on the village sewage treatment plant and other buildings. Tim [Culver] has taken a hard look at the waterfront and has some great ideas on how we can make a little more money down there. Tiffany [Scarlato] has been working hard continuing with the new zoning code and a new wetlands code. Ed Gregory will work with the fire and ambulance squads, and every year those guys are a good bunch that work well with the village in telling us what they need to provide the great service they do to the village.

We will see what 2010 brings.


If the village does move forward with a planned ice rink, will you don your skates?

Just so you can get a picture, yes. I would love nothing more than to have a picture with my three grandchildren and myself on that ice rink.