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Plans Aplenty in the Harbor

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 12:27

The Sag Harbor Village Board discussed the current state of the village and its plans to address water quality, parking, and the development of the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park at its first weekend work session on Saturday.

Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy began the meeting by sharing a recent report from the Long Island Visitors Bureau, which said the village was among the Island’s top five destinations for tourists. “I’m really proud of ourselves,” she said.

Village revenues from dock fees and parking tickets are up by 30 percent from last year, and justice court revenues have also increased. “We know people are coming because they’re getting in trouble,” said Mayor Mulcahy.

The village’s Chamber of Commerce has said its businesses have had a good year thus far, she reported, and even real estate sales in the village have been strong.

Thomas Gardella, a village board member, provided an update on emergency services. The ambulance corps has 28 members, 17 fewer than its capacity, he said, and has been responding to about 750 calls over the past five years. The fire department has 152 members, 3 fewer than capacity, and has received about 600 calls per year.

“The added visitors that come to the village put a burden on them to respond,” he said. He recommended the board find money in the budget to improve the firehouse, which needs to have its heating system upgraded, and the ambulance building, which needs renovating. The existing garage for ambulances cannot accommodate regulation vehicles, so the ones used in the village have to be specially made, said Mr. Gardella.

James Larocca said that Ed Hollander, the landscape designer who did the conceptual drawings for John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, has been appointed as head of a committee to oversee its development. The committee’s marching orders, he said, were “do nothing to diminish the vistas.” The village will be pursuing grants and other funding to build and maintain the park, he said, and it would be open shortly after next Labor Day. He also noted that the renovation and redesign of Long Wharf, which began last month, is going well.

Robert Plumb said the village planned to ask for more detailed applications from residents seeking building permits and variances from the zoning board of appeals.

As for the village’s plans to increase and manage parking spaces, Aidan Corish said Mayor Mulcahy was talking to other East End municipalities about jointly developing an app that would identify available spots, and include a way to charge for parking. He also said that the village would encourage visitors to use underutilized parking spaces. People are willing to walk from Long Wharf to Main Street, he said, but for some reason they’re unwilling to walk the same distance from the opposite end of the village.

A sewage district master plan is being developed, Mr. Corish said, and that will be a first step in deciding how to expand access to the village’s sewage treatment plant, which currently serves the commercial district. The plan will identify the homes or businesses whose septic systems are the biggest polluters, and those whose septic systems are nearest to the shore.

In terms of longer-term planning, Mayor Mulcahy said the village would focus on three broad areas: the environment, transportation, and community.

The village would likely introduce laws limiting the use of leaf blowers and pesticides, she said. Bay Street will be repaved with a pervious surface that allows stormwater to be captured and filtered. And at Havens Beach, a faulty filtration system within a stormwater drainage pipe there will be replaced this winter, she said.

The village’s focus on transportation would include a focus on making the village more walkable and bike-able, and to increase parking. “Change is slow, but change is coming,” the mayor said.

Creating more affordable, work force, and senior citizens housing near the village will be a key element of the board’s plans to improve the community, she said.

In other business, the board introduced a law that would limit the amount of clear-cutting of vegetation on a vacant lot, and one that would modify the definition of “height of structure or building,” to provide a more accurate method of determining maximum height.

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