Tag Archive | "Buckskill Winter Club"

Holiday Fun for All

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by Deborah Skinner


The holiday vacation is right around the corner. School will let out Friday, December 23, for a winter recess somewhat shorter than you are used to — just one week. That is still enough time for many of you to travel to be with family or to take a lovely vacation. Others will remain close to home.

Here’s what our area has to offer during the coming days and the coming weeks:

Many students from Pierson Middle School are getting their play practice time in before the holidays, for the upcoming play — “Grease!”

They get down to the Community Room Program, after school in the Pierson cafeteria, to take a break from the chorus, dance or main character readings. You can hear the excitement as they tackle their parts. Look for the play to take place early in February.

On Friday, December 16, through Sunday, December 18, Studio 3 will debut “Mixed Nuts” at Bay Street Theatre.

“Mixed Nuts” is a classical Holiday Nutcracker… with a twist, where jazz, contemporary and hip hop are mixed in with traditional ballet. Come bring your families and support the many Sag Harbor dancers who are involved in this amazing performance. You may contact Melissa Spano Russo or the Bay Street Theatre box office in Sag Harbor at 725-9500 for more information or tickets.

Buckskill Winter Club, a seasonal ice rink and club house in East Hampton, will re-open for the season on

Friday, December 16. The Buckskill Winter Club, which first opened late 2004, will return for another winter season offering hours of open skating during your vacation. They also offer junior hockey, junior figure skating and evening firefly public skating parties. For more information call 324-2243 or take the short drive down Route 114 to 178 Buckskill Road in East Hampton.

The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau is holding open auditions right after vacation, for the fifth annual Hampton Idol competition on Friday, January 6, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hampton Bays Community Center located at 25 Ponquogue Avenue in downtown Hampton Bays.

Any Southampton Town middle or high school student in grades 7 to 12, is eligible to enter the audition with a solo performance of their choosing.

Sag Harbor has had a number of finalists over the years; the next winner could be you. Contestants should bring their own music without vocals. Finalists selected will perform in a Hampton Idol competition to be held March 24 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Southampton High School. Admission is $10. For additional audition information please call the Southampton Town Youth Bureau at (631) 702-2425 or visit them on the web at  www.town.southampton.ny.us. Information can be found by scrolling down the Department Directory to Human Services/Youth Bureau.

Sign up now! The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau is sponsoring a ski and snowboard trip to Belleayre Mountain on Saturday, January 22, for youth 12 years old and up. The $80 per person fee includes roundtrip transportation, an all-mountain lift ticket, lunch and a free beginner lesson. Equipment rental is an additional $25.

The bus will depart from Red Creek Park (Hampton Bays) at 4:30 a.m. and will return to Red Creek Park at approximately 9 p.m. Chaperones are provided by the Youth Bureau and families are welcomed. Space is limited. First come, first served. For a registration form call 702-2425 for more information.

If we are lucky enough to have a little snow during this vacation, remember the Park & Recreation Department’s 9th Annual Snowman contest. Get outside and get to work creating your snowman, give him a title and send a picture of the snowman and the artist(s) to the Snowman Contest. Have fun. Be Creative. Win Prizes. Call Southampton Town Parks & Recreation Department at 728-8585 for all the details. Contest entry is free and open to residents of all ages.

Whether you spend your holiday near your Christmas tree or near a palm tree, enjoy the school break wherever you are.

Happy Holidays!


Sag Harbor Goes to Bid for Ice Rink

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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.”


Sidewalk Sale

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.

Trustees Hope for Village Ice Rink

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web ice rink

The Village of Sag Harbor may be the newest community to boast an ice rink for its residents this winter if trustee Tim Culver has his way.

During a village board meeting earlier this month Sag Harbor Business Association Chair Ted Conklin voiced his support for the concept, which Culver admitted this week was his idea as a way to keep the village vibrant during the bleak winter months.

While the concept is in preliminary stages with neither a site or an operator confirmed, Conklin supported the idea of a Long Island Avenue parcel owned by National Grid as the location for a village ice rink, noting it could be another feather in Sag Harbor’s cap. That Long Island Avenue parcel was recently remediated by National Grid in an ambitious nine-month clean up that wrapped up at the beginning of this summer. Village officials were able to negotiate a deal with the utility to lease the space for parking for the summer season, although that lease expires in November. According to Culver, the village has yet to reach out to National Grid about having an ice rink during the winter months on the property, but that he would hope to find another space should the utility be opposed to the idea.

“I think it’s a great idea, and that would seem to be the logical spot, but if we can’t do it there, we can do it somewhere else,” said Culver on Wednesday. “The point is the ice rink would be a draw to the village.”

Other areas for consideration, said Culver, could include Marine Park.

“It would become a point of attraction and a benefit for the people of the village,” said Culver, noting if the National Grid site was ultimately used the loss of parking spaces in the village would not be detrimental due to the time of year.

While residents on the East End have long enjoyed the winter pastime on area ponds, in recent years communities have largely embraced maintained ice rink facilities. In East Hampton, after years of controversy over its legality, the Buckskill Winter Club operates a rink on the Buckskill Tennis Club’s tennis courts. This past winter was the second year Southampton Village boasted its own rink, at Agawam Park, although unlike the winter club’s facility that rink is weather dependent and as a result its inaugural year was largely unsuccessful due to warm winter temperatures.

“It is my though to find private people to run this,” said Culver. “I don’t want the village to be in the ice rink business.”

Culver said he would like to see a facility not dependent on weather in order to create a more reliable venture for whatever operator the village chooses to run the rink. According to Culver, the next step is to begin a formal process of selecting a site and going out to bid for an operator.

“It is not just for the weekend people,” continued Culver. “If you are a kid out here, unless you want to join the Polar Bear club, there is not a lot to do.”

Buckskill Winter Club Wins Case Against Town

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It appears as if East Hampton residents will not have to wait for town pond to freeze over before polishing their skates this winter. Late last week, a judge ordered the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals to issue the Buckskill Winter Club a certificate of occupancy for its ice rink.

In a decision dated October 17, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur G. Pitts annulled the zoning board’s determination denying Doug and Kathryn DeGroot’s appeal for a certificate of occupancy for their seasonal ice rink, and ordered the board to issue the document.

According to DeGroot’s attorney, Theodore Sklar, winning the case paves the way for the popular ice rink to reopen this winter after dormancy for the last two years.

“Hopefully we will be skating shortly,” said Sklar. “I know Rockefeller Plaza is already open.”

The town has had an injunction preventing the club from operating during the last two years while the case was being hammered out. The town still does have the ability to appeal the case, although it is the DeGroots’ hope, said Sklar, that it will instead choose to work with the club rather than expend more money fighting the case.

The decision is the latest in what has been a three-year battle between the owners of the Buckskill Winter Club and the Town of East Hampton.

In December of 2004, the town passed a law permitting the construction of seasonal ice rinks on the club’s tennis courts in East Hampton. In mid-December of that year, the DeGroots filed an application with the town to convert four of their tennis courts into an ice rink, which at the time required only a building permit. They opened for their first season in January 2005, albeit without a certificate of occupancy for the ice rink, which would become the crux of the town’s case against the club in years to come.

Following the Buckskill Winter Club’s first season, in response to complaints from a handful of neighbors around the club, the town board passed a new law breaking ice rinks into two tiers for town approval. Seasonal ice rinks like the one already at Buckskill, which exceed 7,200 square feet, require site plan approval, not just a building permit, under that law.

It was during the DeGroots’ second season operating as an ice rink that they were denied a certificate of occupancy by East Hampton’s building inspector Don Sharkey. Without the certificate of occupancy, the Winter Club would not be considered pre-existing, non-conforming to the new town law, meaning the DeGroots would have to go back before the town planning board for site plan approval before they could legally operate.

In a January 2008 hearing of the zoning board of appeals, Sharkey asserted that when he inspected the rink in 2005 for the certificate of occupancy he found items at the club that he said constituted structures that were not covered under the DeGroots’ original building permit. In a 2006 letter to the zoning board, Sharkey listed the items, which included a shed for the Zamboni, a generator, an American with Disabilities Act compliant ramp and the dasher boards with glass backstops.

Following Sharkey’s denial of the certificate of occupancy, and after seeking relief from the zoning board in August of 2006 and being denied in the fall of that year, the DeGroot’s filed suit against the town.

In an October 2007 decision, Justice Pitts ordered the zoning board to re-hear the DeGroots’ case to overturn the denial with him in attendance. Sklar had argued to the court that he was unable to cross-examine Sharkey at the first zoning board hearing as he was not present, only sending correspondence to the board stating his case for refusal. The court also deemed in the cross-examination, the DeGroots should be given the opportunity to find out how they could comply and obtain a certificate of occupancy.

In January of 2008, the zoning board did re-hear the case, with Sharkey cross-examined in front of the board.

At the new hearing, Sharkey continued to maintain he was unaware of the scope of the project the DeGroot’s were planning at the Winter Club – a statement Doug DeGroot contended was false.

Sklar also argued in front of the board that many of the structures cited by Sharkey had since been removed, including a Zamboni shed and generator. The ADA compliant ramp was not removed, and Sklar added that the dasher boards with glass backstops were allowed by the town code under the definition for a playing court, including an ice rink.

Despite the testimony, in February of 2008, the board denied the DeGroot’s appeal for a second time, ruling these aspects of the rink were not included in the original building permit. They did choose to omit the dasher boards and glass, agreeing with Sklar’s interpretation of the town code.

Pitts disagreed with the board, and citing testimony from the zoning board hearing last January, struck down their decision.

In addition to agreeing with the DeGroot’s that the club is in fact a pre-existing, non-conforming entity to the town’s two-tier ice rink law, Pitts noted Sharkey himself admitted at the zoning board hearing that the Zamboni shed and generator had been removed from the property. As the board had already agreed with the DeGroot’s contention that the dasher boards and glass were legal under the town code all that remained on Sharkey’s list of unapproved structures was the ADA-compliant ramp.

Pitts simply points to a question asked by Sklar at the zoning board hearing, and Sharkey’s corresponding answer as evidence the ramp should not be considered an issue in the way of the town granting the club’s certificate of occupancy.

“Well, is there any reason why you couldn’t issue a C.O. for an ice rink that allows disabled people to get on the ice rink,” asked Sklar.

“Of course not,” replied Sharkey.