Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Community Rowing"

Sag Harbor Community Rowing Will Continue in Redwood

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Community Rowing club will still have its home at Cove Park in Redwood after Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting.

On Tuesday night, the village board unanimously voted to extend the rowing club’s tenure at Cove Park, a small public park near Redwood Causeway.

The club’s fate at the location was not always assured. Community rowing has been a fixture in Sag Harbor since 2008, however, last year as the rowing club’s license to use Cove Park was renewed, Sag Harbor Village Board members — led by Mayor Brian Gilbride — questioned whether the size of the club warranted it moving to a new location like Havens Beach. This came primarily as a response to continued calls by rowing club founder Lee Oldak for the construction of a removable, floating dock at Cove Park for the club — a concept supported by the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee.

At the time, board members bristled at the notion of allowing a private entity, in this case a not-for-profit, the right to construct a dock on village property.

Sag Harbor Community Rowing responded with a strong showing — both at tournaments and at a Sag Harbor Village Board meeting last March, where children decked in recently won medals pleaded with the board not to terminate the club’s license to use Cove Park, noting the sheltered body of water was ideal for their sport.

Prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he expected the resolution to extend the rowing club’s license to pass easily, noting it has been some time since the club has continued its requests for the dock.

“I support the kids,” he said. “I just need to make sure its not getting too big for a public park that is open to everyone in Sag Harbor.”

The club is on hiatus for the winter months, according to Oldak, and will return this spring with a record number of 15 high school students ready to compete on the team.

The organization also supports middle school students and adults, and also offers camp programming in the summer.

For more information, visit www.rowsagharbor.org.

Students Plead to Keep Rowing Club in Sag Harbor

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On Sunday, India Attias and the sixth grade girls competing in the under 14 rowing competition at the Long Island Junior Rowing Championships won their race. The girls proudly wore their medals during a Tuesday night Sag Harbor Village Board meeting where they were fighting a different kind of battle — to keep Sag Harbor Community Rowing at its Cove Park home after its license with the village expires next year.

“Sag Harbor is a waterfront community with deep traditions in rowing,” said Attias. “Is that not why we have whaling races at HarborFest each year?”

Attias was joined by scores of other children and adults who are also part of the rowing club. She was responding to the friction that has emerged between the rowing club and the village, which has allowed the club to use the public park in Redwood as its base of operations for four years.

However, earlier this spring as the board of trustees renewed the not-for-profit’s license to use Cove Park, board members led by Mayor Brian Gilbride questioned whether Sag Harbor Community Rowing would be able to stay at the facility after 2012. The mayor cited continued calls by club owner Lee Oldak for the construction of a removable, floating dock as evidence that the group may be growing too large for the space.

At that March meeting, Mayor Gilbride suggested it may be time for the club to find a new home in Sag Harbor, perhaps at a location like Havens Beach.

On Tuesday, Attias implored the board to reconsider.

“Cove Park offers the best access to Sag Harbor Cove, the best protection for rowers and equipment,” she said, noting the club’s activities do not infringe on any other recreational pursuits in the cove and that the club continually invites members of the community to hop in a scull and join them on the water.

“Great job, ladies, and to the rest of the club that is all here,” Mayor Gilbride said after Attias finished her speech.

After the meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he had been informed children at the rowing club were being told that the Mayor of Sag Harbor did not support them and was unnerved by that kind of action.

“We let them stay there this year and what we said was they are growing at such a rate that it might not be the right spot next season,” he said, adding he does see the value of the rowing club in providing students an opportunity to compete in a sport that can help them get into college.

“I think the kids are doing a wonderful job,” said Mayor Gilbride. “If the owner can stay under the radar and the club doesn’t grow much larger I think they will be fine at Cove Park.”

On Wednesday, Oldak said the reason he brought students to the village board meeting was to present the true face of Sag Harbor Community Rowing— the children who compete under its banner.

“This is primarily a program for children,” said Oldak. “We are not too big for that park and none of the neighbors have complained about us using it.”

Oldak said the program serves about 30 students from Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Springs, as well as about six adults.

“Cove Park was an underused park,” added Oldak. “No one knew about it. I think we brought to light what a great park it is.”

Sag Harbor Village Officials Say Justice Court Will Likely Cost Nothing

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As the Village of Sag Harbor moves closer to establishing its own justice court, this week the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees unveiled a draft budget for the court, and after matching those figures with projected revenues, said it should break even at the very least, and may even make the village close to $8,000 in additional revenues.

During its Tuesday, March 9 meeting, the draft budget was unveiled by trustee Tim Culver, who researched the cost of creating and operating a justice court in Sag Harbor by looking to villages who already run their own justice courts, including Southampton Village, Quogue and Westhampton Beach.

Culver’s draft estimates the village will need to spend $125,600 annually in contractual expenses, which includes the cost of a village justice, as well as an associate justice, a clerk and court officers, as well as equipment, software, stenographer services and the time of the village attorney. The judge, an elected position, is slated to receive a $25,000 salary, with an associate justice, who would take the bench should the elected justice be unavailable, expected to earn just $10,000 annually. In addition to these contractual expenses security and medical staff are also budgeted at $5,050 annually, translating into an overall $71,050 staffing budget – a majority of the total justice court budget.

According to estimates compiled by Culver, based on the last three years of justice court revenues from Southampton and East Hampton town courts, which currently handle Sag Harbor cases, the village can expect $118,303 in revenues. Coupled with the estimated $15,000 a year the village will need to expend to send police to Southampton Town’s Hampton Bays justice court, he predicts the village could see an annual income of $7,703 with the creation of Sag Harbor’s own court. Culver added those figures do not include the monies Sag Harbor contracts with the towns to handle their caseload.

“I think some of the figures are on the high side and I think we highballed it on purpose to be overly cautious,” said trustee Tiffany Scarlato.

Culver noted the cost of implementing a justice court is minimal as the village can use the existing board room and offices for the court.

“If we do this and after a year we think it isn’t working out, it will be easy to pack it up,” he said. “We don’t’ have a lot of fixed costs.”

The village is in the first steps of creating the court, currently hosting an ongoing public hearing on the creation of the village justice position, which village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said would likely be appointed at first, and at the next available village election would become an elected seat.

As at last month’s hearing, former village trustee Marshall Garypie decried the village’s efforts, questioning the cost of the court and the expansion of village government during such tough fiscal times. Garypie continued by asking the board to put the issue in the hands of village taxpayers via a vote.

While at last month’s meeting board members said they believed a village vote on the justice court would have to be set up via a permissive referendum – where a petition signed by residents would demand a ballot line for the justice court creation – this month, Thiele said the village could put the issue up for vote. However, he said it is unusual for municipalities to elect to hold a vote on a matter normally left to permissive referendum.

Garypie argued once the court was created, positions would likely be expanded over the years and more costly to village residents, citing the growth of Southampton Town positions in their own court.

Mayor Brian Gilbride countered that the court could, and would, remain small and noted the village currently fights to receive revenues from the towns. He added the court would likely operate twice a month during high season and once a month the rest of the year. It would handle traffic tickets, code and zoning violations and non-felony offenses.

After Garypie left the podium, and quickly exited the room, Trustee Scarlato added the court could also hear civil cases under $3,000 and landlord tenant disputes. The hearing remains open.


In other news, Sag Harbor Community Rowing had its license to operate at Cove Park in Redwood extend by the board of trustees, although its hopes for a modular dock on the site were dashed.

“I think you have done a good job showing support for the rowing club,” said Culver, adding the board is concerned with allowing the construction of a dock on public parkland. With the growth of the club, added board members, trustees may consider that application in the future.

“We want to encourage that this is accessible to the public in general,” said trustee Robby Stein of Cove Park.

Also on the waterfront, the village is considering setting up kayak racks at Havens Beach and other waterfront locales in Sag Harbor in order to boost revenues to the village’s harbors and docks, which could be looking at a $50,000 deficit in expected revenues for this fiscal year. Culver and Harbor Master Bob Bori are expected to present the board with a fleshed out concept in coming months. Gilbride added the board will also explore what the village charges for resident and non-resident slips.

The board also agreed to send letters to the New York State Liquor Authority regarding requests for liquor licenses at 16 and 62 Main Street, the site of the darkened JLX Bistro and Grappa Restaurant. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano said in addition to both sites being in the midst of investigation by the SLA for violations, both spaces are also embroiled in legal battles over who has the right to operate there.

Sag Harbor Community Rowing Hopes for Dock

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This kind of e-mail was the reason why Lee Oldak founded Sag Harbor Community Rowing in the first place.

Billy Boyce, the assistant heavyweight crew coach at Yale University, reached out to Oldak this week after learning that Pierson sophomore Bo Dermont had taken first place in the heavyweight novice group of the 2,000-meter indoor Erg rowing event in Riverhead in January.

Boyce said Dermont’s time of 7 minutes and 8 seconds was “not bad” for a novice sophomore and asked Oldak to keep him updated on Dermont’s progress since he is now a student Yale would like to keep an eye on.

“We had a letter similar to that from the Columbia University lightweight crew coach last year,” said Oldak at Tuesday’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, where he approached the board to renew the public club’s licensing agreement to use Cove Park on Redwood Road in Sag Harbor. Oldak also hopes the village will allow him to construct a modular dock at the site.

Founded in 2008, Sag Harbor Community Rowing this summer will mark its third year at Cove Park. On Tuesday night, Oldak admitted that growth has been slow, but steady and the club’s public programming and work with local schools was at the top of its priorities as a not-for-profit.

“It’s new here,” Oldak said of competitive rowing. “Quite honestly, it has been tough getting kids down there to experience it.”

On Tuesday night, the board of trustees expressed concerns about the public aspect of the club, needing to ensure they are not granting Sag Harbor Community Rowing the use of public land for a private purpose.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said a dock would go against the village’s original agreement with Oldak, which prohibited any permanent structures at Cove Park. The proposed 75-foot long dock is modular, but would have a fixed 35-foot walkway attached. If the board decided to join Oldak in a petition for the dock with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), it would need to change its licensing agreement with the rowing club, said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

“I think in general, the board has questions about where the organization is and what has happened,” said board member Tim Culver. “As a community rowing thing, I don’t think you will find anyone against that.”

Oldak said the program was set up for local students for the most part, similar to what the Breakwater Yacht Club began for students interested in sailing. In addition to high school and middle school classes in the Sag Harbor School District, as well as The Ross School and the East Hampton School District, Oldak said the club also provides free rowing to the community at large on Tuesdays and Saturdays in season.

What pays for the equipment and training, he added, is the 50-person membership base that pays $250 per year for total access to the club’s equipment and lessons. Through those donations, Oldak said area schools have only needed to provide the club with $1,000 annually for their students to learn the waterfront pastime.

Oldak said the dock would help facilitate launching of the boats, providing greater safety for rowers, their boats and for the surrounding environment. The village’s Harbor Committee, citing the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), has recommended the trustees move forward with the dock application.

“Although everything you answered tonight has been very good, I don’t know how much the public really sees,” said Gilbride, encouraging Oldak to return to the board next month with details about local students and residents who benefit from Sag Harbor Community Rowing.