Bay Street Rebuffed by Village Board on New Gala Date

Celebrities, including Guest Auctioneer Richard Kind, at left, had their photos taken by the members of the press at the entrance to the big tent at Bay Street Theater's 25th Anniversary Gala.
Celebrities had their photos taken by the members of the press at Bay Street Theater’s gala last summer. Michael Heller photo

By Kathryn G. Menu

Despite letters of support from over half a dozen Sag Harbor Village business owners, the village board this week denied a request by Bay Street Theater to move the date of its gala from July 15 to July 8, citing concerns about parking during what is expected to be a busy holiday week.

On Tuesday, Mayor Sandra Schroeder joined Trustees Edward Deyermond and Ken O’Donnell in denying the request, which Bay Street Theater executive director Tracy Mitchell said was made after the non-profit arts organization learned the Parrish Art Museum had set its gala date for the same weekend. Trustees Jim Larocca and Robby Stein were not at the meeting.

Last month, the board approved Bay Street’s request to use Long Wharf for its gala on July 15. The Sag Harbor Partnership also received permission to hold its second annual benefit on July 16 in Bay Street’s tent. Last year’s event raised over $100,000, which the partnership earmarked for the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, which the village wants to develop next to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.

After the vote to deny, Ms. Mitchell urged the board to reconsider. She said the organization scheduled its event over six months ago, specifically working around the existing date for the Parrish Art Museum’s own summer fundraiser. After the Parrish moved its fundraiser to July 15, Ms. Mitchell said the board of trustees agreed it was imperative to move the gala back to accommodate patrons of the arts who support both organizations.

“It’s a huge potential financial matter for us, and the date of July 8 has been a normal date for years now,” she said. The gala raises about 15 percent of Bay Street’s operating budget, or $500,000. Due to its Mainstage season schedule, and events already slated for the summer season, July 8 and July 15 are the only two dates the theater can host the event, said Ms. Mitchell in an interview on Wednesday.

“We were happy with the date of the 15th because it was an off weekend from the holiday,” said Mr. Deyermond. Mr. O’Donnell, the owner of La Superica, said because July 4 will fall on a Tuesday this year, it is likely July 8 will bring holiday weekend crowds to the village. He noted the tent shuts down parking on Long Wharf Thursday through Monday.

“You’re asking to take 88 parking spots at the end of the equation so that Alec Baldwin can sit down there and drink his scotch,” he said.

“There may be a financial impact to you guys, but there is also a financial impact to the businesses,” said Mr. Deyermond.

However, a handful of businesses said in letters of support to the board that they supported the requested date change.

“I see no reason to oppose Bay Street from conducting their annual event in July—it adds some classy festivity to the village,” said Lynda Sylvester of Sylvester & Co.

“As village restaurateurs, we see no reason that the board should oppose the date of the Bay Street Theatre gala being held on July 8th. They are great neighbors and provide significant year-round customers to the village,” wrote Stacy Sheehan and Elizabeth Barnes of Dockside Bar & Grill.

“As an owner of a restaurant on Bay Street, I’m aware that the theater plays an important role in bringing people to the village all winter long,” wrote Larry Baum and Maurizo Marfoglia, owners of Dopo la Spiaggia. “As such, and as we wish for them to prosper,  we see no reason that the board should oppose the date of their gala being held on July 8th versus any other Saturday night in July. In fact, I am not sure why there would be any opposition to changing the date. The Bay Street Theater is such a wonderful family oriented organization that brings so much to our community. Anything that helps them to prosper should be helped by our local community boards. Please do your best to help them as best you can to make sure this wonderful gala goes off without a hitch.”

“As a business woman on Main Street for the last 41 years, I can attest to the enormous cultural, literary, social, educational and financial value Bay Street Theater has brought to the entire business and surrounding residential areas,” said Romany Kramoris of the Kramoris Gallery on Main Street. “I see no reason to deny July 8 as the date for their annual gala.”

Adornments owner Joseph Maio, Amber Tagliasacchi, the manager and partner of Il Capuccino, and Baron’s Cove hotel and restaurant manager Dot Capuano also voiced their support for the date change.

Ms. Mitchell added that Bay Street Theater tries to be active in helping the Sag Harbor community whenever it can. It recently held a fundraiser that collected over $15,000 for the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps following the December 16 fire that caused extensive damage to the Sag Harbor Cinema and adjoining buildings. It also hosted a fundraiser for middle school students recently, collecting $2,000 to offset the cost of a class trip.

“And the money we do raise is spent here — there is a very small percentage that goes to actors in New York City,” she said. “We spend at the restaurants, the hardware stores, we rent 15 houses locally, we stay at the inns … if you talk to anyone who knows me well, we try and do the right thing, so I hope you will consider that.”

In other village news, Mr. Deyermond announced next month he may ask the board to deny all music permits and outdoor seating permits for restaurants, citing compliance issues with the zoning code and other planning issues, including overcrowding and spaces that don’t meet state fire and building codes.

On Wednesday, Mr. Deyermond said if more restaurants came into compliance and worked with building inspector Thomas Preiato, he would not push forward with that initiative.

On Wednesday, February 22, the village board will hold its first public meeting on the 2017-18 budget. The meeting will be held in the second floor meeting room in the Municipal Building. The second budget workshop will be on March 22, with a presentation on the tentative budget expected on March 29.

The board also appointed Susan Mead, an attorney and long-time member of the Sag Harbor Partnership and Save Sag Harbor, as an alternate member of the village’s zoning board of appeals.