Tag Archive | "Suffolk County"

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.

Larry Cantwell Tapped as Independence Party Candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Independence Party has tapped East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell as its candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor this fall.

Two weeks ago, Cantwell announced he would seek both the Independence and Democratic parties endorsement to seek the top seat on the East Hampton Town Board in elections this fall.

According to Independence Party chairwoman Elaine Jones — who made the endorsement announcement on Monday afternoon after screening candidates last Tuesday — “experience was clearly the most impressive quality among candidates this year.”

“Larry Cantwell received the nod for the Supervisor spot,” said Jones and vice chairwoman Pat Mansir in a press release issued late Monday. “He carries with him the peaceful demeanor needed to bring consensus and unified forward-thinking among people. And his more than 30 years in public service is a testament to the success of his approach.”

Cantwell screened with the Independence Party along with Zachary Cohen, who was the Democratic candidate in 2011, narrowly losing to incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson has chosen not to seek another term, and Nancy Keeshan, the town’s planning board vice chairman, once rumored to be the front runner for the Republican nomination, has withdrawn her name from contention.

“I am proud to have their nomination,” said Cantwell on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican Committee chairman Kurt Kappel has maintained his desire the party run its own candidate. When asked about the potential for a three party endorsement for supervisor, Cantwell said his focus was now on securing the East Hampton Democratic Committee’s endorsement.

That committee is expected to host its convention on May 15.

“My approach is one step at a time,” said Cantwell. “I am very pleased to have the Independence Party nomination because I look forward to being a consensus builder and leader in East Hampton. I think the Independence Party has shown a willingness to reach across party lines. Over the years, especially recently, they have endorsed candidates from different parties and I think the town is looking for someone who can reach across the aisle.”

The Independence Party has also endorsed Fred Overton and incumbent Dominick Stanzione for town board — candidates that have already received the endorsement of the Republic Committee.

Overton is stepping down from his long time position as town clerk this year. Stanzione is seeking a second term on the town board.

“For the last 48 years, Fred Overton served this community as a volunteer with the Springs Fire Department,” said Jones. “He has run his own business, was our town assessor for eight years and for 13 years has been the town clerk. In all of his positions he has been presented with difficult and confidential situations that were handled with finesse and genuine kindness. He us unflappable.”

Jones cited Stanzione’s ability to work with others and think independently as a board member as the reason for his endorsement.

“More importantly, he has been able to flourish under pressure when he has had to battle to be an independent thinker,” said Jones. “Dominick has stood up to politics and made decisions based on what is good for the people and the environment. He deserves four more years.”

The party also endorsed Carol Brennan — also supported by the Republican Committee — to take Overton’s seat as town clerk, and Joe Bloecker — a town trustee — for assessor. Bloecker also has the support of the Republican Committee.

Carl Irace, an East Hampton attorney who has won the Republican Committee endorsement and served as the assistant town attorney from 2010 to 2012, earned the Independence Party endorsement for town justice, and Stephen Lynch has been supported for another term as superintendent of highways.

Diane McNally, Stephanie Talmage Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Nat Miller, Steven Lester, Tim Bock, Brian Pardini, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles have the party’s support in the town trustee race.

“The Independence Party is committed to achieving the best government the town can possibly offer,” said Jones and Mansir. “That involves candidates from both parties working diligently together toward the best approaches and innovations for our town. The Independence Party, itself, will work endlessly to achieve these goals.”

Explosive Material Discovered in North Haven Detonated at Havens Beach Without Incident

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Photo by Bryan Boyhan; Sag Harbor Village Police and officers from Suffolk County Bomb Squad responded to Long Wharf on Tuesday night after a small amount of explosives were discovered in the truck of a man repairing the finger docks on the wharf.

By Kathryn G. Menu

On Tuesday night around 5:45 p.m., Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf was cordoned off after village police said a man working on repairs to the village’s finger docks approached police and said he found explosive material in North Haven. Police said the man brought the material to Long Wharf where he was working and flagged down a police officer.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeff Proctor, the material was found in a mass of rocks the marine contractor was restoring in front of a private home in North Haven Village.

Detective Proctor said he believes what happened was the rocks used in the revetment replacement were sourced from a quarry, which used the explosives to break up larger boulders and then payload the smaller rocks into a dump truck where they are delivered to the work site. This material, said Detective Proctor, did not detonate.

According to Detective Proctor, who was on duty Tuesday evening with officer Nick Samot, police immediately decided to air on the side of caution, cordoned off Long Wharf and contacted Suffolk County Emergency Services bomb squad. The squad arrived around 7 p.m., said Detective Proctor, and safely transported the explosives in a secure container to Havens Beach, where it was detonated.

Residents around Sag Harbor were contacted by Suffolk County Police via a recorded message to warn them about the detonation, which was heard as far away as North Haven Village.

Proctor and Samot were the only officers on duty Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Detective Proctor said because of that, an alarm call had to wait two hours while the explosives were secured.

“Obviously, safety comes before security,” he said.

Alleged Counterfeit Culprit Collared

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By Kathryn G. Menu

This week, Sag Harbor Village Police arrested Daniel L. Gonzalez, 32, of Ozone Park in connection with a case involving counterfeit $100 bills police said he tried to use at village businesses this January.

On January 7, around 11 a.m. police said Gonzalez went to Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop on Division Street and intentionally used a $100 counterfeit bill, which the clerk at that store accepted. Police said Gonzalez then went to the neighboring Sag Harbor Beverage Store where he also attempted to use what police believe was another counterfeit $100 bill before he was rebuffed by a store employee.

An employee of Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop contacted police immediately and provided a detailed description of the suspect. Detective Jeffrey Proctor took charge of the investigation, which culminated in Gonzalez’s arrest by Sag Harbor Village Police on Wednesday morning at LaGuardia Airport.

During the course of his investigation, Detective Proctor made contact with different individuals connected to Gonzalez, and over time the detective was able to obtain a photo of his suspect. He used it in a photo lineup where victims identified Gonzalez as the man responsible for using the counterfeit money.

Gonzalez has no prior convictions, noted Detective Proctor, which made the case more difficult to crack in terms of finding an image for victims to positively identify him and also in tracking down Gonzalez west of the East End.

However, a source contacted Detective Proctor with information that Gonzalez intended to fly from New York to Ft. Lauderdale out of LaGuardia Airport, setting the stage for the Port Authority Police Department to pick up Gonzalez and read him his Miranda rights.

“This was just a case of some good, old fashioned police work yielding results,” said Detective Proctor following the arrest.

Gonzalez was transferred personally from LaGuardia Airport to the Sag Harbor Village Police Department headquarters by Detective Proctor and officer John Natuzzi, where he was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument — both felonies – and held for arraignment.

Bridgehampton Community Conversation Focuses on Budget Cuts

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Residents gathered at the Bridgehampton School last Wednesday, March 13, to discuss the proposed 2013-2014 budget and where cuts can be made. Photo by Amanda Wyatt

By Amanda Wyatt

With less than two months until its spring budget and board of education vote, the Bridgehampton School held its second annual “community conversation” last Wednesday for the public to help the district explore ways of trimming the proposed 2013-2014 budget.

“Tonight we’re looking for input, ideas and suggestions on how we might strategize as a board and as an administrative team if we have to make some difficult cuts,” said Dr. Lois Favre, superintendent.

During the opening presentation, Dr. Favre revealed that next year’s draft budget is $11,456,039, which is$759,675 or about seven percent higher than last year’s budget. Much of this increase can be attributed to rising costs in health care and retirement, step increases, increased technology needs and out-of-district tuitions.

The proposed tax levy for next year is $10,181,467, which is $747,221 or 8.13 percent greater than in 2012-2013.

Still, budgeting remains a tricky task, given that Bridgehampton and other school districts are once again facing a state-mandated two percent tax levy cap, which limits the amount of money they can raise through taxes.

But as Dr. Favre noted, it does not mean that taxes can only go up by two percent. For Bridgehampton specifically, the overall tax levy cannot exceed 4.48 percent. Exempt from the cap are the capital projects and increases in the teachers’ retirement system.

To stay within the cap, the school can only raise the budget by $423,036. This means that as it stands now, the school must trim $324,185 from its proposed budget or ask voters to support the district in piercing the tax cap, which would require at least 60 percent of all votes cast for the budget to be in favor of the spending plan.

And while the school has not ruled out the possibility of piercing the cap, administrators and board of education members have expressed a desire to “whittle down” the budget as much as possible.

“If we have to make cuts to make our tax levy limit, what are we willing to give up?” asked Dr. Favre.

“We built a wonderful program here for our kids. I’m the first one to tell you, I don’t want to live without any of it,” she added.

After the presentation, the audience split into six groups to discuss what they felt were priorities in the budget, and what cuts they would and would not make. Responses were, indeed, varied, but there were some items that several groups agreed were “non-negotiable.”

For example, several groups believed that keeping the cafeteria stocked with healthy, organic food was a priority and did not want to make any cuts in that category. Some groups emphasized the school needed to update its technology, and others said sports programs needed to be kept intact. For others, not cutting any programs or teachers was important.

When it came to making cuts, many of the groups agreed the number of school administrators could be reduced. According to literature given out at the meeting, Bridgehampton has four administrative positions, and cutting one administrator could save the district $150,000.

As one parent said, “In comparison to other districts, we are totally top-heavy…We have a district this size; do we really need a superintendent and a principal, both full-time positions?”

Making cuts in the areas of transportation, homework club, summer programs and summer curriculum work were all brought up in several other groups.

But as some participants pointed out, making stringent budget cuts would not be necessary if the school were to ask taxpayers to pierce the cap during the spring budget vote. Piercing the cap would mean not having to cut faculty/staff or programs, and not jeopardizing the quality of education at Bridgehampton, they said.

On the flip side, other groups pointed out the school could receive backlash from the community if they asked voters to pierce the cap. Furthermore, it would need 60 percent of voters to approve the budget and if the school’s request was rejected by voters, the consequences would be dire: Bridgehampton would not be allowed to raise the tax levy at all, and even more severe budget cuts would have to be made.

In related news, Bridgehampton School held a public vote on March 20 in order to establish a five year capital reserve fund. The fund — which comes from unanticipated savings and revenues received by the school — is intended to provide the district with monies for repairs outlined in its Five Year Plan.

Harbor Committee to Keep an Eye on Long Wharf

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees plans to move forward with small improvements and maintenance to Long Wharf now that the landmark and former county road officially belongs to the village.

This week, citing their belief that a long-term plan should be created surrounding its use and development, the Harbor Committee announced it would keep the wharf on its monthly agenda. Members also encouraged the public to attend monthly meetings to share their ideas about the future of the wharf.

Last month, the Harbor Committee sent a memo to the village board requesting it be allowed to lead public hearings on the future of Long Wharf. Now that the village owns the wharf, the idea, said chairman Bruce Tait, was to create a long-term plan to develop the wharf in a way residents would like to see it utilized.

In the trustees response to that memo, dated February 25, village clerk Beth Kamper said the village is working on a plan for improvements using an engineering report developed by Paul Grosser and the trustees would discuss these ideas in public meetings. Kamper said the board welcomed any suggestions or concerns the committee had in the meantime.

“What I take from this letter is that the trustees are not inclined to have us hold public meetings on the future of Long Wharf,” said Tait at Monday’s committee meeting.

However, Tait did instruct building department secretary Doris Alvarez to place the wharf on the committee’s monthly agenda and encouraged public participation.

“Rather than take this as an adversarial position, we should take this as an opportunity to explore ideas on what the vision of Long Wharf should be and we should try and take that and share those ideas with the trustees,” he continued.

According to a memo prepared by Grosser, necessary and basic improvements to Long Wharf to improve functioning, safety, and to continue to make it viable for the village, have been divided over 10 years based on a $100,000 annual budget for the wharf.

In 2013, the plan suggests asphalt removal, steel sheeting repair, back filling and compaction, installation of water and electric utilities on marine pedestals, lighting, asphalt repair for 391 linear feet of bulkhead and new ladders. Accomplishing that in 2013 will cost an estimated $173,095.

Over a 10-year period of time, according to Grosser’s memo, it will cost $1,517,046 to repair and maintain Long Wharf, including the replacement of its bulkhead, the creation of a concrete sidewalk and the installation of a cable railing along the bulkhead.

“It’s marginally better, but pretty much the way it has been for the last 30 years,” said Tait, adding he believes as one of Sag Harbor’s most important assets, the village should be looking forward at making the wharf better than it is today.

The committee sent the trustees a memo requesting Inter-Science Research Associates preliminary study on how Long Wharf could be improved for the better — a study completed during the administration of former mayor Greg Ferraris.

“I would like to look at those as a starting point for discussions,” said Tait. “I personally have seen the designs and they were very, very good.”

Offering the support of Save Sag Harbor, president Mia Grosjean said the not-for-profit would like to sponsor a forum for the community to discuss the future of Long Wharf, similar to a recent transportation forum held by the organization.

“I think your traffic calming meeting, bringing everyone together to have a discussion is so important for our community,” said Tait, noting the same vision made Marine Park one of the most used, and beloved, areas in the village, should be employed when thinking about the future of Long Wharf.

“It is time to think about this before piecemealing too much money into Long Wharf just to keep it like it is,” he said.

Committee member Jeff Peters asked the board to also ask the trustees why, if the village is going maintain Long Wharf, “it took so long to get the floating docks” on the west side of the wharf out of the water following the season.

Those docks were badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy at the end of October. On Tuesday, the village board awarded a contract to repair those docks to DJ Whelan Corporation of Sag Harbor at a cost of $74,000.

Harbor Master Bob Bori said last year he removed them at the end of the season. This year, said Bori, public works was given the task.

“We have less than a month before the village docking season starts and the village docks, according to the village harbor master, are in disrepair,” said Tait.

Bori noted transient docks can be used instead, particularly early in the season, however, Tait said that should be another topic that remains on the committee’s agenda for the time being.

Suffolk County Legislature Unanimously Votes to Adopt New Regulations for Sex Offender Housing, Monitoring

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On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill to create what sponsors say will be the strongest sex offender monitoring program in the country. The bill also shuts down two trailers that have housed homeless sex offenders. Both trailers were located in Southampton Town.

The Community Protection Act calls for homeless sex offenders to be placed in one of Suffolk County’s existing shelters and mandates that no more than one offender should be housed in one facility. It also calls for offenders to be kept separate from families in the shelter.

The bill was first introduced at a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety committee in Hauppauge last Thursday night. At the meeting, the Suffolk County Police Department and Parents for Megan’s Law outlined a plan to end the clustering of homeless sex offenders in any one community.

The announcement came one day after Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman held an East End Community meeting to see public comments on the county’s homeless sex offender trailer program.

A Power Point presentation was made by Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke at Thursday’s meeting.

The new plan for homeless sex offender housing will permanently close trailers in Westhampton and Riverside, which have served as the sole locations for homeless sex offenders to reside since 2006 much to the protest of both Southampton Town officials and residents.

Under the Community Protection Act, Suffolk County will contact with Parents for Megan’s Law at a cost of no more than $900,000 annually. Parents for Megan’s Law will create a system to monitor where sex offenders are residing and develop a system for community members to report if a sex offender is in violation. Community outreach, education and victim services will also be provided by the organization.

Suffolk County Police will also be responsible for address verification and ensuring officers have accurate and detailed information about offenders in their patrol area.

Currently, there are 1,016 sex offenders in Suffolk County, according to a report issued by Legislator Schneiderman this week.

Sag Harbor to Join South Fork School Districts in Grant to Explore Shared Services, Consolidation

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South Fork school districts are banding together for a second time in the hopes of earning a state grant to explore the possibility of school district consolidation and ways in which districts can work together to share services (and save some money).

After a consortium of East End schools failed to obtain a Local Government Efficiency Grant last fall, a number of districts — including Sag Harbor — are joining forces again to reapply for the same grant this year.

Last March, school districts and Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) applied for the grant, which could have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for a study on how they might consolidate or share services.

Despite strong support from New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele and New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, the districts learned in October that they had not been selected for the grant.

At Monday evening’s board of education meeting, it was announced that Sag Harbor School District was looking once again to partner with BOCES and other districts on the grant application.

“We would like to join with our neighbors and resubmit that application for funding for this grant,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent. “We want to do research regarding how we could save money by working together with our neighboring districts.”

“We’re going to take some suggestions given us in terms of the last application and see if we can tweak it and be successful this year,” he added.

Board member Mary Anne Miller, who had been BOE president during the first application process, pointed out that the grant was not “specifically [for] consolidation. It’s just one of multiple options. That was actually not the focus of the grant; shared services was the primary focus.”

The board noted that the school district was not interested in forming one large school district on the South Fork.

As Theresa Samot, school board president, said in a separate interview, the board simply hoped to find ways of “saving taxpayers money,” and that merging schools was not on the table at this time.

According to Samot, Dr. Bonuso will be meeting with several other school district administrations for the first time later this week, after which time she and other members of the board would know more about the grant. She added that the board would update the community on the process at future board of education meetings.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board of education gave an update on the Dignity for All Students Act, anti-bullying and discrimination legislation that went into effect in July 2012.

Called “the Dignity Act,” the law prohibits discrimination based on a wide variety of factors —including race, sexual orientation, sex, gender, weight, disability and religion — in schools or at school-sponsored events. For the first time, faculty and staff in New York schools are required to undergo training on how to deal with bullying and discrimination, and they must also report incidents in a timely manner.

Board members noted that the district planned to hold additional workshops on cyber-bullying and other related topics in the coming months.

Gary Kalish, assistant principal of Pierson High School, serves as Pierson Middle/High School’s coordinator for the Dignity Act. He said it was important to let students “know that all of these different kinds of harassment and discrimination is unacceptable.”

“And it’s my job to take care of it, not yours,” he added.

According to Matthew Malone, principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School, one of the important parts about the legislation was identifying the need for ongoing education about what bullying is.

The Internet, added board vice president Chris Tice, has changed the face of bullying. For example, she said, students will use social media websites or seemingly harmless cell phone applications like Instagram – a photo sharing service tied to Facebook – to bully or harass classmates.

Tice added that education about technology and bullying needs to take place for elementary school children.

“That wasn’t around two years ago. Instagram is another form of communication and kids are doing it in school in most grades,” she said.

Parents, said Tice, also need to be educated about the kinds of technology out there being harnessed as a tool for bullying.

“Their parents have a responsibility there, but I bet most parents don’t even understand Instagram,” she said. “I think the technology is really what’s ramped up a lot of the bullying, even at young ages, and I don’t think we’re doing as much as we could be in that area.”

Sag Harbor Eyes Long Wharf Improvements, Dock Repairs

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will host a ceremony on February 8, where he will offically hand over the deed to Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village officials.

The county gave Long Wharf to the village just last month, however, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees is already charting a financial course in how they maintain and improve the wharf as the village prepares to begin budget negotiations for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

On Friday, January 25, during a special session of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, Mayor Brian Gilbride said he would like to see money set aside for basic improvements to improve the safety of Long Wharf.

Gilbride said he would like the village to consider adding more ladders, lighting and also a safety railing around Long Wharf. It’s a project, the mayor added, that he would like to see completed before the summer season arrives.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Village Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley said he was exploring railings used on docks in other communities in an effort to find the right fit for Long Wharf. Particularly in light of the fact that owning Long Wharf will add a significant expense onto village coffers, Yardley noted it is critical yachts are still able to dock on the wharf, safely tie up and lower their gangplanks.

Also looking to its waterfront, on Friday, the board passed a resolution Friday to go out to bid for repairs on several docks damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The “A Dock” and “B Dock,” located on West Water Street will both be repaired, as will dinghy docks at Marine Park and on Bay Street, according to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Beth Kamper.

On Wednesday, Yardley said he expects to have bids in for consideration as early as next week.

The board also agreed to sign a purchase contract for $2,779 with Scribble Software, which Kamper said will make it easier for harbors and docks staff to complete sale transactions for transient docking.

It also passed a resolution to put out for a request for proposals for the seasonal launch service, which provides transportation to and from the village-owned mooring field.

In other news, Sag Harbor Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni approached the board to discuss the possibility of designating a court officer for the Justice Court.

Currently a member of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department, who may or may not have had something to do with someone being arraigned in the court, serves as the court officer. The position, which could be filled by a retired police officer, would also enable the Sag Harbor Village Police Department to keep that officer on the street, rather than in the courtroom.

On Monday, Gilbride said addressing the Municipal Building and how underused it is – particularly the third floor, which Gilbride has long envisioned the village expanding its offices into – is a priority he would like to address and one that could ensure the Justice Court, the village boards and the building department have enough space to work with.

Currently, Schiavoni keeps her office in the mayor’s office. The building department and village boards have also lost some space, namely a conference room on the second floor, with the addition of the Justice Court.

Gilbride said if the village looked into the installation of an elevator, which would replace an ailing lift between the first and second floors, expanding into the third floor would become a possibility.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney Will Not Return to Sag Harbor in 2013

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Despite finding some success late this summer, Hampton Jitney President Geoffrey Lynch announced this week the Peconic Bay Water Jitney would not traverse the waters between Sag Harbor and Greenport villages this summer, citing the financial cost of funding the water taxi service.

“Having said that, we don’t want to stop pursuing funding from outside sources, whether public or private,” said Lynch at a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night, adding the company would look into possible federal funding to help cover the capital costs needed to make the service a success.

The Peconic Bay Water Jitney – as it was coined by Lynch and his brother Andrew, and Response Marine owner Jim Ryan – made its official maiden voyage between Long Wharf in Sag Harbor and Mitchell Park in Greenport on June 28. The launch followed a contentious debate about the impact the ferry would have on the quality of life of both Sag Harbor residents and businesses, fears of a demand for parking and an increase in traffic dominating the discussion.

Ultimately, with the exception of former village board member Tim Culver, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees signed off on the temporary use of Long Wharf for the service and passed a local law allowing passenger ferry service, which like vehicular ferries is illegal in Sag Harbor, for one summer season.

For the Lynch brothers and Ryan, this opportunity was viewed not only as a business venture, but also as an opportunity to study a new form of transportation on the East End – water based transportation in a region historically and recreationally celebrated because of its access to the water.

The ferry service, which ran on a single leased catamaran with 53 seats below deck and an additional 20 seats on the top deck, ran for approximately 85 days, ending on September 30.

According to Lynch, during that time, the ferry service carried 16,650 passengers, starting with just 212 at the end of June, growing to 5,404 passengers in July and peaking at 7,402 passengers in August before serving 3,632 passengers in September.

Lynch said that averaged to about 195 passengers a day, not the 250 to 300 passengers daily the company had hoped for, but “pretty good,” said Lynch. “And it certainly opens the door in terms of potential, but what the service needs is someone who has the financial resources to handle the start up costs for the appropriate vessel and can handle a loss over multiple seasons before the service is reliable enough for people to use on a regular basis.”

“We grossed about $160,000 in revenue,” said Lynch. “We spent a heck of a lot more than that.”

Financially, the 2012 operating costs were close to $500,000. According to figures provided by Lynch, the vessel lease of the John Keith from the New York Water Taxi Service cost the company $110,000, with insurance coming in at $41,000. Staff wages cost $86,000, with vessel fuel costs – admittedly higher than Lynch originally expected – at $91,000. The creation of a shuttle service for passengers cost the company $74,000 and docking fees in Sag Harbor and Greenport were a total of $24,000.

The ferry employed a total of 15 people during its service, including four United States Coast Guard licensed captains who operated the John Keith, six deckhands, two shuttle bus drivers, two call center customer care representatives and one person in charge of administration and accounting.

Lynch said the firm also utilized local contractors for fuel, mechanics, parts supplies, dock building, welding and print and radio advertising.

“Anecdotally, I would say the service was a huge hit,” said Lynch. “I heard very little negative feedback from customers, municipal agencies. I think we had one sailboater in the harbor who didn’t like the boat. Financially, it was certainly a bust for the Peconic Jitney and for myself and my brother who were funding this thing. Given that, we don’t have any immediate plans to go forward with the service for 2013.”

Lynch said this season was a learning experience, similar to what any new business venture would go through. He said one vessel proved not to be enough in order to keep the frequency of trips in line with demand and keep crowds at a minimum at docking sites.

In terms of the long-term goal of expanding the passenger ferry service to other waterfront ports on the East End, Lynch said another, larger vessel would be required to comfortably traverse the water.

Lynch said, based on credit card receipts, it did appear the service was favored locally – locals making up a majority of riders rather than just day trippers and tourists.

“So the appetite for this from a local perspective is there and the potential for tourists and other day trippers,” he said. “There was a much broader market out there and I am hopeful we can continue, but we cannot do it on our own.”

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, who praised the service and pushed for the temporary permit to allow it to run in the summer of 2012, if the Peconic Bay Water Jitney does come back to the village with a 2013 proposal, it will have to start from scratch in terms of earning approval to run the service, and run it from Long Wharf – newly acquired by the Village of Sag Harbor through a deal with Suffolk County.