Whether they have the help of a luxury condominium developer or not, Sag Harbor Village officials acknowledged this week that a long term plan needs to be developed to stabilize the waterfront embankment on West Water Street, parts of which have taken a beating during recent nor’easters.
On Tuesday, December 8 Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride asked the board for suggestions on how to handle the beachfront on West Water Street after receiving word from Sag Harbor Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early that the embankment had been damaged for the fourth time this year.
“I feel the village should work on getting the area in a stable condition before we have another storm and we could possibly lose more of the bank and possibly some of the road,” said Early in a letter to the board.
According to Gilbride, Early and his crew have already had to replenish the embankment several times this year.
Across the street from the beachfront is the luxury condominium development known as 21 West Water Street, which recently renewed its building permit with the village. Earlier this fall, project manager Mark D’Andrea said the condos were in the final stages of completion. According to Gilbride, part of their original site plan approval included an agreement that the developers would aid the village in creating a waterfront boardwalk at the site, although discussions stalled after the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) expressed some concerns with the plan, which may have altered the roadway in its creation.
No permits have been issued for a project at the embankment.
“This is our property, our project,” said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., noting any agreement on the part of the developers was simply to participate with the village in stabilizing the area.
“We will have to give this serious thought during the budget process,” said Gilbride.
“This has been going on for a number of years,” acknowledged village trustee Ed Gregory.
The board agreed to empower village planner Richard Warren to look at revising plans for the area and continue talks with the NYSDEC in order to get the ball rolling on stabilizing the area, and would contact the developers of 21 West Water Street about their involvement.
Attorney Edward Burke, Sr., representing the Hastings family, approached the board looking to appeal last month’s decision by trustees to deny the couple the right to acquire an adjacent, village-owned sliver of land used for many years as a driveway to the family’s Norte Dame Road residence.
According to the Hastings’ environmental planner, Susanna Herman, the family hopes to demolish and rebuild their home in order to accommodate their four young children. Given the flood zone the house resides in, Herman said a new sanitation system is being “shoe horned” into the property as a result of setback requirements and does not meet Suffolk County code. The Hastings would like to be able to shift the system further away from the water, and can only do so by either acquiring the piece of village-owned property.
Herman said the Hastings would also accept an easement from the village and noted variances and approval by the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board will also be required before the project can move forward.
Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said she had concerns about impeding public access to the waterfront – a priority for a village with a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which demands the board protect that access. Herman countered that no one in the neighborhood uses the path to access the bulkheaded beach and that there is access at other points in the neighborhood.
Kieran Murphree, representing the Hastings with Burke, said a title search was underway to see who truly owned the strip of land, noting a survey from the 1930s indicated the property was not meant for public access, but specifically for access to the Hasting property.
Gilbride suggested waiting to see the results of the title search before the board moved forward with a decision.
“If it’s the village’s you will have a difficult sell with me,” he said.
Sag Harbor has officially struck a deal with National Grid to continue use of its land on Long Island Avenue as a parking lot for the next year. According to Gilbride, National Grid has had private offers to use the property, but Thiele noted the NYSDEC has not determined what, if anything, can be developed on the site, which was recently remediated for coal tar.
The yearlong lease, at no cost to the village, will be good until November 30.
On Tuesday, the village board adopted a new law streamlining how Sag Harbor officials deal with abandoned boats following a months-long battle to remove a vessel left drifting and crashing against the breakwater. The new law allows village officials to remove any hazards to navigation with little bureaucracy.
In other news, Gilbride read a proclamation naming May 1 Silver Star Banner Day, a day created by The Silver Star Families of America to honor ill and wounded soldiers. The board also acknowledged local Eagle Scout Mark Mahoney, who led the village in its Salute to the United States flag at the opening of the meeting.
Lastly, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce was granted permission to host pony rides on December 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., although a location has yet to be established. While the Chamber hoped to use the grass at Marine Park, chamber member Benito Vila said he would work with Early to come up with a new location after Early expressed concerns about damage to the grass and sprinkler system.
According to Vila, it is the hope of the Chamber that the event will bring more holiday shoppers to Main Street.