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Sag Harbor Village Mulls Paid Parking

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 12:22

App-based system for primo downtown spots

Seeking to address the chronic lack of parking in Sag Harbor Village during the summer, the village board is considering charging for spots on Main Street and in the Long Wharf lot and creating a designated lot for residents, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy announced at a work session last week.     

“As we all know, parking 100 days of the year in Sag Harbor is horrible, and for 265 days a year it’s not as bad,” said Ms. Mulcahy. When throngs of visitors arrive in the summer, she said, “Many residents say, ‘It’s not fair, there’s nowhere for us to park.’ ”     

The board is exploring introducing a primarily app-based system that would allow people to pay for a spot in the village’s “premium” areas, Main Street and Long Wharf, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. A few kiosks would also be available for those without a smartphone, but otherwise the village intends to “minimize the infrastructure on the street,” said Aidan Corish, a trustee.     

During that time, the lot behind the Apple Bank on Main Street would be made available solely to residents, who would be given stickers to display on their cars.     

The revenue collected from parking fees, said Ms. Mulcahy, would be used to create new sidewalks and bike lanes to make the village more pedestrian friendly and less car-oriented.       

Village officials have met with companies that install such systems, she said, but the proposal is still at the discussion stage. Many details, including how much the village would charge for parking, have yet to be decided. “We just want to have the conversation,” she said.   

The lack of parking is so dire, said Ms. Mulcahy, that the village board has also been compelled to take a fresh look at zoning regulations. The village requires new restaurants and other businesses to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces. “There is no more parking to create in the village,” she said, so there’s no way for new businesses to provide the parking required. “That’s going to become a problem,” she said.     

The board also discussed a proposal from Verizon to install a 150-foot cellphone tower at the village’s vehicle impound lot, as well as a wireless facility within the cupola of the Municipal Building on Main Street.     

Verizon would pay the village $26,400 annually for the space at the impound lot, and $12,000 annually for the use of the cupola, and the rent would increase by 2 percent each year for the next 20 years. The latter money would be earmarked for renovations to the municipal building, and the former for environmental initiatives such as water quality improvement and aquifer protection.     

According to Verizon, coverage in the village ranges from “acceptable to non-existent” and near the impound lot it is “acceptable to marginal,” said Ms. Mul­cahy.     

Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin McGuire said the village’s emergency services would be eager to have improved cell service so they can better respond to 911 calls and more effectively use GPS systems.     

The impound lot is on village-owned land off the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike and adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt, an ecosystem of coastal plain ponds. When it was proposed in 2018, it was vehemently opposed by environmental groups, which said the health of the greenbelt would be negatively impacted by development there.     Verizon has provided simulations of what the tower would look like at the site, said Ms. Mulcahy, and “the only place it would be very very obvious would be walking around Long Pond.”     

Dai Dayton, the president of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt advocacy group, told the board that her organization is against the tower and further development of the area. “This parcel is, in fact, a part of the greenbelt and should be accorded special attention regarding the protection of undisturbed areas,” she said.       

Thomas Gardella, the deputy mayor, said the village would work with Ms. Dayton’s group to identify an area of the property that could be used for the tower without disturbing the nearby wetlands.     

A representative of Verizon will pre­sent the proposal at a future board meeting, said Ms. Mulcahy.     Lastly, the board discussed whether to grant Peconic Jitney, a company seeking to provide seasonal ferry service directly between Sag Harbor and Greenport, permission to dock at Long Wharf.     

Long Wharf is undergoing a $4.3 million renovation and is scheduled to reopen in May. When it is finished, there will be an 8.5-foot-wide boardwalk around the perimeter, and it will have a  40-foot-wide area at its northern end that will offer a panoramic view of Sag Harbor Bay.     

“I love the idea of the ferry, but I don’t think Long Wharf as it is being reimagined is an appropriate place,” said Mr. Corish. The crowds of people waiting to get on the ferry, and the noise and the litter they create, would impede residents from being able to enjoy the new space, he said.     

Mr. Gardella was more optimistic that the ferry and its riders could be accommodated without causing a nuisance, and Ms. Mulcahy noted that its passengers could provide an economic boon to the village’s shops and restaurants.     

Having the ferry dock elsewhere, such as at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club, would be a possibility, she said, but Long Wharf provides direct access to Main Street. “Relocating it to the yacht club would not be as welcoming,” she said.     The board will wait to get a more detailed proposal from Jim Ryan, a manager at Peconic Jitney, before making a decision, said Ms. Mulcahy. 

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