Tag Archive | "sag harbor village"

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.


Village Revokes Page Outdoor Dining License

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Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant's outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Staff members clear tables and chairs from in front of Page at 63 Main after the Sag Harbor Village Board revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

After a month of behind-the-scenes wrangling over unapproved renovations made at Page at 63 Main, the Sag Harbor Village Board pounced on Friday, July 18, revoking the restaurant’s license for outdoor dining on Main Street.

The village took the action even after one of the restaurant’s attorneys, Dennis Downes said losing the option to offer outdoor dining would cost the restaurant between $7,500 and $10,000 a day and even jeopardize its ability to stay in business.

In an 11th hour bid to appease the village, Mr. Downes said Page’s owners had offered to immediately shut down their Back Page café, behind the main restaurant, until zoning and fire code violations there were rectified and a site-plan issued for the property.

Mr. Downes conceded that mistakes had been made, but said the restaurant had been held up during the planning process and had to do the work before approvals were in hand to be ready for the summer season.

“Without those seats, there is a lot of money being lost,” he said of the outdoor dining. “It could be the difference between being able to stay alive in the winter where there are less people out here.”

But the board would not be swayed. “We’re here talking because when there was a suspension… the right thing would have been to remove the tables and chairs and let’s get to the bottom of this,” Mayor Brian Gilbride said.

He referred to an action taken by building inspector Tim Platt, who had cited the business for doing the renovation work with neither a site plan approval nor a building permit and had ordered it to suspend its outdoor dining service until the charges were sorted out. Instead, he said, the restaurant’s owners “thumbed their nose” at the village.

The board’s action clearly got the restaurant owners’ attention. A few minutes after it revoked the license, and Page’s owners and managers left the Municipal Building grumbling among themselves, waiters and busboys were scurrying about, clearing the tables and chairs from in front of the restaurant before the evening’s dinner rush.

On Tuesday, Mr. Downes, and Tom Horn, another attorney for the restaurant, were in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court for an initial appearance on the restaurant’s behalf. Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni said she would have to recuse herself from hearing the case because of a relationship with one of the restaurant’s owners and adjourned the case until August.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mr. Horn, who said he had only had time to quickly review the charges against the restaurant, nonetheless expressed confidence it would prevail in court. “I think the charges are technically flawed and actually flawed,” Mr. Horn said, “and I say that based on my 11 years’ experience as a fire marshal.” Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Horn was a fire marshal for East Hampton Town.

The restaurant’s saga took another turn on Tuesday night when Mr. Downes, and Gerard Wawryk, one of its owners, appeared before the Planning Board, trying to straighten out the confusion over the restaurant’s renovation project, which was undertaken this spring.

The key issues revolved around changes to the proposed site plan for the dining area now known as the Back Page Café. At a June 26 village board meeting, then-planning board chairman Neil Slevin said the restaurant had done work that planners had not intended.

That included moving without permission the location of an enclosure that would allow it to keep its dumpsters refrigerated as well as the replacement of a grass waiting area with a bluestone patio.

One of the village’s attorneys, Denise Schoen, said that the wooden Dumpster building, which had been placed next to a fence beside Murph’s Backstreet Tavern and connected to the electric service, posed a fire hazard, a charge the restaurant’s owners denied.

Ms. Schoen added that the Back Page had originally been presented as a waiting area, where restaurant patrons could enjoy a drink or hors d’oeuvres while waiting for a table inside, but had, in fact, been turned into an outdoor expansion of the restaurant.

Mr. Downes has said the planning board approved the changes when it accepted a new survey of the site last winter, but board members said it was an oversight.

Despite the disagreement, planning board members were amenable to tweaking the site plan for the Back Page and said they would okay the bluestone patio even though it would exceed the allowable lot coverage because it was served by sufficient drainage.

But planners said they would not allow the dumpster enclosure to remain in its current location because it effectively eliminated the restaurant’s driveway and prevented delivery trucks from backing in off the street, forcing them to instead block one lane of traffic on Division Street.

On Tuesday, Mr. Wawryk offered to remove the dumpster building and replace it with two smaller enclosures that would be set back on either side of the driveway farther from Division Street to provide space for delivery trucks.

Planners said they would send a memo supporting the changes to the village Zoning Board of Appeals, which has held off on a decision on the restaurant’s application for variances, pending a resolution of the site plan issues.

At last week’s special meeting, when the board informed Page’s owners that it was considering revoking the restaurant’s outdoor dining privilege, Mr. Downes tried at first to argue that it was “a was “a valuable property right” that the village could not revoke without “due process.”

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. called those charges “ludicrous,” adding that the village only charged $100 for a license and said if outdoor seats were as valuable as Mr. Downes said they were, the village should be charging more. “It’s a privilege to use public property for a private use,” Mr. Thiele said.

Sag Harbor Yacht Yard Told to Shove Off

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Sag Harbor Village this week gave Lou Grignon, the owner of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, 30 days to vacate a parcel of village-owned waterfront land has used for the past 20 years as a boat storage area.

The village issued the eviction notice after negotiations to reach a new lease agreement failed. The yacht yard’s 20-year lease for the property ended on May 31.

On Wednesday, Mr. Grignon, who owns the buildings adjacent to the village property he has been leasing, said the village’s decision would effectively put him out of business.

“If I don’t have room to store boats, I don’t have room to be a boatyard,” he said, adding that he typically stores about 130 boats on the property each winter.

He said he had hired attorney Dennis Downes to represent him as he seeks to stay at the site.

“Mr. Grignon had an opportunity” to sign a new lease, said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “It’s time for the village to move forward and get that property back.”

Mr. Gilbride said the village had options for the property, which could range from using it as a park, for a parking lot or a place to expand the Sag Harbor farmers market, but he said nothing had been decided yet.

Mr. Grignon said he had been paying $15,592 a year for the boat storage area in the last year of his lease. He said the village told him an appraisal found the property should be rented for $20,000 a year.

“So I put forth an offer of $20,000 a year for the first year, which is roughly a 25-percent increase,” he said. Mr. Grignon added that he sought a 10-year lease with a 10-year option to renew with annual increases of 2.3 percent.

“That was right on par with cost-of-living increases and everything,” Mr. Grignon said. “Not to mention that we just went through the worst recession in history.”

The village countered with an offer for a five-year lease, with the first year at $22,500 and annual increases of 5 percent, he said.

“This is a dollar and cents issue,” he continued. “For them to raise the rent 33 percent and then 5 percent more a year doesn’t make sense. We’d have to power wash a lot of boats to make it work.”

The property, which was once used by the Mobil Corporation to store fuel oil, was contaminated by leaks from storage tanks. It was turned over to the village for a nominal fee under an agreement that there would be no buildings constructed at the site.

Mr. Grignon said the site had been used as boatyard dating to 1797 and is the only boatyard outside the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge.

Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait said the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan requires that the village try to maintain water-related uses and businesses. He said it would not be suitable for parking because that is not a waterfront use and it is too far from the business district.

“This village is a maritime village. The last thing you want to get rid of is the boatyard,” said Dr. Tom Halton, a committee member at Monday’s meeting.

“What’s in the best interest of the people of Sag Harbor?” asked Mr. Grignon. “Do they need more parking or do they want a boatyard?”

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.”

Trustees Want to Squeeze in More Parking Spaces

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A boat on a trailer, taking up more than two spaces, was stored in the Sag Harbor long-term parking lot on Bridge Street recently. Photo by Ken O’Donnell. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

As summer approaches, parking spaces in Sag Harbor Village become about as esay to find as an affordable rental. Cars wait for spaces to open on Main Street, forcing traffic to back up for a block or more. Or they circle various municipal lots in a futile search for an opening, while traffic control officers, their chalk sticks and ticket books at the ready, wait.

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein, whose office looks out from above the Yoga Shanti over the main municipal lot behind Meadow and Bridge streets, said about two years ago, he began ruminating on ways to increase the number of parking spaces in the limited area available in the business district.

Recently, he joined forces with Trustee Ken O’Donnell to examine whether the long-term lot, sometimes called the Gas Ball lot, could be turned over to a private parking company that would post an attendant there and try to maximize parking by charging a $5 fee for 24-hour parking.

“If we’re not aware of it today, everyone will be aware of it in two weeks when the kids get out of school that the village has a parking problem,” Mr. O’Donnell said this week.

Mr. Stein said the two trustees spoke to Advance Parking, which manages parking lots and runs event parking, and it suggested leaving one row of the gas ball lot for resident 24-hour parking and allowing it to “stack” cars into spaces as a way to maximize the number of cars that could be fit in.

Mr. Stein said the company thinks it could squeeze another 40 to 60 vehicles into the lot, and because it would turn over $1 for every $5 it earns, the village could earn “several thousands of dollars a week” at the peak season.

“I pass the gas ball every day on my way to work,” said Mr. O’Donnell, and it is not being properly used.” He reported seeing an RV parked in the lot for months last winter, and more recently photographed a boat on a trailer that had been left there.

But the plan, which the trustees brought before the village board on June 10, received a lukewarm reception at best, with Mayor Brian Gilbride saying the village would have to write up an official request for proposals before it could even begin thinking about implementing the idea.

Then, he said, it would have to clear the idea with National Grid, which leases the property for a pittance to the village on a year-to-year basis.

Nada Barry, a regular at board meetings and an owner of the Wharf Shop toy store on Main Street, said the proposal would cause a nightmare for employees who struggle as it is to find parking.

“I like them thinking out of the box,” she said on Wednesday, “but I don’t think that’s the solution.”

Although the trustees raised the idea of providing village businesses with a set number of parking passes, Ms. Barry said that would not be feasible for a business like hers that has a large staff of part-time employees coming and going.

Besides, she said, she doubted the village would make much money out of the arrangement.

What the village should do, she said, is better spread the gravel and mark the individual spaces in the gas ball lot, which would make it a more efficient use of space.

Mr. Stein said he is not giving up on the idea and was waiting for village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. to find out from National Grid what it would think of the village turning the lot into a revenue generator.

“It’s just one idea,” he said, adding that “Sag Harbor has always had a parking problem” and he was not ready to throw in the towel.

In the meantime, he said, he would continue to search for ways to maximize parking in the village lot, including the lot outside his window. By rearranging the configuration, to allow separate stalls for small cars and motorcycles, Mr. Stein said he believed another 40 spaces could be found in that lot

Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees Closing the Books

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will meet at 9 a.m. next Thursday, May 29, for its annual end of the fiscal year meeting. The board will also consider any other items that must be addressed in a timely fashion at the meeting, which takes place on the second floor of the Municipal Building on Main Street.

The North Haven Village Board of Trustees will hold its own meeting to close the books on the 2013-14 year at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, at North Haven Village Hall on Ferry Road.