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Village Supports Aquaculture Proposal, but is Looking for the Right Home

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Simon Harrison is proposing to raise oysters on Sag Harbor property and teach local schoolchildren about aquaculture. The question this week revolved not around whether Sag Harbor Village would allow Harrison to move forward with his plans, but where.

Last month, Harrison petitioned the village, through the two-year-old Sag Harbor Oyster Club, to allow the group to raise oyster seeds off Long Wharf. According to Harrison, the oysters would be raised purely to provide children in the Sag Harbor Union Free School District a hands-on opportunity to participate in aquaculture. The oysters would be released before they are large enough to be sold or eaten, said Harrison, adding to the local oyster population on the waterfront.

Just raising oysters, he noted, will have a positive impact on water quality as the shellfish act as filters, consuming algae and filtering as much as two gallons of water per hour.

At the Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee meeting on Monday and at the Sag Harbor Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Harrison’s concept was praised, but both bodies agreed that Long Wharf was not the right location for the project.

Trustee Bruce Stafford, the liaison to the Harbor Committee, said raising oysters below the floating docks off Long Wharf, as Harrison has proposed, could present a safety issue, echoing the concern of Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait.  Children from the school walking along the narrow dock, which has no railing, to inspect the oyster cages could prove dangerous.

“One kid trips, and we have problem,” said Stafford.

He suggested Harrison consider moving the program either to one of the large, fixed docks at the Breakwater Yacht Club or under the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge off Windmill Beach.

Mayor Brian Gilbride added that Harrison should work with Stafford and Harbor Master Bob Bori to find the right location for the project, and that Harrison should not be discouraged.

“Everyone wants you to do it,” agreed Deputy Mayor Tim Culver. “Once we find the right placement for the program, we can give a simple lease or license agreement that will allow you to connect the cages to the dock.”

“We will all work on it and try to find a spot that will work out for you,” said Mayor Gilbride.

“Or two spots,” said Harrison.

In other news, Mayor Gilbride praised village clerk Beth Kamper, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, Bori, Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley and all of the chiefs of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department for their response to Tropical Storm Irene last month.

“You did a tremendous job, and as a result I think we were one of the earliest areas to get our lights and power back on,” said Mayor Gilbride.

August was a busy month for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which was also out during Tropical Storm Irene, helping those in need.

According to trustee Ed Gregory, the Ambulance Corps received 98 emergency calls in the month of August — a record in its history, according to President Ed Downes.

“Every call takes at least two hours and that is a lot of time out of someone’s day,” said Gregory. “We have to give the Ambulance Corps. a lot of credit for what they have done here.”

Mayor Gilbride also gave credit to Nancy Haynes for her years of service on the village Harbor Committee. Haynes’ resignation from that board was accepted at Tuesday night’s meeting. She will be replaced, at the request of Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait, with committee alternate John Christopher.

Lastly, the board of trustees accepted a recommendation by Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie that the department purchase a new fire truck from Hendrickson Fire Rescue Equipment at a cost of $514,786, although $30,000 will ultimately be taken off the price tag once the department trades in its 1993 Spartan Pumper.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the full cost of the truck is covered in the fire department’s truck reserve fund.