Sag Harbor Impound Yard Is Another Slow-Moving Project

A new impound yard for vehicles and objects obtained by the police was approved by the Sag Harbor Village Board on Aug. 8, but while initial steps were taken, the difficulty of getting projects underway, like those for Long Wharf and a waterfront park named for John Steinbeck, may not bode well for how long this one will take.

After the motion to accept a proposal for an impound yard to accommodate 10 to 20 vehicles was approved, Ken O’Donnell, one of the trustees, said, “it will obviously wind up being a revenue stream for the village, but it will help keep our roads safe, and keep people from driving away after they’ve been pulled over with suspended licenses or vehicles that are not inspected.”  

The proposal came from Savik and Murray, an engineering firm, which suggested the impound area’s design, a new entrance from the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, and fencing. The site is the old dump, which Sag Harbor Village owns, though a portion is leased to Southampton Town for a weigh station.

After the meeting, Dee Yardley, the village’s superintendent of public works, said on the phone that this was not the first time the village has tried to propose an impound yard. “They tried in 1995, but it never came to fruition,” Mr. Yardley said. “But myself and the police chief have been discussing it.” Now some impounded vehicles go to the Highway Department facility on Columbia Street.  Mr. Yardley noted that many steps were needed before a new yard was a reality. “I’m hoping for spring if they get the engineering done,” he said. “That would be the best-case scenario.”

The new yard will cost between $75,000 and $100,000, Mr. Yardley said, and it comes at a time when other projects are moving slowly. Mayor Sandra Schroeder has said the board had “determined that it’s absolutely necessary to do.”

For months the village has been trying to acquire approximately 1.25 acres of the waterfront property that Greystone Development is planning to use for condominiums. The village is hoping to transform the property into the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park.

Sag Harbor is hoping to receive Southampton Town community preservation fund money for the purchase, but Ms. Schroeder explained over the phone last week that the standstill is due to disagreements about the price between Southampton Town and Greystone.

“We’re hoping that the town and the owners come to an agreement on a price,” she said.

“There was some confusion when they did the first appraisal of the property because they thought units needed to be transferred,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “So now we have gotten Southampton Town all of the information and zoning codes and we’re just waiting for them to request the two new appraisals for 1, 3, 5 Ferry Road.”

He said the waiting had been frustrating, particularly for residents who have paid over $18 million into the C.P.F. fund. Sag Harbor has so far received about $1.5 million from the fund for other projects. Mr. O’Donnell is hoping the C.P.F. money will be obtained for the park. “What would be interesting would be to know how many open parcels are left in the village. . . . I would say it might be a handful. I just think if this doesn’t go through it will be a lost opportunity.”

Another project slow to start is the Long Wharf Project, which will now begin sometime in 2018, Mr. O’Donnell said. While the village hoped to start on changes at Long Wharf immediately after this fall’s Harborfest, it is waiting for a grant or funding that would not be awarded until Dec. 31. The county and state require that the village contribute to the cost of such projects, but any money the village would have spent between September and Dec. 31 would not have gone toward the grants this year. “We’re better off waiting to see if we are awarded the grant,” Mr. O’Donnell said.

In addition to the grant situation, it also made sense for the project to be put on hold because of expected dredging in the harbor, which is scheduled to begin sometime between September and October. Once the dredging is completed, there will be additional yacht space on the Wharf.