Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Sag Harbor’s Wharf Shop Gears Up for the Holiday Season

Tags: , , , , ,

Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

By Emily Weitz

Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington, the mother and daughter team behind The Wharf Shop in Sag Harbor, have a holiday tradition of their own: manning their toy store until the last gift of Christmas is purchased on Christmas Eve. But these ladies start gearing up for the holiday months in advance. While people are still strolling through the store in flip-flops and cover-ups, the staff of The Wharf Shop is at the trade show in New York City, picking out their selection of gift ideas for the holiday season. And while it’s always a bit of a gamble what’s going to be the next “it” gift, The Wharf Shop rests on a foundation of the tried-and-true toys that have brightened children’s eyes for generations.

They were confident that the Frozen storm that swept the world would still be going strong into the holidays, so The Wharf Shop is stocked with specialty items inspired by the Disney movie. But they also thought the new Paddington movie, which was slotted for a November release, would be a big influence on holiday shoppers. When the release was postponed until January, The Wharf Shop found their shelves a little more crowded with Paddington items than they might have otherwise.

But whatever the trends, Ms. Barry and Ms. Waddington, as well as the store’s longtime staff members, want to ensure they provide shoppers with exactly what they want while at the same time, inspiring parents and shoppers by offering toys that have an educational or creative value.

“We curate our inventory,” said Ms. Waddington. “We try to have inventory that is positively educational, that has value for play.”

Some of the most reliable, inspiring toys are some of the simplest. Christmas crackers, which are foil wrapped cylinders with a toy inside, were a tradition when Ms. Barry was growing up in England.

“I don’t think there’s been a Christmas in my life that I didn’t have Christmas crackers,” she said, “and I bring that tradition with me and pass it down.”

They put together a gift basket that includes only toys that have been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. It includes old favorites like the Slinky, the Yo-Yo, and the Frisbee, among other things. Along with the items is a document, written up by Ms. Waddington, that tells the history of each toy.

“The Frisbee,” she explained, “was originally a pie tin from the Frisbee baking company, and college students started throwing them around. That’s how they became a toy, in 1908.”

Tying all of these toys together is a stick, which was inducted into the Hall of Fame as perhaps the most basic and beloved toy of all time.

“The other day,” said Ms. Waddington, “after we put our baskets together, we had kids come in with sticks they had picked up off the street.”

But they are not solely about nostalgia. For all the arguments against plastic and technology in toys, there are also great educational strides that have been taken in the toy industry.

“There are lots of new, innovative toys that have come out,” said Ms. Barry. “A perfect example is this game.”

She brings out “Robot Turtles”, a game that teaches young people how to code. Computer coding is now being taught in school, and this game makes it accessible to even very young children.

The ladies of the Wharf Shop love the holiday season, and not only because it brings a boost to business at the darkest time of year.

“Main Street is so gorgeous and inviting with all the lights and decorations,” said Ms. Waddington with a smile. “And customers are genuinely in a good mood.”

Each year, they pay attention to who the last customer is on Christmas Eve.

“Mom and I close the shop each Christmas Eve around 6 p.m.,” said Ms. Waddington, “and every year we notice who comes in.”

Christmas Eve day feels like a party: they have a buffet for the staff in the back, and even staff members who aren’t working will often stop in to celebrate.

“It’s such a celebration,” said Ms. Barry, “and the atmosphere in the shop is so special.”

What they love about running a small shop in a small village is that they become part of people’s Christmas traditions, and they get to know their customers.

“Every year one customer needs to buy a Christmas mouse,” said Ms. Waddington, “and another always needs a German Christmas ornament. Another woman always picks out ornaments for all her nieces and nephews, and we inscribe them with the names and date. We never want to be an Internet business, because we enjoy interacting with our customers.”

The Wharf Shop is located at 69 Main Street in Sag Harbor and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (631) 725-0420 or visit wharfshop.com.



Snail of Approval Awarded to North Fork Table & Inn

Tags: , , , ,

The North Fork Table & Inn.

The North Fork Table & Inn.

Slow Food East End announced last week it has awarded its first Snail of Approval to the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold. Since it was founded a decade ago, the North Fork Table & Inn has offered diners a progressive American menu of seasonally inspired, locally sourced biodynamic and organic produce, fresh seafood and artisanal cheeses led by chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming.

The Snail of Approval was created by Slow Food East End to support business establishments that contribute to the quality, sustainability, and authenticity of food and beverages on the East End. The nomination process is now open to qualifying restaurants. Other food purveyors and wineries will be considered in the coming year. In acknowledgement of a restaurant’s adherence to the Slow Food principals of “good, fair and clean” food, Slow Food East End will publicize the business in its web page, newsletter and social media. Approved restaurants will also receive window decals bearing Slow Food’s snail logo to promote their business to the public. Any Slow Food East End member may nominate an establishment. For detailed Information on how to apply, send an email to snailofapproval@slowfoodeastend.org.

The East End Chapter of Slow Food is one of about 200 chapters in Slow Food USA, a non-profit, member-supported organization that advocates for healthy food produced with minimal damage to the environment using honest and fair production practices. Slow Food USA is part of Slow Food International with 100,000 members in over 102 countries. For more information, visit slowfoodeastend.org

Condo Plan for Schiavoni Building Put on Hold

Tags: , ,


By Stephen J. Kotz

The former G.F. Schiavoni Plumbing warehouse on Jermain Avenue, which has been vacant for several years, has most recently served as a tableau for graffitti artists who have painted it with a giant pink whale, the word FREEDUM and a number of tags.

But now, its new owners, 64 Jermain LLC, want to convert the two-story brick and concrete  former factory building into four condominiums.

The most basic of plans were unveiled before the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, which has been asked to consider changing the use of the property from warehouse/office to condominums, where both would be considered nonconforming in the neighborhood, which is zoned for half-acre residential lots.

The plans showed the existing building being used for the condominums, although no floor plans or elevations were provided. Each unit would have its own deck and pool. Most of the property, about four acres to the rear, which is largely wetlands, would be preserved, with the development rights being transferred to Suffolk County, according to attorney Dennis Downes, who represented the applicants.

According to the application filed with the village building department, 64 Jermain LLC, has a mailing address at 102 Franklin Street in New York City. David Siolverstein and Markus Dochantschi signed paperwork, idenfitying themselves as “members” of the limited liability corporation.

Although Mr. Downes told the board it was merely being asked to consider the change in use, the board’s attorney, Denise Schoen had other ideas. She said if the ZBA ruled on the application, it would be considered “segmentation” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which is prohibited, “because we haven’t done a full environmental review.” Segmentation occurs when a reviewing board does not look at the total scope of a project during the environmental review process.

She said the application should first be reviewed by the planning board, which would weigh in on the site plan before deciding whether or not to refer it to the ZBA for the use change application.

But Mr. Downes, referring to recent staff changes in the building department, said he had been told by “three building inspectors over six months” that the first step would be to come before the ZBA first.

Ms. Schoen also questioned whether the existing use, as a warehouse and office, had been abandoned by the Schiavonis after they moved their plumbing business out, although Mr. Downes argued that courts had ruled that a use could not be considered abandoned if a property were on the market. If the use were to be abandoned, the property would revert to the half-acre, single-family residential zoning like the rest of the surrounding area.

Before tabling the application, which the board’s environmental consultant, Richard Warren, said would have to be subjected to another public notice, the board opened the matter for public comment.

“Condominiums in the existing building sounds very appealing,” said Anita Guarino, a resident of Joels Lane. “Condominiums with four pools not so much.” She said her major concern was that the wetlands would be protected and that neighbors would be kept informed of the progress of the application.

Paul Babcock, the owner of Cappy Amundsen’s former studio at the corner of Madison Street and Jermain Avenue, was also before the board, seeking a change of use that would allow him to rent a portion of the ground floor of his building to an antique shop or as an office.

His attorney, Mr. Downes, said, that in the 1990s, the ZBA allowed the building, a former neighborhood store, to be converted into three apartments and a studio space for an artist. Various tenants have tried to make a go of it, to no avail, the attorney said. Mr. Babcock was cited by village code enforcement because the previous tenant sold antiques from the space, Mr. Downes said.

Board member Tim McGuire questioned whether the ZBA should allow a retail use. “Do we want to legalize and introduce a business in the middle of a residential area?” he asked.

Fellow board member Scott Baker, who said he lives nearby, said that Sag Harbor, indeed, had a history of small stores, scattered throughout its neighborhoods, but questioned if allowing changes would create a parking problem.

The board tabled the matter, pending receipt of a scaled floor plan, showing the 508-square-foot area,  Mr. Downes said, would be used for a store or office.

In a straw vote, over the objection of member Brendan Skislock, the board said it would not be inclined to grant at least two of five variances requested by Steven Barr to build an addition to his house at 43 Howard Street.

One of the variances turned down would have allowed 23.7-percent building coverage, where the code allows 20 percent, and the other would have sought total coverage of 32 percent, where the code allows 25 percent.

Mr. Baker, who is Mr. Barr’s architect, recused himself from the review. “Fundamentally, the project is too large,” said Neil Slevin, the board’s alternate, who sat in for Mr. Baker.

“This is a very large additon to the historic house,” said Mr. McGuire. “I think it needs a redesign.”

Chairman Anton Hagen said he regretted that the hearing was closed the same night it was opened, on November 25, because it did not allow an opportunity for the project to be scaled back.

At that hearing, Mia Grosjean, who lives next door, and two other neighbors, objected to the size of the addition. Although Mr. Barr reached an accomodation with the other two neighbors, Ms. Grosjean continued her opposition.

Although she was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, she tried to listen in, via the cell phone of Jayne Young of Save Sag Harbor who had her on speaker phone. Twice, Ms. Grosjean’s voice interupted the proceedings when she said she could not hear what was going on, causing Mr. Hagen to ask for silence.

After the board took its vote, Mr. Downes questioned members whether Ms. Grosjean had discussed the application with them after the hearing. Mr. Hagen said she had spoken to him, to ask if there was a possibility that the deadline for comment could be extended beyound December 1 but had not discussed specifics of the case or tried to sway his vote.







ARB Okays Hand House Restoration

Tags: ,

Hand house

The historic Captain David Hand House. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

A plan to renovate the historic Captain David Hand House on Church Street in Sag Harbor was given the green light by the Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review on Thursday, December 11.

Board members responded enthusiastically to a presentation by Stuart Phillips, the owner of Workshop 360, a New York architectural firm.

“Our intent is to showcase the house as an historic jewel of Sag Harbor,” Mr. Phillips wrote in an overview of the project he gave to the board, “to make it look like it did when it was originally built.”

The house, believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, standing in the village, is owned by Alex Akavan, who recently purchased it from John Krug. Mr. Krug, in turn, had complained that the tiny cottage had suffered damage to its foundation as a result of the major construction project that has been transforming the former Bulova factory into the upscale Watchcase condominiums.

Mr. Phillips told the board protecting the integrity of the building was the first goal. “It’s in danger of falling down,” he told the board, pointing out that the foundation needs to be shored up, walls straightened, joists and rafters replaced or reinforced, and window frames straightened and repaired.

Various renovations undertaken over the years “were hard on the house,” Mr. Phillips said. “What needs to be done to it is to make it special again.”

The plans call for the façade and most of the exterior of the house to remain intact, except for the addition of a shed dormer on the rear, which will provide additional exterior space in a second floor bedroom. Mr. Phillips also presented plans to extend the existing foundation to the rear of the house, creating more usable ground floor space and a back deck resting on stone walls.  The plans also call for replacing the front fence and the elimination of a blacktopped parking area on the north side of the house. Parking will be provided on grass pavers next to the building.

The reception for Mr. Phillips’ plan was a 180-degree turn from that given to Mr. Akavan’s first architect, Anthony Vermandois, who appeared before the board during an informal discussion in October with sketches for a modest addition to the rear of the house. Board members were flat-out hostile to the idea, catching Mr. Vermandois by surprise, who said he was only trying to gauge the board’s reaction and get a sense of the direction it wanted him to take.

According to a “Guide to Sag Harbor” by Henry Weisbery and Lisa Donneson, the Hand house was built in Southampton before 1732. It is possible the house was actually built in the 17th century. The house was moved from Southampton to Sagaponack in 1752 and then moved to the intersection of Madison and Main Streets at the site now occupied by the Stanton house. In 1840 it was moved to its current location on Church Street.

The house belonged to David Hand, a legendary figure in Sag Harbor who outlived five wives all whom he is buried beside in Oakland Cemetery. Author James Fenimore Cooper was said to have been so impressed with Captain Hand that he modeled the character Natty Bumpo in the “Leatherstocking Tales” after him.

Andrew Grossman’s plan to do a major renovation of a house at 11 Howard Street also caught the board’s attention. His architect, Bill Beeton, has proposed moving the existing house to the center of the lot but no closer to the street, and replacing a rear portion of it with a new addition. Board members questioned the appearance of the house, which would be in natural clapboard along the street and shingled on the sides. They also did not care for a proposed breezeway leading to a proposed new garage.

Board chairman Cee Scott Brown said the house looked more something that would be built in a Bridgehampton potato field than in the village.

Tim McGuire, a neighbor, who also serves on the village Zoning Board of Appeals, raised concerns about the appearance and scope of the project.

“It’s just so modern looking I’m shocked looking at it,” he said. “It doesn’t fit in to any part of Sag Harbor, let alone Howard Street.”

That brought an angry rebuke from Mr. Grossman, who had earlier told the board he was designing the house as a memorial to his wife who died in November. He questioned why anyone would object to his plans for the house, pointing out that it is now clad in aluminum siding.

The board asked him to return with a scaled back version.

In other action, the board approved William Cummings’ plan to renovate a three-bedroom house and garage at 8 Ackerley Street.

Mr. Cummings told the board he planned to gut the interior and do an extensive exterior renovation that would involve adding a new chimney, building a second-story deck on the rear of the house and converting the garage into a spa room with fireplace. The front of the house will be sided in white clapboard and the sides and rear shingled with white trim and a gray door.

“We just don’t want you to knock it down if that’s what you find once you get into this project,” said board member Bethany Deyermond. “You need to come back.”

“I live on the street, so it will be interesting,” she said.

A New Walk-In Medical Center for Sag Harbor

Tags: , ,

photo 3

By Mara Certic

Sag Harborites preparing for cold winter weather to hit can take some comfort in knowing that a new walk-in medical center is slated to open up in the village by the middle of next month.

Dr. Ilona Polak, who currently works at the Wainscott Walk In Medical Care, has decided the time is right to open a practice of her own, which will be located at 34 Bay Street, next to GeekHampton, as early as mid-January.

“I’m very privileged and excited to be able to serve the community of Sag Harbor,” said Dr. Polak, who is board certified in family medicine.  There are currently no practicing doctors in the village, apart from Dr. John Oppenheimer, who is a concierge doctor. Southampton Hospital’s Meeting House Lane practice has an office in Noyac.

Dr. Polak has been practicing medicine for a little over a decade. She began her studies in Europe and continued her medical education at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and then at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Polak completed her residency at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

She has been practicing medicine on the East End for the past five years, and has privileges at Southampton Hospital.

The location has been issued a building permit to add a bathroom and to install four medical examine rooms.

Dr. Polak declined to comment about any potential future partners at the practice at this time.

As it stands now, Dr. Polak will accept the following insurance: Blue Cross, Medicare, Oxford, United Healthcare, Health Republic, Island Group, Cigna, NYShip, Americgroup, Pomco and Meritrain.

Sag Harbor School Board Votes to Stop Broadcasting Public Input

Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday, the Sag Harbor Board of Education voted not to film and air the public input portions of its meetings, which were included in the December 9 video broadcast, still shot shown above.

On Monday, the Sag Harbor Board of Education voted against airing the public input portions of its meetings, which were included in the December 9 video broadcast, above.

By Tessa Raebeck

In an effort to avoid rebroadcasting public statements that could lead to liability issues for the school district down the road, the Sag Harbor Board of Education in a 4-3 vote on Monday agreed to continue videotaping its meetings, but to omit the public input sessions from the broadcast.

The board last spring implemented a six-six-month trial period during which it taped its meetings from start to finish, then broadcast them on the LTV and SEA-TV channels in East Hampton and Southampton, respectively, as well as online on the television stations’ websites and the district website.

The board adopted the pilot program to make its meetings more accessible following a call from some members of the public for increased transparency.

The trial period expires on December 31. When it was first enacted in April, the board agreed to review the policy at or before its December 15 meeting. To enact a policy, the board must hold a first reading, at which suggestions for amending the policy may be made. It then holds a second reading with those changes at a separate meeting. Following the second reading, the board votes on whether to approve the policy as is or continue revising it.

The videotaping policy was reviewed in a meeting on December 9, during which several changes were made, including altering the language to say the board would videotape and broadcast all “regularly scheduled” meetings and workshops on the board’s calendar, rather than all its “public meetings.”

This change was intended to avoid having Technology Director Scott Fisher, who spends over two hours setting up and distributing each broadcast in addition to the time spent attending the meetings, come in for a special meeting, which are generally brief and called for urgent matters, such as approving the hiring of a substitute teacher. Special meetings, often tucked in the middle of executive sessions that are not open to the public, are not scheduled ahead of time.

The other suggestion made last week—and approved on Monday—drew criticism from several parents in attendance and on social media. Board member David Diskin, citing liability concerns of rebroadcasting public statements over which the board has no control, proposed starting recording after the first public input session at the start of the meeting and ending taping after the second public input period at the end of the meeting.

To speak during the first public input period, speakers  must sign up ahead of time to address a specific issue on the agenda. Speakers are allowed to address any issue during the second public input session at the end of the meeting.

By not broadcasting public input, critics say the board is censoring the right of the public to bring up issues that are important to the school community, but may not be included by the board on an agenda. Proponents on the board said school attorney Thomas Volz had advised them against taping meetings altogether due to liability issues that could easily arise, and that while they would continue to televise the board meeting itself, broadcasting an open forum accessible to anyone in the public is too risky for the school district.

On Monday, those who voted to not include public input were David Diskin, Susan Kinsella, Sandi Kruel and Tommy John Schiavoni. Board President Theresa Samot, Vice President Chris Tice and Diana Kolhoff voted to continue taping the public.

“In the end, it may affect programming because of the liability issues,” said Mr. Schiavoni of his reasoning, adding that if the board were to continue broadcasting public input, it should consider having an attorney present during it. He echoed others’ sentiment that the board is too at-risk if statements made at the podium are rebroadcast, but welcomed any other party to tape the public portions of the meetings.

“I feel like the risk that we take by broadcasting statements that are made by the public is small with regard to the reward of having the public hear what is being brought to us,” countered Ms. Kolhoff. “I feel like people that can’t be here are just as interested in what we discuss as what people bring to the table in public input one and two.”

“I feel like we have to start with a bit of trust and if that trust is violated, maybe we revisit it. I just feel like the public input piece is important enough that I’m willing to risk the small chance that we open ourselves to liability,” she added.

“That is a risk,” Ms. Tice said, “but I do feel like we have had very productive public inputs. Public input two [is] where questions are asked that don’t show up on a formal agenda, but are questions that a lot of people in the community have.”

Ms. Kinsella, who has never been a fan of videotaping, reminded the board that having public input sessions at all is not mandatory, but an option chosen by the board.

“We have done this trial basis, we have had the policy violated, so how many times are we going to put ourselves at risk?” asked Ms. Kruel, who added that since the trial period started in July, she has counted six instances in which libelous statements were made during public input.

The public input sessions from Monday’s meetings were taped and broadcasted, as the terms of the six-month trial period are still in effect through the end of this month.

The next school board meeting will be a budget workshop and educational meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 12, in the Pierson library.

Bay Street Theater Announces “Grey Gardens, The Musical” Will Close 2015 MainStage Season

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A film still from the documentary “Grey Gardens” featuring Little Edie Bouvier Beale at her East Hampton home.

A film still from the documentary “Grey Gardens” featuring Little Edie Bouvier Beale at her East Hampton home.

Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater Announced last week it will stage “Grey Gardens,” a musical, as the third production of its 2015 Mainstage Season, which runs May 26 through August 30. “Grey Gardens” will open July 28 and run through August 30, with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. According to a press release issued by the theater last week, casting and the creative team will be announced soon.

“Grey Gardens” tells the story of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis. The play is based on the 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, a cult classic which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015 and inspired the HBO film of the same name starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Set at the Bouvier mansion in the Georgic section of East Hampton, the musical follows a mother and daughter on their hilarious and heartbreaking journey from glamorous aristocrats to notorious recluses in a crumbling house filled with memories and cats.

“I am very excited we will bring the daring musical ‘Grey Gardens’ to Bay Street this summer,” says Scott Schwartz, Artistic Director for Bay Street Theater. “This is a story set in the heart of the East End and that is woven into the social fabric of our community. What a thrill it will be to see the lives of the Beales unfold onstage just miles from their now infamous home. This musical is entertaining and complex, featuring a terrific score and delicious characters. With this production, Bay Street will continue to share innovative, contemporary musical theater with our audience.”

Tickets to “Grey Gardens” are currently only available through a full subscription to the 2015 Mainstage Season. For more information, visit baystreet.org.


With No Clear Option for Later Start Times, School District Asks Community for Help

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sag Harbor Elementary School Student Beckham LaRose told the Sag Harbor School District Tuesday.

“I need more sleep,” Sag Harbor Elementary School student Beckham LaRose told the Sag Harbor Board of Education Tuesday, as School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi and District Clerk Mary Adamczyk listened. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

After hosting seven workshops in less than two months, the Sag Harbor School District has made headway on researching ways to move school start times later, but remains far from ready to implement a change.

A later start to the school day, especially for high school students, has been advocated by health and education experts nationwide, after research has shown a later start time is better for students’ overall health and safety, behavior and academic performance. Despite the indisputable benefits to children, however, implementation faces practical challenges: established schedules for classes, bus routes and classes; faculty and staff contracts, parents’ work requirements, and cultural behaviors that are in many cases deeply ingrained.

Although Sag Harbor parents have individually advocated for later starts at various times—and to various superintendents—over the past decade, national momentum toward a change surged in August, when the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report calling chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents a national health crisis and recommending no American high school start before 8:30 a.m.

Human sleep cycles change during adolescence; teenagers naturally feel alert later at night and have difficulty falling asleep before 11 p.m. Teenagers also need more sleep, requiring at least 8.5 hours, a mere pipe dream for those who have to get on the bus at 6:45 a.m.

Mirroring the national conversation, the movement has gained significant traction in Sag Harbor, which, like many other schools on Long Island, has one of the earliest start times in the country. The Pierson Middle/High School schedule runs from 7:25 a.m. to 2:26 p.m., with many students waiting for the bus in the dark to make it to first period on time. Sag Harbor Elementary School starts the day with morning program at 8:35 a.m. and goes to 3:10 p.m.

Spectators are rare at school board meetings, perhaps not surprisingly, but on Tuesday some 30 parents, students and teachers filled the Pierson Library to hear the board discuss its options. The district’s administrative team compiled extensive data on various aspects and costs of a potential switch, including the effect on athletics schedules and bus routes, the two primary challenges of a change (data available at sagharborschools.org). The plans would range in cost and effectiveness, but none was selected by the board or highly favored by those in attendance. Some options come with significant price tags, while others do little to solve the problem.

Several options would continue operating separate bus runs for the elementary school and Pierson, which are “what saves us the most money,” Jennifer Buscemi, the school business administrator, said. Under other plans, however, the bus runs would have to be combined, which would require significant costs and the potentially problematic situation of 5-year-olds riding the bus alongside teenagers.

The probable annual costs for the first three options, which start both schools after 8 a.m., could range from $401,986 to $625,799, Ms. Buscemi projected. Options 4 and 5 have no additional costs, but Option 4 simply swaps the schools’ times, starting the elementary school early instead, and Option 5 starts Pierson at 7:35 a.m., a mere 10-minute improvement, but a possible starting point, Ms. Graves said.

The sixth option gives Pierson a 7:45 a.m. start time, with 9 a.m. at the elementary school, and would have a much lower cost of $75,000 for contracting out additional sports runs, which Ms. Buscemi said would “not be a very large impact on our tax cap,” whereas that of options 1, 2, and 3 is substantial.

“My general feeling,” said school board member David Diskin “on this is that to make a significant change, it’s obviously a huge amount of money.” Although Mr. Diskin said he saw the benefits of a change, he added he “would hate to see us reduce programs because we made the switch.”

But advocates of later times maintain its better to be roughing it in the beginning of a change than catching up at the tail end, and the momentum is definitely growing. Parents in Southampton, which starts its high school at 7:30, have also urged the board to adopt later times. While Sag Harbor was debating Tuesday, a school district in Dorchester, South Carolina, voted to move its start time later next year.

Switching times is difficult, but not impossible. Schools in Pierson’s athletic conference, the Ross School and Shelter Island High School, both start at 8 a.m.

“I don’t think we have found the right solution—the right option—yet,” said school board vice president Chris Tice. “I think we needed to go through this process to say what are the big rocks, what is the data—I’m not convinced that all the options that are potentially viable are on the table yet…the average district that has made a change takes six months to two years to explore this, we took a month.”

The board spoke in favor of putting the issue on the back burner for now, with hopes of reconvening with better preparation after the budget season. They urged community members to use the extensive data and information compiled by the administration to research more cost-effective, sustainable options.

The community appeared ready and willing to take the reins.

Jackson LaRose, a sixth grader at Pierson, asked the board to consider moving the elementary school schedule from 9 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. and Pierson from 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., “So the buses have enough time and I don’t think it would cost anymore money,” he said. His little brother, 8-year-old Beckham, agreed, saying, “I need more sleep.”

Laurie Marsden, a parent, said after transitioning to middle school this year, her daughter is “struggling still and it’s December. She’s never had a headache in her life and she had headaches the first two weeks of school straight.”

“I know that every single parent that I speak to says they wish the school was later and they talk about how they’re struggling. They talk about how difficult it is not just for their children, but for their whole family,” said Ms. Marsden.

Jean Cowen, the mother of a seventh grader and a former teacher, suggested moving the academic support to beginning of the day, rather than at the end as it stands now, and making it optional. The teachers’ school day—and contracts—would not be affected, nor would bus routes. School would start at 8:05 a.m. for students whose parents can drive them later, with students who need academic support or to be at school earlier so their parents can get to work riding the bus at the regular times.

“Asking kids to get up and perform at the 7 a.m. hour is equivalent to asking an adult to get up and perform at the 4 a.m. hour,” said Susan LaMontagne, adding there are ways to make the change with very little or no costs, and she and other parents are willing to find out how to make it work in Sag Harbor.

Harbor Committee Has Questions About Fill

Tags: ,

Questions about whether it should approve the unauthorized addition of fill to the waterside property of a house at 188 Redwood Road occupied the Sag Harbor Harbor Committee’s attention on Monday.

Joshua Schwartz, through the application for 188 Redwood LLC, has been before the board in recent months, seeking permission to have a 2-foot-tall, 76-foot-long retaining wall in a buffer zone that was planted with native plants. The committee previously approved a new bulkhead along the waterfront, but members balked at the need for a second retaining wall, arguing that Mr. Schwartz had added fill without a permit.

That’s important, the board’s environmental consultant, Richard Warren, said, because “what you are doing here is changing the flood plain.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Schwartz’s attorney, Dennis Downes, told the board that when earlier work was done at the property, about 50 yards of sandy fill was excavated and spread over the existing lawn. Another 10 yards of topsoil were added.

The committee’s chairman, Steven Clarke, had scolded Mr. Schwartz at an earlier meeting for putting in the fill and said on Tuesday he was not inclined to sign off on letting it stand.

“We had lots of discussions with him about the project,” Mr. Clarke said. “I personally don’t cut him any slack on that aspect at all.”

Mr. Clarke proposed a compromise that would allow Mr. Schwartz to keep some of the fill and simply regrade it down to the buffer zone, eliminating the need for any retaining wall at all. When Mr. Downes protested that would punish his client, Mr. Clarke replied, “The punishment in this situation would be to make him start over again” without any additional fill.

“The irony is he is asking for a retaining wall to protect stuff he put in without asking us,” added member Tom Halten.

The committee tabled the matter and will revisit it at its next meeting.

SOFO Holding Toy Drive

Tags: , , ,

The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center has announced that it will hold its first annual Holiday Toy Drive this year. The drive began on Monday, December 1, and will run through Friday, December 19, and will benefit local families in need.

SoFo is asking visitors to drop off at its center at 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton new or gently used, unwrapped toys for children from infant age through early teens. The First Church of God in Christ, The Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center, and the First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton, all located nearby, will distribute the toys to children for the holiday season.

“SoFo is committed to giving back to the East End community,” said Frank Quevedo, the museum’s executive director, in a press release, “and we can’t think of a better way to honor our families than by helping ensure that all children enjoy this special holiday season.”

“We are delighted to work with our neighbors, the First Church of God in Christ, the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center, and the First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton on this important project,” added Mr. Quevedo.

“We invite everyone who can to join us in our Holiday Toy Drive,” said Diana Aceti, the museum’s new director of development. “We thank all of our donors for helping SoFo brighten the holidays of children in our community.”

The mission of the South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center is to stimulate interest in, advance knowledge of, and foster appreciation for the natural environment, with special emphasis on the unique natural history of Long Island’s South Fork. SoFo is a not -for-profit  membership, nature organization chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1989. SoFo is dedicated to promoting nature education, in the museum and in the field, through hands on study of the South Fork’s native flora, fauna, and ecosystems.

SoFo is located at 377 Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. It can be found at sofo.org on the web. The museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For more information, call (631) 537-9735.