Tag Archive | "sag harbor village"

Village Reaches Settlement With CSEA Union

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The Sag Village Board, which last summer, came to contract terms with its police department union, has reached an agreement with the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents most of its other employees.

The agreement, which is retroactive to May 31, 2013, and lasts until May 31, 2015, will award all CSEA employees with a flat $5,000 salary increase, no matter what their current base salary.

Mayor Brian Gilbride this week said that many village employees are currently paid at lower rates than their counterparts in other municipalities and the raise was an effort to rectify the disparity.

The contract also includes a provision that would require CSEA employees, upon 90 days notice from the village, to switch to a health insurance plan offered by Empire Blue Cross, should the village make that switch. Mr. Gilbride said the village is currently self-insured through a plan administered by the Island Group in East Hampton. The mayor said he expected the village to make the switch to the Empire Blue Cross plan as a cost-cutting measure next year.

Finally, the new contract requires that all CSEA employees submit to random drug testing. Mr. Gilbride said the village has a drug-free policy but has not required the testing before. He said there was no specific reason to require the drug testing now, other than for safety concerns, because village employees operate vehicles and other equipment. “My job is to keep the village safe,” he said.

The village and its union reached a tentative contract agreement on September 14, but the details were not finalized until last month.

At its November 12 meeting, the village board transferred $101,420 from a contingency fund and general fund balance to provide for the salary hikes.

New Bookstore Coming to Sag Harbor’s Main Street

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By Mara Certic

A new bookstore called Harbor Books is scheduled to open on Main Street in Sag Harbor just in time for the holiday season.

“There is truth to the rumor. I am opening up an independent bookstore,” Taylor Rose Berry said in a phone interview on Monday morning.

Ms. Berry, a resident of Sag Harbor, got all of her bookstore experience working at BookHampton, she said.

“I was lucky to learn so much from the folks over there,” she said. “It reaffirmed how much I love the book industry.”

“As a resident of Sag Harbor, I thought it was time to open a book store,” she added. “I thought it was the right moment.”

Harbor Books will be located at 20 Main Street, where BookHampton stood until the owners decided the 2,200-square-foot space was too big for their needs. For the past two years, the building has housed Hampton Culinary, which was open seasonally and sold kitchen goods.

By next month, if everything goes according to plan, 20 Main Street will become a new and improved version of its former incarnation.

Ms. Berry said she is trying to emulate the ambiance of an “old English bookstore.” There will be “big cozy chairs,” and free Wi-Fi, she said, adding she has already bought two sofas from her new neighbors at Black Swan Antiques that will be in the “really cool salon area.”

Ms. Berry added she already has some “amazing” author events lined up, as well as organized story times for the younger set.

Harbor Books will also be home to Sag Harbor’s very own “Phantom Tollbooth,” as both an homage to Norton Juster’s 1961 fairytale and also a place for imaginations to run wild.

“Eventually we’ll have a café,” she added, “but that’s a while down the road”

“I want the community to feel like they have a place to hang their hats in the village,” Ms. Berry said. Her current plan is to open the store on November 22.

“But we shall see,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

Since BookHampton closed, Sag Harbor’s only bookstore has been Canio’s, at 290 Main Street, a few blocks south of downtown.

Promotion for Clerk

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The Sag Harbor Village Board, during a work session Tuesday that touched on many unresolved issues in the village, could agree on one thing: that Beth Kamper, the current village clerk should be given the additional title of village administrator.

“It should be looked at. I think Beth deserves it,” said Trustee Ken O’Donnell.

Mayor Brian Gilbride noted that former clerk Sandra Schroeder, who is now a trustee, was also given both titles and said there was money in the budget to pay for the added duties, although he did not specify how much.

As village administrator, Ms. Kamper would be able to sign certain permits and applications, and other duties delegated by the village board that would oversee the day-to-day operations of the village, the mayor said.

Although the board agreed it would make the appointment, it decided to hold off until its next formal meeting, on November 12.

Mayor Gilbride, responding to what he called a “manifesto” of unfinished business raised by Trustee Robbie Stein, suggested that the board should try to hold more regular work sessions to try to whittle away at the list. Among the items on Mr. Stein’s list was the need for a capital spending plan; Municipal Building renovations, including the installation of a new elevator to the third floor; finding more spaces in existing village parking lots; and tackling stormwater runoff and groundwater issues, among others.

In other action, the board hired Bonnie Engelhardt to assist with clerical duties at a rate of $23 per hour related to a Records Management Grant awarded to the village. It also agreed to give village Treasurer Eileen Tuohy a raise, although the resolution did not specify an amount.

The board also agreed to hire Robert C. Rozzi as a part-time police officer at the rate of $23 per hour and allowed Chief Thomas Fabiano to hire Robert T. Sproston and Christian Denton for training purposes to become part-time officers. Both will remain on unpaid leave of absence at least until training starts at the Suffolk County Police Academy on December 1.



Sag Harbor Hires New Senior Building Inspector

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Municipal Building

By Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town’s current chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, will join Sag Harbor Village as its senior building inspector on November 7.

Jose Escalante, who was hired this summer to replace Tim Platt as village inspector, will stay on for now as a building inspector and work under Mr. Preiato.

Mr. Preiato was one of the finalists for the opening last summer but said he withdrew from consideration in part because taking the job would have required a major pay cut.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday morning said the village board saw an opportunity to improve the efficiency of its building department at a time when the village is undergoing a major building boom by reaching out to Mr. Preiato, who has more than 15 years of experience as a building inspector with East Hampton Town.

“He’s been in the trenches a long time,” Mr. Gilbride said.

“No disrespect to Jose,” the mayor added. “He didn’t have the field experience. It was baptism by fire for him.”

The village’s move came as a surprise to many employees at the Municipal Building, who said they knew nothing about the village’s intention to hire a new building inspector until this week.

Mr. Preiato, who is a Sag Harbor resident, said he was looking forward to his new position. “I’m ready to jump right in,” he said. “I know there is a backlog. But I think I bring a lot to the table.”

Mr. Gilbride said the village board decided to act in large part because members were concerned about the growing backlog of building permit applications, a backlog, he added, that was already posing a problem when Mr. Platt resigned last summer.

At their October 14 meeting, board members expressed surprise that Building Department revenue had declined for the year to date, despite signs of ongoing construction work in nearly every village neighborhood.

Mr. Gilbride said after that meeting, he drove around the village and noticed that many projects were proceeding without posted building permits.

With the Watchcase condominiums under construction in the old Bulova building, Barons Cove being redeveloped and the Harbor’s Edge condominiums nearing completion, not to mention dozens of other smaller projects scattered throughout the village, Mr. Gilbride said the time to bolster the department was now.

“Before things got too out of hand, we decided to act,” Mr. Gilbride said. “Hopefully, we can now break through this backlog.”

Mr. Gilbride added that the village is looking for ways to streamline the permit process, so building permits for simple projects can be issued more quickly. “If all the paperwork is in and it doesn’t need a board approval, it shouldn’t sit 17, 18 down on the pile before it is issued,” he said.

Mr. Preiato will be paid $75,000 in his new position. The mayor said Mr. Escalante is being paid approximately $42,500 in large part because he has less experience. Mr. Escalante is a probationary employee until December.

Mr. Gilbride, who prides himself on his tight budget practices, said the increase in spending was justified. “At the end of the day, in all honesty, Tim Platt was a very valuable guy,” the mayor said. “We probably weren’t paying him what he was worth.”

Mr. Gilbride met with East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell on Monday to discuss the matter.

Mr. Cantwell said the town is shorthanded in its own building department but would work quickly to replace Mr. Preiato.

“The building department is a very busy office,” Mr. Cantwell said, “a very busy operation, and we are going to do everything we can to keep it operating effectively.”

Mr. Preiato has served as the town’s provisional chief building inspector since late 2013. A provisional appointment is made when there is no updated Civil Service list of qualified candidates available, Mr. Cantwell said.

With Mr. Preiato leaving the town in just two weeks, the town will be down to one building inspector, Dan Casey. Another building inspector, Robert Fisher, is currently serving a work-related suspension.

Mr. Cantwell said East Hampton has already hired one retired building inspector to work on a part-time basis. He said the board would likely appoint two new full-time inspectors when it meets on November 6. It is also considering hiring another part-time inspector, he added.

The village board made the appointment at a special meeting on Tuesday morning. The village Building Department was closed afterward for a staff meeting.


Great Street Honored

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Crowds on Main Street during HarborFest 2013 on Sunday, 9/8/13

By Stephen J. Kotz

Deborah Alaimo Lawlor, a member of the American Planning Association, the organization that named Sag Harbor’s Main Street one of the 10 “Great Streets in America” earlier this month, presented a proclamation to that effect to the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday.

Ms. Lawlor praised the village for protecting its historic heritage and nurturing the arts while maintaining the feel of a friendly small town.

“Coming to Sag Harbor brings back some fond memories,” said Ms. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident who said she last visited the area about 30 years ago. “Quaint, that’s the picture that remained in my head about Sag Harbor after all this time.”

“This award is an accomplishment of many people who we can’t thank enough,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, who asked that representatives of the village’s various regulatory boards and its environmental consultants stand at the front of the meeting room for the presentation of the proclamation.

Ms. Lawlor said the village had been recommended for the honor by a professional planner who was a regular visitor to the village.

She said the village is still eligible for a “people’s choice award,” which will be given to the community receiving the most votes at its website, www.planning.org, by the end of the month of October.

Waterfront Park

Landscape architect Ed Hollander, who unveiled the latest sketches for Cove Park, a waterfront park that would be developed under the shadow of the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, at a special board meeting last week, presented them again to the larger audience that typically attends the board’s monthly meetings.

“It’s definitely not attractive, it’s definitely not of great use to the community,” he said of the proposed site of the park, behind the 7-Eleven convenience store and along the waterfront on the southwest side of the bridge.

Mr. Hollander said the park would open up an overlooked portion of the village’s waterfront to the community and would help tie the rest of the waterfront, from the docks along West Water Street, to Long Wharf and Marine Park, together. He added that it would be developed in an environmentally friendly way with native plant species and as many recycled materials, including plants, as possible.

“The next step is how do we bring this to fruition?” asked Mr. Hollander.

But that was a question the board, which did not discuss the project further, was not prepared to answer on Tuesday.

Later in the meeting, during a public comment period, Jeff Peters, a member of the Harbor Committee, thanked that committee’s former chairman Bruce Tait for being an early advocate of the waterfront park.

Plans for Waterfront Park in Sag Harbor Move Forward

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Sag Harbor Cove Park

The latest draft of a proposal for a waterfront park in Sag Harbor. Courtesy of Edmund Hollander.

By Mara Certic

After the discussion was reopened last year, a plan to develop a waterfront park under the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge is moving forward.

The original proposal for a waterfront park in the area dates back to 1996, but was resurrected around this time last year. This summer, landscape architects Edmund Hollander and Mary Anne Connelly have been working with an intern, Rachel Jawin, a student at Cornell University, on adapting Mr. Hollander’s original plans from the 90s into what could become the new Sag Harbor Cove Park.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride brought Mr. Hollander’s latest mock-ups to a special meeting of the Sag Harbor Village Trustees on Monday morning to show his colleagues the progress that has been made on the proposal, which he described as “absolutely beautiful.”

According to Mr. Hollander, there are three goals this project is attempting to meet. The first is to open up a piece of waterfront to the community. The property in question is currently derelict, or as Mr. Hollander described it, “an amalgamation of abandoned buildings and debris.”

The second aim is to build the park in an ecologically friendly way, Mr. Hollander said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “What we’re trying to do is build the park using as many recycled materials as we can from other construction sites,” he said. Mr. Hollander hopes to recycle local plants from nearby areas, which he said would create a natural buffer. Mr. Gilbride said this was also a way to “save the village some money.”

The third goal is to connect some of Sag Harbor’s waterfront amenities together, creating a boardwalk under the bridge and theoretically around Long Wharf.

“It’s just a great project,” Mr. Gilbride said on Wednesday. “It certainly has the potential to tie the entire waterfront of the village in.”

“I cannot thank Mr. Hollander enough,” he added, several times. The plan is a “continual evolution,” Mr. Hollander said, and there are remain many questions that need to be answered before the proposal can move forward.

“There are questions about docks: should there be one? Two? Three? Should there be a fishing pier?” Mr. Hollander said.  Mr. Gilbride said he has been considering the dock project “phase two” of the park, as it could be quite expensive.

“Before that could be productive we need to get [the area] cleaned up,” he said.

According to Mr. Hollander, the organization Serve Sag Harbor has shown interest in hosting a fundraiser to help support the project, but, if the proposal continues to go forward, the village will also be very much involved in funding the new park.

“It has the makings of a great welcome as you’re coming in over the bridge,” he added. Mr. Hollander will present the current proposal to the Sag Harbor Village Board at their next meeting on Tuesday, October 14 at 6 p.m.

Also on Monday morning, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees decided to raise the price of memorial benches from $575 to $1000. The price of benches, Mr. Gilbride said, had not gone up in some time, and the new price seemed to reasonably represent how much material and labor cost to install the seats.

Trustees Ed Deyermond said he would support this but only if it were to replace or repair existing benches. Mr. Deyermond believes there are already too many benches in the village, he said, and suggested memorial trees might be more appropriate and appreciated.

The trustees also voted to allow members of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce to have their tri-annual sidewalk sale this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 11 and 12.

Sag Harbor Joins Airport Foes

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Sag Harbor, which until Tuesday stood alone as the only municipality not taking a stand on the East Hampton Airport, came into the fold. Near the end of its monthly meeting, the village board hastily adopted a resolution offered by Trustee Ed Deyermond calling on the town to stop accepting grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration and develop a comprehensive plan to control noise and limit air traffic, including adopting a curfew.

“We’re the only village that hasn’t taken a stance on the airport,” Mr. Deyermond said, referring to actions by other municipalities, including East Hampton Village and North Haven and other towns, including Southampton, Shelter Island and Southold. “And I think we should mirror what the other villages have done.”

His resolution, which had not yet been written, passed unanimously, and Fred W. Thiele Jr., the board’s attorney, said that he would prepare a written version for the record.

Celebrating Maritime History in Sag Harbor

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The Joseph Labrozzi, Jr. men’s whaleboat team capsizes while racing to the finish line against the John K. Ott team during HarborFest 2013. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Stephen J. Kotz and Mara Certic

With the passage of Labor Day and the hectic summer season receding on the horizon, Sag Harbor residents can turn their attention to HarborFest, the annual celebration of its maritime heritage, which embarks on its second half century next week.

HarborFest kicks off this year with the “Whale of a Party” at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 12, and comes to a rousing conclusion on the afternoon of Sunday, September 14, with the whaleboat race finals at 3 p.m., followed by a clam shucking contest and lobster roll eating contest.

“HarborFest is the premiere event for the chamber and it’s been around the longest,” said Kelly Dodds, the president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual event. “It started out as the Whalers Festival, and at the heart of it, it celebrates Sag Harbor’s maritime heritage. Where else are you going to see whaleboat races?”

Coming as it does in mid-September, Ms. Dodds said HarborFest, besides being a draw for day trippers and weekenders, allows locals a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and after their typically busy summers and rediscover their village.

“The weather is great and local people aren’t working three jobs so they can come out enjoy what’s happening,” she said. “When you walk into HarvestFest, as you’re walking up the wharf, you hear the sounds of the whaleboat races, see the food and vendors. It’s a completely unique experience to Sag Harbor. There’s usually a nice breeze and a lot of smiles.”

Although most events are tried and true, there will be something new this year, the “Beach Blast” party and concert, which gets underway at 6:30 p.m. at Havens Beach. The event is being organized by Joe Lauro, the bassist with the group The Hoodoo Loungers, who has thrown a similar party on Shelter Island for many years. His band, which plays New Orleans style rhythm and blues and The Lone Sharks and The Forgiven, two groups that focus on roots rock and rockabilly, will perform. There is a suggested donation of $5 to help defray the cost of the event, which is being underwritten by the chamber and Mr. Lauro’s company, Historic Films.

Another new addition this year is a trolley service that will shuttle festival attendees from Havens Beach to Long Wharf and make a circuitous return trip, stopping at several historic village sites along the way, allowing passengers to take informal self-guided tours.

“It allows people to park their car for the day and get out and see the village,” Ms. Dodds said.

HarborFest Roundup

After Friday night’s party, the festival really kicks off on the morning of Saturday, September 13.

The Sag Harbor Farmers Market will be back at Bay Street on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. offering some of the best local produce and seafood the East End has to offer. Just down the road, on Long Wharf, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Montauk station will offer tours of its cutter for those interested to learn the ins and outs of their rescue missions and day-to-day operations. Service men and women will give tours from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

For those fascinated more by recreational vessels, classic boats, from schooners to sailboats, will be on display along Long Wharf on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., courtesy of the East End Classic Boat Society.

But sometimes touring a docked boat just isn’t enough for some. Captain Don Heckman invites seafarers to board his tour boat American Beauty for a historic tour of local waters. The boat will leave Long Wharf at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, and embark on a picturesque rides, during which Capt. Heckman will discuss how Sag Harbor has evolved from the 17th century through today.

Budding historians should also make note of historical walking tours by “Sag Harbor Sidewalks” on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., a tour focusing on the Sag Harbor’s maritime history will meet at the windmill on Long Wharf. The following day, at the same time, a walking tour focusing on the women in Sag Harbor’s history will also meet on Long Wharf. Visitors will see homes of fascinating women including Betty Friedan, Sag Harbor’s benefactress Mrs. Russell Sage, as well as some of our lesser-known heroines.

There will be many opportunities over HarborFest weekend to witness fierce competitions, which begin on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. as kids go head-to-head in a corn shucking competition. Following that, the first round of eliminations in the highly anticipated Whalers Cup races will kick off at noon at Long Wharf and Windmill Beach. Teams of four—two rowers, a tiller-man and a harpoonist—race on a triangular course along the Long Wharf. The finals will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Gastronomists will make note that the annual Clam Chowder Contest will be held on Sunday. Make sure to turn up on Long Wharf at noon to find out exactly who is this year’s crème de la clam.

Music, games, activities and more will take place throughout the HarborFest weekend. For a full schedule of events check out the Sag Harbor Express’s “Festival” magazine, which comes out on Thursday, September 11.

Arbitration Panel Awards 2.5-Percent Raise to Sag Harbor Cops

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A three-member arbitration panel this week has ordered that Sag Harbor Village police officers receive retroactive 2.5-percent raises, covering the period from June 2011 to June 2013, but also required that any new hires to the department be required to contribute 15 percent toward their health insurance costs.

In their final offers before going to arbitration, the PBA had sought raises of 4.5 percent for 2011 and 2012, while the village had requested a wage freeze in 2011, a 1-percent raise for 2012, and a 2-percent raise for 2013.

The village had also requested that newly hired officers be required to contribute 25 percent of their health insurance costs and that in the future all members of the department share in the burden of paying for rising health insurance costs by contributing half toward premium increases after May 31, 2012.

“I think it is fair for both sides,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, who said he had yet to read the arbitration panel’s complete ruling and deferred additional comments to Vincent Toomey, the village’s labor lawyer, who represented it on the arbitration panel. Mr. Toomey could not be reached for comment by this edition’s deadline on Wednesday.

Although Mayor Gilbride said the village sought a lower pay hike, he said the panel’s ruling marked the first time in New York State that arbitrators had required police officers be required to contribute to their insurance costs.

Officer Pat Milazzo, the president of the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association, could not be reached for comment by this paper’s deadline on Wednesday.

State law limits an arbitration panel’s rulings to two years, said Fred W. Thiele Jr., the village attorney, so the deal will only cover the two-year period ending June 30, 2013, which means both sides are back to square one.

“We will continue to negotiate,” said Mr. Gilbride. “The process starts again.”

The mayor has had a stormy relationship with the department in the past, over staffing levels and even threatened at one time to disband the department, citing its rising costs.

Although relations between the police and the mayor have been testy in recent years, Mr. Thiele said he thought the arbitration panel’s ruling gave both sides an opportunity to turn the page.

“This is an opportunity for a reset between the PBA and the village,” he said. “Now that you have an award from an arbitrator with a finding on health insurance and a modest increase in wages, both sides have a better idea of what a future arbitration would result in and may be more likely to reach a negotiated settlement in the future. It gives both sides an idea of what the trend is.”

Mr. Thiele agreed with the mayor that it was “to my knowledge the first binding arbitration where a health insurance premium has been awarded to a municipality.”

Mr. Thiele added that such contributions have been negotiated in the past, most prominently in Suffolk County, but in that deal, the county gave up hefty wage increases, he said.

The panel also provided an increase in longevity pay for police officers. For 2011, an officer with five to seven years of experience will receive an additional $2,475; an officer with eight to nine years of experience will be due $2,825; those with 10 to 14 years will receive an additional $3,925; those with 15 to 19 years of service will receive $4,425, and those with 20 or more years of experience will receive $5,075. For 2012, those amounts will be boosted to $2,600 on the lower end and to $5,300 on the higher end.

Officers will also be allowed to carry over up to 25 days of vacation from year to year or for future pay.

Page at 63 Main Wins Reprieve Against Sag Harbor Village

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Page re open for web

The tables and diners were back in front of Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor on Thursday evening.


By Stephen J. Kotz

Less than two weeks after the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees revoked the license of Page at 63 Main to have outdoor dining on Main Street, the restaurant has won a reprieve.

On Thursday, the restaurant obtained an injunction in New York State Supreme Court, restraining the village from enforcing its ruling, which was made at a July 18 meeting.

By Thursday evening’s dinner hour, the tables—and diners—had returned to the sidewalk.

Tom Horn, a Sag Harbor attorney who represented the restaurant before Justice Denise Malia in Riverhead, in a press release said he believed the court would be inclined to allow the restaurant to keep it seating through the summer season, reducing the financial impact of the village’s ruling.

“It was a good day for fairness today,” Mr. Horn said. “What the village was doing was hurting Page and for no reason other than to try and show that [the village] had the ability to hurt them. To be granted a judgment like this you have to have an extraordinary case. And we did. We had the facts, truth and law on our side and the court awarded what was fair.”

“We are delighted that we will be able to restore our seating and rehire the individuals who unfortunately had to be laid off as a result of this irresponsible revocation of our license. By ruling in our favor it is apparent that the court feels the village has overstepped its bounds” said Joe Traina, one of the restaurant’s owners in a press release.

The village revoked the license after charging that the restaurant had failed to get a building permit for a renovation project, overstepped the planning board’s approvals for that project, and had fire code violations in a wooden Dumpster enclosure.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride declined to comment on the ruling, referring calls to village attorney Denise Schoen, who prosecuted the case for the village.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Schoen disagreed with Mr. Horn’s take on the way the court was leaning. The judge “was fine with letting them stay open on a temporary basis while we try to work things out,” Ms. Schoen said.

But the village attorney said it would be difficult for the court to ignore the wording of the dining license, which, she said, allows the village to revoke it for “any or no reason at all.”

The parties will return to court on August 12.