Tag Archive | "southold"

Whalers Get Past Southold to Open Playoffs

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Pierson catcher Aaron Schiavoni tagging out Southold’s Anthony Fedele at home plate on Monday. The Whalers won, 2-1. Michael Heller photo

By Gavin Menu

The regular season is over, something the Southold baseball team made abundantly clear Monday at Mashashimuet Park.

The visiting Settlers nearly pulled off an upset for the ages but ultimately fell one run short, losing 2-1 to the top-seeded Pierson-Bridgehampton Whalers, who have lost just a single game all season.

Southold moved into the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination Suffolk County Class C bracket and will face Port Jefferson on Thursday, a team they beat to open the playoffs last week. The loser of that game will be eliminated and the winner will move on to face Pierson this Saturday back in Sag Harbor at 11 a.m. A win would earn the Whalers their second consecutive county title, while a loss would mean a second meeting, again in Sag Harbor, with a winner-take-all game on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

On Monday, it was a defensive gem turned in by Pierson that ultimately made the difference in the game. Trailing by one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, Whalers centerfielder Jack Fitzpatrick threw a perfect strike to shortstop Forrest Loesch, who turned and threw a laser to catcher Aaron Schiavoni at home plate. Schiavoni tagged out Southold’s Anthony Fedele to prevent what would have been the tying run.

“Jack got the ball in quick and threw a strike to Forrest,” head coach John Tortorella said of the play. “It was perfect.”

Of course the Whalers also had their senior ace on the mound in Colman Vila, who turned in yet another masterful performance, which has become routine for the lefthander. Vila struck out 16 batters and allowed just three hits to improve to 8-0 this season.

Rob Mahony also pitched a complete game for Southold, allowing seven hits with the team playing tremendous defense behind him. The Whalers scored in the second inning on an RBI single by Nick Kruel that brought Tim Markowski home from second base. They tacked on an insurance run in the fifth inning with an infield single by Loesch that scored Fitzpatrick.

For a team so used to run production—Pierson routinely put up 10 runs or more per game this season—it was small ball that prevailed for the Whalers on Monday.

“They’re a good team and they came to play today,” Tortorella said about Southold, which had lost four times to Pierson during the regular season by an average of almost ten runs per game. “We hit the ball well but they made a lot of great plays in the outfield. You get better from games like this.”

Southold scored its first run in the sixth inning on a shot to centerfield by Alex Poliwoda that scored Shayne Johnson from second base. Fedele was waved home by head coach Mike Carver but was nailed at the plate on the perfect throw from Loesch.

The game turned chippy in the bottom half of the sixth when designated hitter Johnny Chisholm crashed into Mahoney on a routine pop-fly on the first-base line. Mahoney went hard to the ground and Chisholm was ejected from the game.

Vila closed the door with three strikeouts in the seventh inning, but a long postgame talk in centerfield clearly carried a mixed message from Tortorella and assistant coach Benito Vila.

“I wasn’t happy with how we operated there, and it’s got nothing to do with baseball,” Tortorella said. “I feel like we let our emotions get the best of us. We didn’t act like we should be acting, like Pierson baseball players should be acting.”

The Whalers will have a chance on Saturday to get back to doing what Pierson baseball has become accustomed to, which is winning championships.

 

 

 

 

Suffolk County Expands Sunday Bus Service

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On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved legislation providing a minimum of $1.1 million and as much as $2.1 million to expand the county’s Sunday bus service — a move Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said would provide environmental and economic benefits moving into the summer season.

“We are building upon the successful pilot program for Sunday bus service we launched two years ago on the East End,” said Schneiderman. “Sunday is a busy day for retail and service-oriented businesses. Employees need to get to work and employers need a workforce they can depend on.”

“This resolution is a step forward to expand bus service while cutting our deficit,” County Executive Steve Bellone said. “Expanding bus service helps take cars off the road and provides opportunity and access for thousands of Suffolk County residents. I commend Legislator Schneiderman for his continued leadership to make Sunday bus service a reality in Suffolk County and working alongside me to expand service and provide deficit relief. I also want to thank our state delegation for their hard work to get Suffolk County’s transit aid increased by approximately $2 million.”

“Many businesses on the East End, including in my North Fork legislative district, rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs, especially during the summer season, and I strongly support Legislator Schneiderman’s initiative to expand Sunday service,” said Legislator Al Krupski. “It’s an important economic boost for my district and will also help workers get to the jobs they need to be self-sufficient. And it’s a win for all Suffolk County taxpayers by helping cut our general fund deficit.”

“Today’s vote is an important first step towards creating the seven-day-a-week bus service that Suffolk County deserves,” said Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “This investment in Sunday and evening bus service is a down payment that will help riders and local businesses immediately, while also laying the groundwork for additional service expansions in the future.”

A successful pilot program for Sunday and holiday bus service was in effect for two summer seasons, Memorial Day to Columbus Day, on two eastern Suffolk routes — the S92 and 10C lines — subsidized in part by a 25 cent higher main fare on those riders. New York State recently increased its State Transit Operating Assistance (“STOA”) for Suffolk Transit by approximately $2,100,000 above the level anticipated in the Suffolk County 2013 budget, giving the county the opportunity to establish Sunday bus service year-round on limited routes.

“Recognizing the depth of the county’s fiscal problems, I agreed to allow half of this additional state funding to be used to close our county general fund deficit,” said Schneiderman. “I am hopeful that a federal grant for $1,000,000 will make up the difference and we should learn about our grant success in June.”

Schneiderman’s legislation would use $1.1 million of the increased funding provided by New York State to expand bus services in Suffolk County in the evenings and on Sundays. It would also direct the county Department of Public Works to apply for federal matching grant funding through the Job Access Reverse Commute (“JARC”) program, with the goal of achieving a total of $2 million in new funding for expanded Sunday and evening bus service.

Under the legislation, the Department of Public Works would develop a plan, within 30 days of the resolution, to expand the county’s bus service in the evening hours and on Sundays to the fullest extent possible within the limits of the additional state funding. The plan for expanded bus service would be continued as a pilot program for one year. DPW would report on the success of the pilot program to the County Legislature’s Public Works Committee no later than 270 days after the pilot program begins and make recommendations as to the feasibility of continuing the program beyond the one-year pilot period.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees Unanimously Adopt $8.78 Million Budget That Lays Off an Officer

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Early last Thursday morning, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8.78 million budget for 2013-2014 which includes a $519,000 budget for the village’s sewer fund. But among the items reduced for 2013-2014 is the village police department’s budget —  which will now be forced to cut one officer, leaving the department with 10 officers and its chief.

The decision, after months of debate, will result in officer David Driscoll losing his job with the department as its newest hire. Driscoll, an officer who transferred to the department from the Southampton Town Police Department, was honored as the village’s officer of the year this past January for his work in 2012, including for his service as a member of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office East End DWI Task Force.

The general fund budget of $8,263,381 is a 2.57 percent increase over the 2012-2013 adopted budget and falls below the allowable 4.1 percent spending increase under New York State’s mandated two percent property tax levy cap.

The tax rate under the budget, per $1,000 of assessed value, is set at 2.830, a 3.89 percent increase over last year. Village treasurer Eileen Touhy estimates a house valued at $795,000 in Sag Harbor Village would pay $2,249.85 in village taxes, a 0.0389 increase or $84.27.

Throughout the budget process, the village board discussed scaling back the number of officers in the Sag Harbor Village Police Department to 10 officers. The department currently operates with 11 officers and the chief after the departure of officer Michael Gigante last year amid an ongoing contract negotiation between the village and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

Officers in the department have been working without a contract for close to two years now. That contract negotiation is currently in arbitration.

While the vote Thursday morning was quickly held — and was unanimous among the board’s four members, Mayor Brian Gilbride, Deputy Mayor Ed Gregory, trustee Kevin Duchemin and trustee Robby Stein — what followed was a prolonged debate between members of the department, its chief and the village board about the impact this decision would have on public safety in Sag Harbor.

Police Chief Thomas Fabiano questioned the decision and asked if the board intended to increase his overtime budget, estimating it could cost as much as $300,000 in overtime to replace losing an officer.

“To me this is, again, an incomplete budget,” said Fabiano, adding he feels officer Driscoll has been used as a carrot in ongoing negotiations with the PBA.

Gilbride dismissed that claim and questioned how the schedule would necessitate an additional $300,000 in overtime.

“This is not about an officer or anything else, but it is about the fact we don’t have an unlimited budget,” said Stein. He added he has received calls from people asking the future of the department be put to a public vote, something he is reluctant to do because he is unsure whether the outcome would result in Sag Harbor maintaining its own police department.

Fabiano noted the village board had not even reached the tax levy cap limits yet and questioned why Stein — or other board members — had not talked to him about the impact this will have on his department.

Stein responded he had spoken about this cut at previous meetings, but did not want to have private meetings about a public issue.

Gilbride said ultimately the decision came down to whether or not the village could afford these kinds of costs. The police department budget for 2013-2014, before any figures are calculated when arbitration ends and officers are compensated retroactively for any increases in salaries or benefits for the last two years, is for $1,659,765.

Fabiano said this is a safety issue and called on the board to develop a long range plan for the police department.

“Summer’s coming up and now I have another guy leaving,” he said, adding part time officers are reluctant to come to Sag Harbor given the level of discourse regarding the police department.

“I am confident with 10 people this village can run a police department,” said Gilbride, who added he went to arbitration last week with a specific goal of trying to keep the 11th position with the support of the full village board. He alleged the PBA asked for a three percent increase in salary and eight-hour fixed shifts, but did not make an effort to save officer Driscoll’s position.

“Why would we put ourselves in a position to not negotiate on behalf of the total membership,” asked PBA president Patrick Milazzo.

He added that the village has offered zero percent salary increases in negotiations and denied claims the PBA did not try to save the 11th position.

“I don’t believe you,” said Gilbride. “And this is not the first time you have not done something to save that 11th position.

“What I am trying to do is negotiate for my entire membership,” countered Milazzo. “What I am not going to do is put myself in a position where I am going to negotiate for a portion of my personnel. That is absurd.”

He added he believes the village is trying to paint this picture to put the blame of this loss on the PBA instead of the village board.

“The village is getting to the point where we can’t afford it,” said Gilbride.

“Then don’t,” said Milazzo. “Do it or don’t, but don’t half ass it.”

“Are you saying we should put something up to abolish the police department,” asked Gilbride.

“If you are not going to do it the right way, don’t do it,” said Milazzo, noting that has been his position consistently when discussing the future of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department.

“By diminishing our department by officer Driscoll’s position you are putting us all in jeopardy,” said Sergeant Paul Fabiano.

He added he believes the police budget and the ongoing contract negotiations should not be linked.

“We are supposed to train, we are supposed to prepare but when you have a one person shift, you don’t have adequate personnel, equipment to do the job, you are set up to fail and that is what is happening in my opinion,” said Sergeant Fabiano.

He added the chief was able to find some $70,000 or more in the budget to try and save the position and the village board should have worked to find the rest of the estimated $180,000 needed to keep the 11th position for the upcoming fiscal year.

The fear is not just for the community, said Sergeant Fabiano, but also for officers on duty, some of whom he feared may have to be on duty on their own to accommodate this loss of an officer.

Gilbride said he believed most shifts would remain two-man shifts.

“Can this department run with 10 people, yes. Does it run efficiently, no. Is there a safety issue, absolutely,” said Sergeant Fabiano, adding Detective Jeff Proctor — the department’s only detective — must work patrol duty, taking away from his investigative work.

 

Lady Whalers’ Fast Start Slowed by Southold

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By Gavin Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

One is an unassuming but emerging athlete at Pierson High School while the other is an elite field hockey star gifted with superior athleticism. Together, juniors May Evjen and Kasey Gilbride are wreaking havoc on girls basketball courts this season, leading the Lady Whalers in a strong start to the League VIII season.

“Kasey and May and Emily [Hinz] play tremendous defense,” Lady Whalers head coach Kevin Barron said this week. “Kasey gets point guards so nervous because she’s so quick can stay with everybody. And May scores almost all her points off steals. She has been great.”

After cruising to a 42-18 home win over Shelter Island on January 4 in which Evjen led the team on both ends of the floor, finishing with 12 points and eight steals, the Lady Whalers traveled on Tuesday to play at Southold-Greenport, the defending league champion. Gilbride got her first start of the season and she, Evjen and Hinz helped the Lady Whalers jump out to an early 15-point lead in the first quarter.

But with their entire lineup returning from last year, Southold methodically clawed back into the game and trimmed the lead to eight at halftime before tying the game at the end of the third quarter.

In the end, the Lady Settlers (3-3, 3-1 League VII) pulled away with a 47-41 win that dropped Pierson’s league record to 3-2 and overall mark to 5-6.

“They will definitely be the toughest team we play this year,” Barron said Tuesday night after a long bus ride home from the North Fork. “We were preparing for this game for a week-and-a-half and the girls were ready and pumped and that’s why we came out strong.”

Barron said the team’s trademark pressure defense was a big part of the early success against Southold, but said the aggressive play also led to foul trouble as a result, with Hinz, Bridget Canavan and Sydnee McKie-Senior all having to sit out during crucial stretches of the game.

“Southold was in the bonus almost the entire second half because we were being so aggressive on defense, which is partially my fault as the coach,” Barron said. “They hit 23 foul shots, so half of their points.”

More big games await this week starting at home on Tuesday, January 15 against Stony Brook and against Port Jefferson on January 25, also at home.

“We’ve been having trouble coming out fast, and today we came out very fast,” Barron said on Tuesday. “We told the girls that if we can do that against Port Jeff and Southold again later in the season, we can beat anyone. We just have to play the full 32 minutes.”

 

 

Schneiderman Praises County Budget as “Good for the East End”

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At the November 20 meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said lawmakers were surprised to learn that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had not vetoed a single budget amendment proposed by the legislature for the $2.8 billion 2013 budget.

In previous years, according to Schneiderman, former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy vetoed many changes proposed by the legislature to the budget submitted by the county executive.

“Not this year,” said Schneiderman. “There is a much greater level of cooperation between the two branches of government. We have come together to tackle the fiscal challenges that face the county as a team, and it’s paying off.”

Schneiderman said the county’s financial situation has improved greatly, in part because of what he called “difficult choices” the legislature has made including significant reductions in the county workforce. This year alone, Schneiderman said he and other lawmakers agreed to eliminate 700 positions from the county workforce.

Legislator Schneiderman served as a member of the Legislature’s Budget Working Group.

“The approved budget is good for the East End in many ways,” said Schneiderman who said this is the ninth county budget he has participated in without a general fund property tax increase.

“These are challenging times for everyone,” said Legislator Schneiderman. “It is our responsibility as elected officials to find ways to operate government without asking residents to contribute more.”

The county also increased dredging by $5 million for next year and increased the sales tax revenues distributed to East End police departments by $3.5 million while also decreasing the amount given to western Suffolk County by $17.2 million. Schneiderman said he has also secured an additional $113,500 in hotel tax revenues for East End museums and cultural centers, including Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and the new Parrish Art Museum.

Schneiderman said money was also allocated for the renovation of the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill in Sag Harbor. A total of $218,500 was given in cultural funding to East End organizations.

The budget also established a $5 million emergency fund for Hurricane Sandy related repairs.

 

Future of Sag Harbor-Greenport Ferry Service Unclear

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Whether or not the Peconic Bay Water Jitney — a passenger ferry service between Sag Harbor and Greenport that operated on a pilot season basis throughout the summer of 2012 — will be proposed for 2013 remains uncertain.

The passenger ferry service has been running since July after both Sag Harbor and Greenport villages green-lit a trial run in May. The Peconic Bay Water Jitney is a partnership between the Hampton Jitney and Response Marine’s Jim Ryan, who oversees the water Jitney between the villages. The Jitney seats 53 people below deck and has over 20 seats on the top deck.

The permit from the Village of Sag Harbor allows the service to run through October 31 when the temporary law allowing passenger ferry service from Long Wharf will sunset and ferry service will become illegal in Sag Harbor without board intervention.

Since the service started, the village has been studying the impact of the ferry service through its environmental planning consultants, Inter-Science Research Associates.

According to Inter-Science President Rich Warren, that study will not be completed until later this month.

According to Ryan, there has been no official discussions about the future of the ferry service while the Hampton Jitney awaits financial statistics about the ferry service expected later this month.

While Hampton Jitney vice-president Andrew Lynch did not return calls for comment this week, in last week’s edition of The Southampton Press, Hampton Jitney President Geoff Lynch stated the service generated less than $200,000 in revenue, with daily ridership around 200 passengers, short of the 300 to 350 the company originally said was necessary to keep the business afloat.

In that interview, Lynch said outside investors would likely be needed for the service to continue in 2013.

On Monday, Lynch said nothing was off the table and that he has personally met with investors regarding the future of the passenger ferry, which he said, despite rumors, has no intention of expanding to include a Connecticut launch to casinos, nor has any dream of making Sag Harbor Village a passenger ferry hub.

If anything, said Lynch, if the service moves forward, because of the lack of infrastructure in Sag Harbor it would look to a maritime port like Greenport to become a hub, but that even for 2013, the company was simply not there yet.

If they do want to move forward in 2013, the Peconic Bay Water Jitney will need the approval, again, of the Suffolk County Legislature as well as the village boards in Sag Harbor and Greenport.

In Sag Harbor, if the Peconic Bay Water Jitney hopes to operate outside of a conditional license it will likely need approval from not only the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, but also the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee, its planning board and potentially its zoning board of appeals.

Sag Harbor ARB Jurisdiction Questioned by Resident; Board Delays Voting

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Sometimes just one sentence, or the lack thereof, can cause a lot of confusion.

Until 2009, when the Sag Harbor Village zoning code was rewritten, the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) had jurisdiction over any project — commercial or residential — that required a building permit in the village, whether it was in the historic district or not.

While the 2009 code revision went as far as to define the different assessments the ARB should make depending on whether or not a project was within the village’s historic district, it left out one key sentence — that the ARB did in fact have jurisdiction over projects, commercial or residential, outside the historic district of Sag Harbor.

This year, because of that omission, the Sag Harbor building department stopped requiring projects outside of the historic district to seek ARB approval. This led the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to consider amending the code to give that board jurisdiction over all projects in the historic district and commercial projects outside the historic district. However, at last month’s village board meeting the Sag Harbor Historical Society, Save Sag Harbor and ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown asked the board to reconsider what they viewed as a jurisdictional change for the ARB, citing the importance of properties just outside the historic district but in the gateways to a village celebrated for its historic aesthetic.

They were heard and the village board instructed Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. to rewrite the code change to give the ARB purview over the entire village, still keeping a different, more lenient set of standards for properties outside the historic district.

That law was up for public hearing at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board meeting. This time it was not support for restoring the ARB’s jurisdiction over the whole of the village, but opposition that emerged through one resident, Bruce Fletcher, who plans to build a home in the village.

Fletcher has been working on the project since 2011 and for close to a year worked with the Suffolk County Health Department to gain that board’s approval so he could apply for a building permit through Sag Harbor Village. On Tuesday night, Fletcher said after meeting with Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt he learned the village was considering this code revision, a change he described as “adding another grueling step” to an already lengthy process to build a house.

“It seems to us in proposing a building totally in keeping with the neighborhood — in this case a three bedroom Cape — we should be able to get a decision without going to yet another committee,” said Fletcher.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said if it is in keeping in the neighborhood, Fletcher would likely not have a problem getting ARB approval fairly quickly. He added that in the last year, the village has allowed its attorney, Denise Schoen, to keep office hours to advise applicants on all the steps they will need to take to gain a permit.

“The way we were told, this was already something required in the past,” said Gilbride. “My understanding is this is not really adding anything.”

Thiele added that for the most part projects move fairly quickly through the village boards, as opposed to the county health department, which can require a lengthy approval process.

“I know the building inspector is not very fond of this expansion of this authority and I will thank him for this later,” joked Thiele.

Fletcher said he was not prompted by Platt, but rather by his concern over another layer of bureaucracy being added in an approval process.

“I don’t think this is helpful for the economy around here,” he said.

“I don’t blame you in coming here, but I am saying this could be a non-issue for you. Where this really comes in as important is in a project that really needs this type of scrutiny,” said Gilbride.

Thiele added the new code specifically did address the criteria the ARB should use in the historic district and outside of the historic district and that for whatever reason the specific sentence giving the ARB full jurisdiction was omitted.

The public hearing was closed. However, when Gilbride called for a motion to adopt the law he was met with silence by board member Kevin Duchemin. The only other member of the board in attendance, Ed Gregory, asked that the decision be held one month while he looked at ARB guidelines for approval.

The next Sag Harbor Village Board meeting will be held on October 9 at 6 p.m.

Thiele & LaValle Create CPF Advisory Opinions Bureau

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Since its inception in 1998, the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has raised approximately $757 million, which the five East End towns have used to preserve open space, farmland, historic buildings and places as well as recreational fields. During its tenure as a resource for preservation, the bounds of the CPF have been questioned for concepts like a 2008 proposal between East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor to use CPF funds to preserve Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, which was ultimately deemed a purchase that went beyond the intentions of the law.

The revenue for the fund is derived from a two-percent real estate transfer tax. It expires on December 31, 2030.

Last week, the architects of the CPF, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle, announced they have created a Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund Advisory Opinions Bureau in an effort to have a specific group ensure the effective and consistent administration of the fund.

The 11-member bureau will also provide legal opinions and interpretations regarding any questions that are raised about how the five East End towns — East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Shelter Island and Riverhead — are expending their CPF monies.

A representative from each of the five towns, appointed by the town supervisor, will serve on the board as will a representative from each of the East End villages. Thiele and LaValle will also appoint five members of the public at large.

“This Advisory Bureau will institute oversight measures to help protect the integrity of the Community Preservation Fund,” said Thiele. “The Peconic Bay Region taxpayers and communities deserve to know that the Fund is being implemented appropriately and consistently throughout the region.”

“Transparency and accountability to taxpayers is essential to the fund’s continued success,” said Senator LaValle.

A Wharf Shop at the Heart of Sag Harbor

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For nearly 45 years, The Wharf Shop has stood at the heart of Sag Harbor’s Main Street. Many things have changed since Nada Barry opened the doors in 1968, but not the philosophy of the shop.

“It’s about this community,” says Barry. “As long as we can pay our staff enough to live here, and the shop can economically survive, it’s not about the bottom line. I could have rented this place to a bank and made a lot more money. It’s not about that.”

Barry, who is a member of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and helped to create the web sitewww.sagharborkids.org, believes Sag Harbor needs a place that offers kids toys that are both educational and built to last.

“We spend quite a bit of time picking out items,” she says. “A lot of teachers come in here to supplement their curriculum. We weed through masses of books. We educate people from birth to 106.”

And it isn’t just the toys and books that make up The Wharf Shop’s business. So much of what the place offers is about the identity of Sag Harbor itself, which is one reason the store gets a major bump in business over HarborFest weekend. Barry said people come there looking to capture the essence of Sag Harbor as it was, and as it is.

“We try to have a lot of seafaring and whale-inspired merchandise for people who remember Sag Harbor as a whaling village,” says Gwen Waddington, co-owner of the store and Nada’s daughter. “We have more people coming in to buy whale pocketbooks and wallets as well as cast-iron whales and whale door knockers.”

The store also carries handcrafted wooden whales, created by longtime Wharf Shop employee Dede O’Connell. They have an extensive line of wooden replicas of familiar local landmarks, done by the Cat’s Meow, an Ohio-based company.

“We have the movie theatre, The Sag Harbor Express and we just got the windmill back,” says Waddington.  “Now on the back it acknowledges that the windmill has been named for John Ward, who helped to build it. We’re waiting for the newest, which will be Marty’s barber shop as a tribute to Marty.”

Waddington notes the bump that HarborFest is expected to bring will be particularly welcome after a summer that looked busier than it was.

“There seemed to be many more people,” says Waddington, “but they weren’t necessarily spending a lot of money. As far as people’s spending habits, I think they’ve become a lot more frugal since 2008. I think in the last two years it’s hit here more than it had before.”

At a time when people are suffering financially, Barry and Waddington know it’s important for a small Main Street business to be original and reliable.

“We just try to provide the best customer service we can and keep customers coming back when there’s a need,” says Waddington, “and to provide their special requests as well… People don’t want a generic town, and they don’t want a generic shop.”

To that end, The Wharf Shop is all about attention to the customer. This comes not just from the owners, but from all the employees. And that’s important to Barry.

“Our atmosphere is very much a family,” she says. “It’s a community unto itself. Our staff is extremely supportive and they work hard serving the customers. We are there for our staff in times of trouble and in good times, and that’s a basic philosophy.”

Barry also prides herself on educating the young people of the community in a business-sense.

“We’ve trained over 100 students for their first jobs,” she says. “We give them a groundwork of how to be good workers. We have them come back — lawyers and doctors and mothers now.”

The purpose of The Wharf Shop, according to its owners, is not to take from the community, but to add to it.

“We represent the old as well as being contemporary,” says Waddington. “We come to work to contribute to the community.”

The Wharf Shop (725-0420) is at 69A Main Street, Sag Harbor.


An Effortless Challenge for a Sag Harbor Couple

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By Emily J. Weitz; Photography by Michael Heller

Douglas Mercer, President of the Wellness Foundation, started the organization with a vow — to make East Hampton the healthiest town in the country.

While this is not an easy goal to measure, there are many participants in Mercer’s program who will say his efforts have been successful in changing one life at a time, and the reach of the Wellness Foundation has expanded to include Southampton, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor.

For one Sag Harbor couple, Susie and Jim Merrell, last year’s Wellness Challenge was a six week journey that has unfolded into a completely new approach to food.

“We were living the epicurean diet,” explains Susie. “It wasn’t just cheese. It was Cavaniola’s cheese. It was slow, local, and everything was the best of everything.”

Because they were already conscious eaters who paid attention to what went in to their bodies, the Merrells weren’t necessarily looking for the big change that was about to come.

“I didn’t want to do it,” admits Susie. “I liked the way we were eating. Jim sort of dragged me into it. Because it was just the two of us, there was no way we could do it if we weren’t on the same page.”

Jim had learned about the Wellness Challenge, a six-week program in which participants do away with all animal proteins and processed foods, by his doctor.

“I was trying to bring my cholesterol down and address some digestive issues,” Jim says. “Before we talked about any statins, he suggested I try the Wellness Challenge.”

“Even at the first meeting,” chimes in Susie, “I was telling everyone, ‘I’m not here because I want to be.’ But now I’d say I’m the one who’s more fanatical. I love eating this way. I love the way the food tastes, and the way I feel.”

Before the Wellness Challenge, neither Merrell knew it was possible to have a great meal without an animal protein.

“I didn’t know I could live without parmesan cheese,” says Susie, “but I really can.”

One thing the Merrells enjoyed about the Wellness Challenge is the fact their group really represented a cross-section of the community.

“The group was so diverse,” says Susie. “Not just the reasons they were there, but where they came from in the community and what they do. It was lovely. There wasn’t anything elitist about it.”

And when Susie announced she wasn’t there because she wanted to be, she wasn’t alone.

“This was not a group of the converted,” says Jim. “You aren’t going into a group that’s already convinced. There’s skepticism in everyone in the room.”

That healthy skepticism was refreshing to two foodies who loved their coffee and wine. It meant they were all in it together, and they would all approach the changes that were to come with their own obstacles and their own failures.

You have to bring current blood work to the first meeting, and there you will be weighed and measured. Then you’re given practical instructions for things to do.

“The first meeting is everyone introducing themselves and explaining why they’re there,” says Jim. “Some people just want to lose a little weight, and others have real health concerns. It was amazing: here is someone who’s had a bypass and they’re being told to do this. And then as you move forward, you get to see how people are evolving, and the benefits.”

Once they made the decision to do it, the Merrells say they found the whole thing remarkably easy.

“It was much more difficult in anticipation than what actually happened,” says Susie.

For Jim, the biggest transition was in creating a morning routine that set him up for a healthy day.

“I used to have coffee and a muffin for breakfast,” says Jim. “Now our daily ritual is a vegetable smoothie. It’s an unbelievable way to start the day. All these minerals and nutrients.”

For Susie, part of the intimidation was in the preparation, but once she bought the right foods, it became simple.

“Once you get over the idea that there needs to be an animal protein,” she says, “and you realize how much protein there is in leafy greens and beans and nuts, you start seeing limitless possibilities for the foods you’re eating. The transition wasn’t hard, but it took different planning. Now we have to soak the beans a couple of times a week, instead of marinating the steak. I’ve even figured out a way to make them look pretty.”

When they first began, Jim and Susie decided to do their best to stick to the regimen, even letting go of coffee and wine. At the end of the challenge, they said they could decide what worked for them. Now nearly a year has passed and the couple have kept to their vegan lifestyle — most of the time.

“At the end of the six weeks,” says Susie, “you feel so good that you think ‘I’ll never have a glass of wine or a piece of fish again. But now, we’ve broken every rule.”

That doesn’t mean they’ve given up.

“When we go out to dinner,” says Susie, “we never say ‘We’re vegan.’ But when we come home, we are. You’d think that after breaking a rule, you’d want to go back to the old way of being, but we never have, because this feels so good.”

“Nothing has curtailed our social life,” laughs Jim. “We know we can go back and be good most of the time. People tend to brand these things all or nothing, but so much is about the inconsequential meals: the breakfasts and lunches.”

They also eat a lot. They just eat a lot of healthy food.

“I eat constantly,” says Susie, and I never think about what I should eat based on calories. But I lost 10 or 12 pounds, 50 points off my cholesterol, and so many inches off my belly that I am embarrassed to even tell you. In that six weeks, it was so effortless.”

For Jim, the biggest surprise is the shift in mindset about it.

“Every time we talk to people, there’s always a one thing they couldn’t give up: coffee, cheese, wine. People put it into a frame of negation and self-denial. There wasn’t a whole lot of self-denial involved.”

Once he saw what he could eat, he realized how decadent it could feel.

“The kind of stuff that is natural is more luxurious than the bulk stuff,” he says. “Choosing between a muffin or a smoothie? What am I giving up here? You quickly get past the frame of self-denial and onto one of the pleasure, and all those better luxuries.”

The Fall Wellness Challenge begins October 1. To sign up, visit the website or attend one of the upcoming events. Tonight, a screening of “Younger Next Year” will take place at the East Hampton Rec Center. On Thursday, September 13 there will be an Optimum Wellness Seminar with Dr. Pam Popper at East Hampton Middle School. Vegan potluck dinners take place one Monday per month (the next one is September 10 at 6:30 p.m.) at East Hampton Middle School. Cost for materials, including two books, is $50. The cost for participation is free. Go to www.wfeh.org for more information.

 

Jim and Susie’s take on the Wellness Challenge Morning Smoothie

Put in a blender a handful of flax seeds, grind up dry.

Then add a banana, handful of blueberries, a couple of shitake mushrooms, 2 cups of kale, a cucumber, parsley and ginger (optional), one carrot cut up and a handful of frozen fruit.

Add a little pomegranate or cherry juice, then some water.

Grind it all up.

After the first sip, you realize you are drinking a vegetable, then you never think about that again.