Tag Archive | "sag harbor village board"

Sag Harbor Wants To Revoke Page’s Outdoor Dining License

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board will hold a special meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 18, to discuss revoking the outdoor dining license it issued to the restaurant Page at 63 Main Street because of a number of alleged fire code and zoning code violations at the establishment.

“That license has been suspended by the building inspector,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, “and he has thumbed his nose at the village and continued to serve alcohol and food outside, which is a violation,” referring to Gerard Wawryk, one of the business’s owners.

“They have been written up on multiple charges of fire code violations,” said assistant village attorney Denise Schoen.

Village attorney Fred. W. Thiele Jr. said if the restaurant did not answer the charges in a timely fashion in village Justice Court, the village could seek a restraining order against the business in state Supreme Court.

“In my experience as a town attorney and village attorney health or safety violations are more likely to get relief” than simple code violations, he said.

Mr. Wawryk was not available for comment on Wednesday.

Ms. Schoen said a Dumpster that is enclosed in a refrigerated wooden structure and abuts a fence next to Murph’s Tavern on Division Street is a fire hazard.

In addition, she said the restaurant had undertaken improvements to the rear of its property to open up the Back Page café without obtaining a building permit.

She also said that the original idea for the Back Page was to provide a “waiting area” with tables and some food service for restaurant patrons waiting to be served. But the outdoor dining area that has been constructed “is not the intended use” that the Planning Board approved.

On Tuesday night, even as a notice announcing the village action against his restaurant was posted on the front door of the Municipal Building, Mr. Wawryk sat in the audience, waiting for the village Zoning Board of Appeals to make a decision on Page’s application to obtain a variance for the placement of the Dumpster.

But after hearing that the Planning Board had not intended for it to be placed in that location, the ZBA took the unusual step of reopening its hearing on the matter and would ask the planning board for its opinion.

Sag Harbor to Weigh Moratorium

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board will be asked to consider a moratorium on most developments requiring setback relief from wetlands, pending a revision of its wetlands law.

Denise Schoen, the assistant village attorney who represents the village’s Harbor Committee and other regulatory boards, requested that a moratorium be considered when the village board held a work session on Thursday, July 10, to consider a series of revisions to its zoning code while building inspector Tim Platt, who left his position this week, was still with the village.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. said this week he would present a draft of a possible moratorium to the village board at its August 12 meeting.

“There have been issues cropping up more and more frequently,” said Mayor Brian Gilbride, “and we probably need to put on the brakes.”

“I think the changes are gong to be pretty comprehensive,” said Ms. Schoen. “Instead of reviewing the applications, we should be going through the wetlands code to see how we need to rewrite it.”

Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, said about a dozen applications  requiring relief from wetlands law setbacks are currently in the pipeline and would have to be put on hold during a moratorium.

The idea for the moratorium was first suggested by Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait in June. In a soliloquy before that board began its regular meeting last month, Mr. Tait expressed frustration that his committee was often being asked to weigh in on applications that had already received variances from the village Zoning Board of Appeals, rendering his committee’s input moot.

He also criticized the village for failing to enforce Harbor Committee decisions and said applicants have on occasion ignored the committee’s conditions for approvals.

At that time, Ms. Schoen said there were so many problems with the wetlands law as written that the village might be better off scraping the current law and writing a new one. A key goal, she said, would be to clearly define which applications should go before the Harbor Committee first and which ones should go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Besides confusion over where applications should go first, Ms. Schoen said there was a major problem with a provision allowing the Harbor Committee to reduce its own setback requirements “on lots that are so undersized that the applicant can’t possibly build without having that relief.”

The problem, she added, is that provision has “been interpreted by applicants and their attorneys that they automatically qualify for that relief. That’s not true. It’s a decision the Harbor Committee has to make.”

Mr. Warren recommended that the village simply remove the language describing undersized lots. “Right now the burden is on the Harbor Committee,” he said.

“Applications are coming in bigger and bigger,” he said. They want more and more swimming pools 20 feet from the bluff and on 10,000- square-foot lots 6,700-square-foot houses.”

The board also discussed changing the formula for determining how many parking spaces are required for restaurants from one space per three seats to one space per four spaces.

Although Mr. Platt said he thought the change would trigger requests from more restaurants for an increase in seats, others said the change would only bring restaurants into closer conformity with the state fire code—and besides, there are no parking spots anyway.

“You can put in 3,00 more seats and you aren’t going to get any more cars,” said Trustee Robby Stein. “It’s almost self-regulating.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell, the owner LaSuperica restaurant, agreed. “I can put 200 more seats in, but if have a weekend like this when long Wharf is going to be covered with a tent, my backroom is going to be light.”

“I don’t know what to do with parking variances, I don’t know what to tell the board,” said Ms. Schoen. “I don’t know how we are supposed to enforce them. There are no parking spots so the analysis, legally, doesn’t work.”

Mayor Gilbride said he was concerned that if a restaurant were overcrowded, “and some bad event happens then people are going to be reaching out to find out who is liable.”

But Mr. Platt said if someone violates the fire code “the judge is going to take that much more seriously” than if they simply get slapped with a zoning code violation.

Harbor Committee Up in Air at Sag Harbor Reorganizational Meeting

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Trustees Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder are sworn in by Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper on Monday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

It was a bit reminiscent of the “Who’s on First?” skit when the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees held is annual reorganizational meeting on Monday.

The normally routine matter of appointing members to various regulatory boards left village board members, members of the boards themselves and the public confused.

The trouble started when the board discussed appointments to the Harbor Committee. A resolution on the agenda listed current member Stephen Clarke Jr., Bay Burger restaurant owner Joseph Tremblay and John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor as potential appointees to the committee, which oversees the approval of wetlands permits and compliance with the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).

When Mayor Brian Gilbride said that the term of the committee’s chairman, Bruce Tait, had expired, fellow board members asked whether he meant his term as chairman or his term on the board.

Mr. Gilbride did not have the answer to that and neither did Village Clerk Beth Kamper, who said she would have to check the village records to find out.

Mr. Gilbride also questioned whether Dr. Tom Halton and Mr. Clarke should be replaced, noting that they had missed a number of meetings, although Dr. Halton’s term has not expired.

In the end, the board took no action, promising to revisit the appointments at an upcoming work session, perhaps as early as this Thursday morning, July 10.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Gilbride said he was trying to give Harbor Committee members a wakeup call that they should be more vigilant about attending meetings and be better prepared to exercise their duties of enforcing the village’s LWRP.

It lit a fuse under Mr. Tait. “They don’t like me because I was an opponent of the mayor,” he said on Tuesday, referring to the last mayoral race. “Fine, I get that. I have thick skin.”

“My term as chairman is one year, they can appoint whoever they want,” he continued, “but I’m appointed to a five-year term, and it began when I signed my name in the big book when I took my oath of office.”

Mr. Tait said it was his understanding that he still had two years remaining on his term. “You can’t remove me for those two years without due process,” he said.

At a Harbor Committee meeting last month, a visibly frustrated Mr. Tait said the committee was being bogged down by development applications and could not devote the time he would like to devote to policy issues. Plus, he added, when the committee gave approvals, the village did not enforce the code to make sure the restrictions it imposed were being adhered to.

“If they do appoint a new chairman, I may or may not resign from the board,” Mr. Tait said, adding that he would like to continue to serve the village because “I have things I want to accomplish that I have not been able to get done.”

At Mayor Gilbride’s request, the board appointed newly elected Trustee Sandra Schroeder to replace Trustee Robby Stein as deputy mayor.

“It is certainly not anything against Robby,” the mayor said afterward. “He did a great job although sometimes we saw things differently.”

The appointment of Ms. Schroeder, who also opposed the mayor in the previous election should not be taken for any more that “she’s a long-time village employee started out in clerk’s office, became clerk, became administrator and who knows how things are run,” said Mayor Gilbride.

The board also appointed Gregory Ferraris as chairman of the Planning Board after Neil Slevin, the current chairman, resigned, citing personal reasons, the mayor said. Mr. Slevin, though, was appointed as alternate member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, whose chairman, Anton Hagen, was also reappointed.

“Neil’s personal life has commanded him to allocate his time differently,” the mayor said. “He wants to stay involved without sacrificing other things.”

The board named James Larocca to the Planning Board and reappointed Larry Perrine.

The board also reappointed Cee Scott Brown as chairman of the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review. His appointment was called into question by Mr. Stein who said he had been approached by several people who were concerned that Mr. Brown is a Corcoran real estate agent and represents the Watchcase condominium project.

“I don’t have any question about Cee’s professionalism,” Mr. Stein said.

“I’ve been told he’s very professional, he’s very knowledgeable, and he is fair,” said Ms. Schroeder.

Christine Patrick and Penni Ludwig were reappointed to the ARB and John Connor was named its alternate member.

Sag Harbor Traffic Calming at Standstill

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An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor. Photo courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

By Stephen J. Kotz

Plans for a series of traffic calming measures in Sag Harbor Village remained stalled, with the Village Board on Tuesday, again declining to give the green light for a pilot project proposed by two civic organizations, Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor.

“We’re not going to do any of that without a professional telling the village it’s a good or it’s a bad thing,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said of plans to use large planters as part of the traffic calming designs at various intersections in the village. “Personally, I don’t think it’s a good thing.”

That appeared to signal a reversal from May when the mayor told traffic calming proponents that they could begin fundraising efforts to pay for the pilot program—a move they interpreted as tantamount to an informal approval. When the board met earlier this month, fire and ambulance volunteers expressed concern that efforts to slow down traffic would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond to calls.

Mr. Gilbride said he wanted to wait until Dunn Engineering, which the village solicited for the work just this week, has an opportunity to weigh in on the appropriateness of the designs.

“At this point, I’m going to be cautious and protect the village,” said Mr. Gilbride. “Ninety percent of the people who grab me are not in favor of putting flower pots in the road, I can tell you that.”

The mayor’s apparent change of heart spurred Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, the group that plans to pay for the project, to urge the board to move swiftly so it could have at least a bare bones pilot program in place for the height of the summer season.

Trustee Robby Stein said that while it was important to iron out any concerns over liability if a driver were to hit one of the planters, he said the village should move forward.

“I like the fact that this is a volunteer organization that wants to partner with the village,” he said. “There are lots of intersections in the village that could use work. Without belaboring this, I’d like to see if we could go forward with this in some way.”

“If it doesn’t work, fine,” he added. “If it does work, it’s still not permanent and then there is another discussion.”

“They couldn’t start painting while we wait for an engineer?” asked Trustee Ken O’Donnell, who has also expressed his interest in getting some kind of traffic calming program up and running this summer.

The problem with that, Ms. Mead said, is “people do not pay attention and stay within painted or colored lines.”

Trustee Ed Deyermond also expressed reservations about planters being placed in roads. “If you put a flower pot in the middle of the road, in the middle of the straightaway, that’s where you are going to have trouble,” he said.

But Mr. Deyermond said he liked revisions made to the installation proposed for the intersection of Oakland and Jermain avenues. The original plan would have directed vehicles away from the center of the street and to toward the curb, but it has been revised to keep vehicles in the center of the road and provide more space at curbside for pedestrians.

Ms. Mead assured the board that adjustments could be made on the fly but encouraged it to take action quickly.

“If we sit around and talk about this and we have an accident, we are all going to be sorry,” she said.

Mr. Gilbride cited a letter that he had received last month from a village resident bemoaning changes to a historical whaling village.

“A Range Rover traveling down the road at 45 mph—that doesn’t happen in a whaling village, either,” said Jonas Hagen, an urban planner who has worked on the traffic calming project.

“I don’t want to be a downer,” he said, “but something happened recently in Water Mill, and this is exactly the kind of thing we are trying to prevent from happening.” He was referring to the death of a 6-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a car while crossing a street in the hamlet.

Page at 63 Main

The board also met with chairmen of its regulatory boards to ostensibly discuss ways that communication could be improved to prevent one board from approving an application that runs counter to the wishes of another, but it soon turned into a discussion of changes at Page at 63 Main Street.

“My sense is the system is being gamed,” said Neil Slevin, the chairman of the planning board chairman. “Very often what is happening in these application is people are playing games. They throw up all sorts of smoke…. The objective is to make it difficult for people making decisions to see the big picture.”

Speaking of Page, Mr. Slevin pointed to the development of the site to include “The Back Page,” which is advertised as a café, on the Division Street side of the property. The planning board, he said, had not intended for the restaurant’s owners to move a Dumpster from a conforming location and install a stone patio, in an area that was shown on the original surveys accompanying the application as grass.

Those changes, he said, have expanded the restaurant’s serving area and eliminated a driveway, where delivery trucks could park. “If you look at it as it exists right now, I would say that it is clearly larger and more intense than the original application that came before the planning board,” he said.

The modification of the plan slipped through, he said, because board members were focusing on a proposal to convert the second floor of the restaurant building to an aquaponics operation.

Last week, the village Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to grant variances allowing the Dumpster to be moved. “It seemed like a simple variance application,” said ZBA chairman Anton Hagen, who said he was unaware of the Planning Board’s concerns. “I didn’t get  clear signal that there was any subterfuge,” he said.

Denise Schoen, the village attorney for the planning and zoning boards, said that the restaurant went ahead with its construction project  without a building permit and the village was prosecuting it in justice court.

On Wednesday, Gerard Wawryk, one of the restaurant’s owners, said the restaurant did not play it fast and loose. “We even got a copy of the approved survey that came in the mail” after the planning board reviewed the case, he said.

He admitted, though, that work was done without a building permit. “It took 14, 15 weeks to get a building permit,” he said. “What was I supposed to do, wait another year? If that’s how the village wants to operate, I haven’t got time for that.”

Update: Stein and Schroeder Sweep to Victory in Sag Harbor

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Robby Stein and Sandra Schroeder congratulate one another after being elected to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday night. Michael Heller photo

 

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Incumbent Robby Stein was the top vote getter on Tuesday to win reelection to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees with a total of 308 votes.

Sandra Schroeder, a former village administrator who last year challenged Brian Gilbride for mayor, came in second place with 270 votes.

John Shaka, a member of the group Save Sag Harbor, who has become a familiar sight at the Municipal Building, where he has been an advocate for a traffic calming project, missed out on a seat, receiving a total of 219 votes. Former Trustee Bruce Stafford received 124 votes.

In North Haven, Mayor Jeff Sander, incumbent Trustees Dianne Skilbred and James Davis, and first-time candidate Tommy John Schiavoni, who all ran unopposed, were reelected.

“I’m just so thrilled,” Ms. Schroeder said on Wednesday morning about her election. “I’m really a happy camper about that today.”

The newly elected trustee said she looked forward to getting to work, and said she did not expect to have any problems working with her fellow board members.

“I can work with anyone,” she said, adding that people run for office because they have a sincere desire to make the village a better place to live. “It’s not a personal thing, it’s issues,” she said. “You don’t have to agree on everything to get along.”

Mr. Stein said he was pleased to be the top vote-getter. “I feel I can continue the work I’ve started,” he said. “I look forward to working with Sandra on the board.”

“I’m really proud of the campaign we ran,” said Mr. Shaka. “We ran on the issues and got the news out.”

Although he said he was disappointed that he failed to win, Mr. Shaka said, “The good news is that Sag Harbor has two really good people going in who will take care of the business of the village.”

It took about an hour for the results to be announced as election workers first cross-checked 43 absentee ballots against voter registration rolls and counted them individually before announcing the results from voting machines.

A crowd of about 40 people who had gathered at the Sag Harbor Firehouse on Brick Kiln Road waited quietly for the results.

“I had a wonderful life last week and I will again next week,” said Ms. Schroeder as she waited. “I’m really hoping to be elected, but if not, I’m not going away.”

When it became clear she would be one of two winners, a small group of supporters who had gathered around her cheered. Mr. Shaka, a first-time candidate for village office, offered his congratulations to the winners. Mr. Stafford left shortly after the results were announced, offering a “night, night” to those nearby.

A total of 511 votes were cast. Four write-in votes were cast, with two for Scott Smith and one each for Mary Anne Miller and Margaret Bromberg.

North Haven Village Clerk Georgia Welch said a total of 97 ballots were cast, 92 by machine and five absentee ballots.

Mr. Schiavoni received 89 votes; Mr. Sander, 88 votes; Ms. Skilbred, 87 votes; and Mr. Davis, 86 votes.

Ms. Welch, who said North Haven had about 700 registered voters, described turnout as good for an uncontested election.

“It is nice to be officially elected,” said Mayor Jeff Sander who completed the unfinished term of Laura Nolan. “I hope the fact that no one opposed us is indicative of how people think we are doing.”

Mr. Sander said he looked forward to working with Mr. Schiavoni and added that he would miss Trustee George Butts who did not seek another term.

 

 

More information on the Sag Harbor candidates can be found by clicking here.

For more information on the candidates in North Haven, click here.

Turnout for Traffic Calming and Dog Park

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An overflow crowd filled the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night to support traffic calming and a dog  park. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz

By Stephen J. Kotz

An army of residents of Sag Harbor and the surrounding area crammed into the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night, spilling out into the hallway and sitting on the floor.

They were there to lobby the board to approve a traffic calming pilot project promoted by the organizations Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor and to show support for a Bay Point woman’s request for the village to set aside a portion of Havens Beach as a dog park.

Traffic calming proponents, who were hopeful that they would finally be given the green light to launch their pilot program, left deflated, as the board tabled the matter yet again. While dog park supporters were buoyed by the board’s agreement to form a committee to further study the request.

“Can I at least tell the people who have donated their time that we’ll be on the agenda next month?” asked Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, who has spearheaded efforts to fund the traffic-calming project.

Board members promised that they would pick up the discussion either at their July meeting or at a work session later this month.

“I support the concept, but I have a lot of issues,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond. “I’m not prepared to vote on this.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell said he also wanted to move forward, as soon as possible. “Let’s pick an intersection and get it right,” he said.

He also complained that he had not been given adequate time before Tuesday’s meeting to review the proposed sites and lashed out at Mayor Brian Gilbride over the lack of communication.

“I gotta look at Facebook. It’s the only way the board finds out about traffic calming tonight is to look on Facebook,” he said.

Trustee Robby Stein also pledged support for the pilot program. “We’re in agreement that something has to be done,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure that concerns of emergency services representatives were also met.

Mayor Gilbride, who has in the past encouraged the traffic calming supporters, waffled a bit on Tuesday. “Being born and raised here, I’m not seeing the need for it, he said, adding, nonetheless, that Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor had done a good job and he would support a pilot program.

“Traffic calming happens in Sag Harbor every summer,” the mayor later quipped, “because you can’t go that fast.”

Earlier in the meeting, a steady stream of visitors stepped up to the podium, most of whom were strongly in favor of the traffic calming measures.

Among the supporters were Neil Slevin, the planning board chairman, and Anton Hagen, the chairman of the zoning board.

“I’ve lived on Main Street for 34 years. Traffic and speed have always been an issue,” Mr. Hagen said.

“Main Street has gotten so much busier than when I moved in 28 years,” said Mr. Slevin. “I’m asking you as a neighbor and as a leader of this community. I’m asking you to give it a chance.”

Bob Plum, another Main Street resident, also called for the board to support traffic calming. “I think in the big picture this is a great opportunity to establish a precedent,” he said. “Robert Moses can roll over in his grave.”

Drivers speed down Main Street “as they try to catch the light” at the intersection with Jermain Avenue and Brick Kiln Road, said Mary Anne Miller. “No one ever abides by the speed limit. I believe it will do a great amount of good for the village.”

April Gornick of North Haven was one of several people from outside the village who supported the traffic calming effort. “We’re trying to make this as flexible as possible,” she said. “I think the benefit would be enormous.” She added she hoped that Jermain Avenue and Madison Street could be targeted because the intersection is so close to the school.

“Change has come. Whether we like it or not, we’re all under siege by cars,” said Eric Cohen of Collingswood Drive, just south of the village.

“Until we try something we don’t know if it will work,” he added. “Try this. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Jane Young, a resident of Northside Drive in Noyac, said, “I think traffic is getting crazier and crazier out here by the year I hope you will give the pilot program a chance.”

But not everyone was in favor of the program. Rue Matthiessen, a Main Street resident, said while supported “efforts to control traffic,” she opposed the changes proposed for Glover and Main streets that she said would reduce the width of the road. “There have been attempts to explain to us that putting obstructions in the road will not narrow the road, but we fail to see how this is possible,” she said.

Ann Marie Bloedorn, a Hampton Road resident, said putting planters in the road would make it too hard for fire trucks to maneuver.

Sag Harbor Fire Chief Jim Frazier agreed. “It was stated earlier that or trucks didn’t have difficulty negotiating some of those circles. That’s not the case,” he said.

And Ed Downes of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps said that when traffic lanes are narrowed to slow traffic, it also slows emergency responders. “It makes it more difficult for us to get to the ambulance or get to the person in trouble,” he said.

Dog Park

Tina Pignatelli of Bay Point, whose dog Huckleberry was struck and killed at Havens Beach a month ago, appeared with a phalanx of supporters to devote a portion of the field on the southeast side of Havens Beach as a dog park.

“I want to make this park safe for dogs, so what happened to Huck never happens again,” she said.

Ms. Pignatelli said she wanted the park to be a place for people and pets to enjoy and repeated her vow to find private funding to landscape an area for the project.

Ms. Pignatelli’s father, North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander also spoke. “The loss of Huck was devastating to her and our family,” he said.

A steady procession of speakers also supported the proposal, for which the landscape architect Jack deLashmet has agreed to provide plans.

“I support something like this being done down there,” said Mr. Deyermond looking over a rough sketch of the proposal. “I’m afraid that this takes up most of what’s there.” He asked if the plan could be scaled back.

Mr. Stein also said he would support the plan, but would like to make sure it is landscaped with plants that would prevent erosion and runoff into a dreen that drains into the harbor.

“I tell you, I never thought that was a spot for a dog park,” said Mayor Gilbride before addressing Mr. Sander. “You sure you don’t have an property over there, Jeff?”

Despite the joking tone, Mr. Gilbride promised to set up a committee to work with Ms. Pignatelli to come up with more formal plans.

Sag Harbor Candidates Discuss Issues

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Candidates Robby Stein, Bruce Stafford, John Shaka and Sandy Schroeder at a roundtable discussion.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The four candidates for Sag Harbor Village Board gathered in The Sag Harbor Express office last Thursday to outline their reasons for running and discuss how they planned to approach some of the key issues facing the village in the coming years at a roundtable discussion.

The election is Tuesday, June 17, with voting from noon to 9 p.m. at the firehouse on Brick Kiln Road.

Sandra Schroeder, a retired village administrator who fell short in a bid for mayor last year, is making her first run for a trustee seat, as is John Shaka, an active member of the group, Save Sag Harbor. Bruce Stafford, who served one term, from 2009 to 2011, is seeking to reclaim a seat, and Robby Stein, who is finishing his fifth year on the board, is seeking another term.

“The waterfront and water quality are important to me,” said Ms. Schroeder, echoing a concern also raised by Mr. Shaka and Mr. Stein. She also cited traffic, disappointment that the village was unable to settle a contract with its police union, and the need to invest in infrastructure, including the Municipal Building, Long Wharf and the sewage treatment plant.

“We need new things and we need new thinking,” she said, “and someone who is looking to the future at where we want to be.”

“I love this place,” said Mr. Shaka, who owns a painting business and has lived in Sag Harbor for 15 years. “The reason I’m running for trustee is I want to keep it beautiful and livable.”

Mr. Shaka called for better communication between the village and the school district to solve problems like traffic tie-ups at Pierson High School during drop-off and pickup times; a sharper focus on the environment, especially water quality; better efforts at historic preservation, citing the John Jermain Memorial Library expansion of an excellent example; and traffic calming, an initiative he has been deeply involved with in recent months.

Mr. Stafford, a landscaper who was born and raised in Sag Harbor, cited his local ties, including 36 years of service with the Sag Harbor Fire Department and his leadership role as chairman of the board of the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church.

He said there was a need to hold the line on taxes and cited his efforts to rein in spending while on the board.  He agreed that traffic is an issue but noted that options are limited because village streets are narrow because they “were made many, many years ago for horse and buggy.”

Calling Sag Harbor a great place to raise a family, Mr. Stafford added, “this is no longer our little home. It has been found. I’m just trying to keep it as long as possible.”

Mr. Stein, a therapist who now serves as deputy mayor, said there were many key issues facing the village, and cautioned against expecting easy fixes for any of them.

He said he was “passionate” about finding ways to manage “water and the health of the harbor and the way water is absorbed by this whole village.”

Mr. Stein said he would like to see the village review the code to see that it is keeping up with the times. The village, he added, needs to determine what infrastructure projects it will tackle first and where it can find new sources of revenue. An immediate challenge, he added, is that once the village police contract is finalized, the village will be headed right back to the bargaining table because of the short term of the new deal. He noted that negotiations have not been particularly cordial and said it was important to stabilize the contract for the long term because police costs account for more than half the budget.

“I think we really have to look at what our priorities are,” he said. “The character of the village is something we want to protect.”

When it comes to safeguarding water quality in the bay, Ms. Schroeder said a systematic plan needs to be put in place to install larger catch basins and dry wells to prevent as much initial runoff as possible. She also said she expected the village would eventually have to undertake a major upgrade of its sewage treatment plant.

The village will have to work with its neighboring towns and Suffolk County to tackle water monitoring and pollution abatement solutions.

“Sag Harbor can’t do it all by ourselves,” she said.

Mr. Stein, who has focused on runoff and water quality issues during his time on the board, disagreed.

“You can’t build big enough catch basins to hold the rainfall,” he said. It would be far more effective to try to retain as much rainwater on-site through porous natural solutions like rain gardens, which are typically planted depressions, which allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, he said.

He also disagreed that the sewage treatment plant needs to be expanded, saying it is operating at only about 30-percent capacity now.

Mr. Shaka said he was equally concerned about nitrogen seeping into the bay from overtaxed septic systems and said the village needs to collect baseline data of the situation by conducing regular water sampling.

He agreed with Ms. Schroeder that the village would be hard pressed to correct pollution on its own and said it would have to forge alliances with neighboring communities and levels of government to tackle the problem.

Mr. Stafford said the village could convert a portion of the Cilli Farm into a drainage and filtering area.

“Right now, it’s just a brushy pile of nothing down there,” he said, “and we’ve owned it for how many years?”

The ongoing contract dispute between the village and Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association was also a source of concern.

“The bottom line is taxes,” said Mr. Stafford. “The smart thing to do is wait and see what the arbitrator is going to come back with and eventually put on a referendum and let the village taxpayers decide” if the village should maintain a department.

“I like having a police department,” he said, “I like having two on at one time.” But he added that the PBA has been unwilling to work with the village and suggested that the village would be better off going with a reduced force and hiring more part-time officers.

“If it goes to arbitration, you are in trouble,” said Ms. Schroeder. “Arbitration rarely benefits the village.”

Mr. Stein said the problem went deeper than negotiations. The village is limited because it can only hire officers from a local Civil Service list or the county list. He said the department would be able to hire young officers at lower wages if it could use the Southampton Town hiring list.

He said it was important that the police pay be controlled much as the village is controlling spending elsewhere.

“It has to be a consistent piece of the pie,” he said, adding that police will have to ask for smaller raises and contribute to their health care costs in the future.

“I like having an affordable police force,” said Mr. Shaka. “Let’s wait until the arbitration is in, but I can tell you what isn’t affordable—if police have 4-percent raises every year.”

All candidates, save Mr. Stafford who praised Mayor Brian Gilbride’s pay-as-you go approach, said the village would benefit by borrowing money now, while interest rates are at historic lows, to tackle major infrastructure projects, like repairing Long Wharf.

Mr. Stein said the village should lobby East Hampton and Southampton Town for a larger share of Community Preservation Fund money, which, he said, might be used to buy easements from waterfront property owners to plant buffers to protect the bay.

“There’s no property here,” he said. “We aren’t going to buy anything else. There’s only one thing left on the East End and that’s the water.”

Sag Harbor needs to ramp up its code enforcement and revisit its zoning code, the candidates agreed, if it wants to protect its character.

Mr. Stein said the zoning code should be updated to limit the construction of oversized houses on small lots, as well as not overly restrict commercial uses.

“Code enforcement would be a good place to start,” said Mr. Shaka. A leader of the fight against a plan to redevelop the Harbor Heights service station with a convenience store and other amenities, Mr. Shaka said such plans should be stopped in their tracks.

Mr. Stafford said he was particularly concerned about illegal rentals and overcrowding in homes.

All four candidates agreed that there could be better communication both among board members and with the public.

Mr. Stein called for a better website and regular newsletters to taxpayers. The board should also hold monthly work sessions, he said.

“If nobody says anything you don’t hear anything,” quipped Ms. Schroeder, who said the board needed to be willing to listen to people who may have more expertise than they do.

“If you get enough people talking, you’ll solve your problems,” she said.

 

Traffic Calming Inching Forward in Sag Harbor

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By Stephen J. Kotz

An effort to make Sag Harbor’s streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists inched forward Tuesday when Mayor Brian Gilbride told members of a group that has promoted and offered to underwrite new traffic calming measures that they should continue their fundraising efforts as they await formal village approval—approval he reiterated could come as early as next month.

Susan Mead of the organization Serve Sag Harbor, which has offered to pay for the work, told the village board, that her group has selected four intersections—Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets, Jermain and Oakland avenues, and Jermain and Atlantic avenues—for a pilot program that would make use of painted pavement and planters to test the effectiveness of the designs.

The group had originally wanted to make Main Street at the John Jermain Library a top priority, but had chosen to hold off there because of ongoing construction, she told the board.

Ms. Mead said the total cost of the project, including design work, painting and planters, and in-kind donations would come to about $25,000.

Last month, when Michael King, a planning consultant for the group, made a presentation of eight potential intersections for the pilot program, the board indicated it would most likely be ready to give its formal approval at its June meeting. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said before the village formally signed off on the four intersections, he wanted the fire department, police and highway department to offer their input.

“I’m sure there is going to be some pilot project started and completed this summer,” Mr. Gilbride said on Wednesday, adding that a decision on whether to make them permanent is a long way off and depends on their reception by village residents. “I’ll be interested in seeing what the response is,” he added.

Of the four proposed intersections designs, the one that generated the greatest concern among board members was the one that called for a substantial narrowing and tightening of the sweeping corner of Jermain Avenue at Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street in front of Pierson High School.

“Good luck with that one,” quipped Trustee Ed Deyermond apparently in reference to the heavy traffic there at the start and end of the school day.

“This is just an observation, but you are going to have a problem there,” added Mayor Gilbride. “This is a pretty aggressive plan.”

“It is an aggressive plan,” replied Jonas Hagen, an urban planner who has been working on the project, “but it is pilot and it can be changed.”

Mr. Hagen, who is the son of village ZBA chairman Anton Hagen, said that the school corner was of special concern because of the presence of school children and “vehicles going around that corner at a very high speed.”

“I don’t want to moralize, but I think we know how high the stakes are,” said Mr. Hagen, adding that unless the village takes action to safeguard its streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, a tragedy is waiting to happen.

Before the board even began its discussion of the traffic calming project, Bayard Fenwick, who lives on Madison Street, near its problematic intersection with Jermain Avenue, called for action there during the public comment period.

“There are literally almost fistfights,” said Mr. Fenwick. “I can only imagine it’s going to get worse.” Mr. Fenwick, who offered to allow the village to mount monitoring cameras on his house, said that many drivers are apparently not aware that the intersection is a four-way stop. Matters are made worse, he added, because large trucks continue to use Jermain Avenue as a shortcut through the village and a large number of landscape trucks pulling long trailers further complicate things.

In other action, at the request of Mayor Gilbride, the board will hold a hearing next month on an amendment to the village code that would allow it to establish a rebate and incentive program for residents who upgrade failing septic systems.

“In the upper cove, we are starting to see issues,” Mr. Gilbride said on Wednesday. “We are a waterfront community, and this is something I’d really like to get done.”

Mr. Gilbride said he would like to see the village commit to spending $50,000 on the program. “If it is successful, we can continue it next year,” he added.

Rebates would being limited to 50 percent of the total cost of the work with total reimbursements, depending on the extent and type of work, capped at $2,500 to $6,000, according to a draft of the new law.

Mr. Gilbride estimated that a typical septic system would cost approximately $5,000.

“I would hope people around the water might take advantage of this,” the mayor added. “I think there are some failing systems that should be replaced. I’m thinking of older systems that go back to the ’70 when they didn’t always have a septic tank.”

Village attorney Denise Schoen, who was sitting in for the board’s regular attorney, Fred W. Thiele Jr., raised the concern that residents who have applications before the Harbor Committee or ZBA, which require them to replace their sepetic systems, might try to apply for the rebates. “I’m curious if they are also going to be eligible for this—and it is going to come up,” she told the board.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gilbride said the law would be tweaked to make sure that applicants who are ordered to replace their systems as part of a larger development project would not be allowed to apply for a rebate.

Sag Harbor Mayor Criticized for Lack of Capital Spending Plan

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Former Sag Harbor Mayor Pierce Hance was ready with the questions when the village board held a public hearing on April 2 on Mayor Brian Gilbride’s proposed $8.5 million budget.

Mr. Hance, who is a financial analyst, said the mayor’s failure to have a capital plan in place would have dire consequences as the village is required down the road to undertake dock and bulkhead repairs, drainage projects and even replace fire trucks.

“We have a couple of million bucks,” said Mr. Hance, referring to the village’s fund balance and repair funds, “and I can come up with $4 million in projects. I want to know what is your capital plan?”

“I haven’t even touched on the fire trucks,” he added. “In a couple of years we are going to spend a million dollars on fire trucks.”

When Mayor Gilbride said he wanted to avoid borrowing money to cover village projects, Mr. Hance asked “How are we going to pay as you go without a rather material increase in the tax rate?”

Mr. Hance also took aim at the mayor’s operating budget, saying it did not accurately reflect where the money would come from to meet certain expenses, such as a new police contract, which is currently in arbitration.

“Then you have an estimate of the cost?” asked Mr. Hance. “I have an assumption,” replied the mayor. “So there is enough money buried in this budget to take care of this?” pressed Mr. Hance. “No, it means something I’d like to get done won’t get done and it would be reallocated,” said Mr. Gilbride. “So, one more time we borrow from Peter to pay Paul,” said Mr. Hance.

Although the board had a resolution on its agenda to close the budget hearing when it met Tuesday night, it took no action, and Mayor Gilbride said a work session would be scheduled to work out final details of the spending plan before the May 1 deadline.

On Wednesday, Mr. Gilbride defended his approach to budgeting.

“Pierce is a smart, knowledgeable guy, but he’s just throwing harpoons,” Mr. Gilbride said. “I’m a pay-as-you-go guy. I’m not a guy who borrows a lot of money. We’ve gotten a lot done in this village without a capital plan.”

Mr. Gilbride said he prefers to budget for work as needed and do only what the village can afford at any time. Despite having no plan to create a capital plan, which is essentially a priority list for major infrastructure-related projects, Mr. Gilbride said he was looking forward to installing an elevator in the Municipal Building, earmarking money to help waterfront homeowners replace aging septic systems and to undertake some drainage improvement projects, and developing parkland south of the Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The mayor said the village is still paying off some bonds that were issued when Mr. Hance was mayor. “It was cheap money back then too,” he said. “We have refinanced and saved about $170,000 in interest and I’m proud of that.”

But Mr. Hance found some support from Mr. Gilbride’s colleagues. “I think he raised a lot of questions,” said Trustee Ken O’Donnell on Wednesday.

“You don’t work your entire life to be able to buy a house. You take a mortgage,” he said. “There is good debt and there is bad debt. Bonding to repair Long Wharf I’d say is good debt. With interest rates at all-time lows, why aren’t we bonding it and using cheap money to help with the infrastructure of the village?”

Mr. O’Donnell said he had grave concerns about the mayor’s efforts to pay for an elevator in the Municipal Building and suggested rather than sinking $200,000 to $300,000 into that project, the village should find out if the third and fourth floors, which are not used now because they are not considered safe, can be renovated and rented out as office space to bring in additional revenue.

Although it is a small item, Mr. O’Donnell said he wanted to restore the $4,000 the village used to give to the Chamber of Commerce to staff its tourism kiosk at Long Wharf. “I’m looking forward to some give and take,” he said of the budget process.

Trustee Ed Deyermond also expressed misgivings about the elevator project. “If you try to run an elevator up there we have to be very careful to make sure the building is structurally sound,” he said Wednesday, adding there could be hidden costs.

“A capital budget is a key to municipal finance,” he said. “Without a capital budget you have to pay for things as you go and we’re typically talking about huge expenditures for things like road improvements, drainage and fire trucks.”

But Mr. Deyermond stopped short of saying he thought the village should have a capital plan and said he doubted the mayor would develop one, especially not this year with the deadline for adopting the budget less than a month away.

Mr. Hance was not as diplomatic. “This budget is a joke,” he said on Tuesday. “The finances of the village are a joke. On the operating side, I don’t have any confidence at all. On long term capital planning I have even less.”

Sag Harbor Village Board: Ambulance Corps Looks Towards Paid Help

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By Kathryn G. Menu

For Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Ed Downes each passing year is a record breaker, as emergency service calls increase and volunteers scramble to ensure the community has an ambulance corps it not only can count on, but one it can be proud of.

And they are certainly not alone.

Since last spring, the East End Ambulance Coalition — a group of representatives from volunteer ambulance companies from Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Amagansett, East Hampton, Springs and Montauk — have been working together towards a paid first responder program, which they hope will launch in the summer of 2014.

Starting this past June, the Montauk Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners approved a pilot program for this past summer, providing for one paid EMT 24 hours a day, seven days a week through mid-September.

Many departments on Long Island, including Southampton, have moved towards having at least partially paid paramedics and first responders who work with local volunteers, improving response times as a result.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting last Wednesday, trustee Ed Deyermond noted with the increase in call volumes, considering a paid emergency medical technician (EMT) is something that should be considered within Sag Harbor’s fire district.

According to Downes, the company will likely seek to work cooperatively with the East End Ambulance Coalition, which was set to meet again Friday, towards a regional paid first responder program before seeking to fund a program for Sag Harbor alone.

Downes said if implemented, the coalition would have a team of three to as many as five paid responders on duty, available to respond along with one of the coalition companies to any emergency service situation from Bridgehampton to Montauk.

“The biggest problem is funding,” said Downes of the coalition’s efforts. Working with both East Hampton and Southampton towns for funding is being considered, he added, with the coalition waiting for newly elected town boards to take office before making any formal proposals.

No matter what program is implemented, Downes said all the fire districts will still rely heavily on volunteers. Working together, for example through the implementation of a daytime duty crew — a program established by coalition companies this July — is critical, he added. Downes said he expects the daytime duty crew is something the coalition will continue next summer.

A duty crew made up a volunteers from one of the coalition companies was on call Monday through Saturday to respond to any ambulance call, along with the home company the call originated from. The program gave the all-volunteer ambulance companies a back-up team to rely on.

For Downes, and the 29 members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, while having paid first responders on-call in a regional capacity would be a welcome help as calls continue to increase, the volunteer force will always be essential.

“Everyone gives what they can and all that they can,” he said.

In other emergency service news, last Wednesday Deyermond once again brought up the need for a helipad for medevac purposes in Sag Harbor. Last month, Deyermond suggested it could be something constructed near Havens Beach. Last Wednesday, he noted it would have to support a 24 ton military helicopter.

“Maybe we can get a ballpark figure and see if this is going to fly,” said Deyermond.

The village board also passed a resolution made by Deyermond to purchase 16 new air packs for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department at a cost not to exceed more than $70,000 out of the excess budget available through the fire department, and the remainder to be funded through the village’s contingency fund.

Deyermond said the village was also looking at the cost of purchasing two new dry suits for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team.

Last month, the fire department reported that 17 of its 60 air packs had to be replaced with newer models as they were now rated as “substandard.” Two of the dive team’s three dry suits, critical for water rescues, have been in and out of repairs.

In other village news, the board introduced two new local laws last Wednesday that will be up for public hearing at its January 14 meeting.

First is a local law amending the zoning code to require a certificate of appropriateness from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board (ARB) for any exterior “alteration, restoration, construction, reconstruction, demolition or material change in the appearance of such a property that is visible from an adjacent street or adjacent property.” A certificate of appropriateness would not be required for interior renovations alone.

The board will also hold a public hearing for a change to the building code, requiring sediment control during the course of a building project to protect natural vegetation and topography by requiring a project-limiting fence, mesh, straw bales, or similar devices during construction and any clearing or grading of land.

“First of all, this is usually done as a matter of course in most projects anyway but this will give the building inspector the right to enforce it,” said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

The board was also unanimous in renewing its agreement with the Sag Harbor Community Rowing Club, which will be able to continue its program at Cove Park, a small public park near Redwood Causeway.

The not-for-profit Sag Harbor Community Rowing Club has been rowing off Cove Park since its founding in 2008. In addition to competitive rowing for middle and high school students, the organization also has adult programming and camp offerings in the summer. For more information, visit rowsagharbor.org.

The board did table a request by Martin Monteith to run a sailboat charter from outside the breakwater for the 2014 summer season. Monteith was asking the board for permission to load and unload passengers from the village docks.

Thiele cautioned the board that if it was going to allow the use of its dock space it would have to charge a fee.

The board asked Harbor Master Bob Bori to weigh in on the matter before making a decision.

The board also denied a request by Susan Mead of the not for profit Serve Sag Harbor to host a fundraising event on Long Wharf June 28 and June 29.

“I am happy to entertain it at a different venue or on a different day, but it’s just that this is Long Wharf we are talking about,” said board member Robby Stein.