A Conversation With Ken O’Donnell

Ken O’Donnell

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village trustee talks about the status of waterfront public works projects, parking and the vexing issue of snow removal.

It is our understanding that “B Dock” (one of several village public docking facilities, which is located on West Water Street) will be replaced soon. When do you expect it to be done and will it increase the number of slips available for village residents?

This has been a two-year process. We were originally hoping to get the new dock in place by the 2017 season, but it should all be done by April 15 for the upcoming season. The work is being done by Costello Marine. They are assembling the pieces at their facility in Greenport. Once the decking is secured, and the marine pedestals, which provide the electricity and water supply, are installed, they’ll float them down to Sag Harbor. The new deck will be made of purple heart and is expected to have a 40-year lifespan. The new dock will have fewer pilings, so it will be able to accommodate some bigger boats at the end, and we’ve also created some more smaller slips at the other end. In the end, it will be five additional slips. That additional revenue will help pay for the $712,000 cost of the project.

As the village moves forward with plans to renovate Long Wharf, Trustee Aidan Corish has proposed adding a public deck at the end to allow residents to continue enjoying the view. Do you think that will assuage concerns that plans to put in additional moorings for large yachts would rob the village of one of its loveliest views?

I think Aidan’s proposal is a great idea. A big part of the plans is to add a pedestrian walkway around the perimeter to get people out of the street. I think a deck would actually draw people down to the waterfront and allow someplace for them to congregate. But remember, a big draw for people is to go look at the yachts that are in the harbor during what is really an eight-to-12-week season. It is going to be both a draw and an attraction to residents, but residents will get the additional benefit of a revenue stream.

Is the village considering any changes to its mooring/docking rules for the coming boating season?

When we gained jurisdiction beyond the breakwater, we felt it would better to take the 2017 boating season and see what regulations might be needed instead of over-legislating. The Harbor Committee has given some recommendations and Bob Bori, our harbormaster, has been observing what has been going on. One thing we are definitely going to try to address is seaplanes. It was like the wild west out there.

The village board recently held a work session at which the issue of maximizing parking was discussed. Which suggestions do you think have the best chance of seeing the light of day?

First, thanks to Trustee James LaRocca, who was able to talk to National Grid, so that we now have a five-year lease on the gas ball lot. What we are going to do is take it from three-day parking and make it 24 hours. That should make the lot start to turn over and make spaces available. One thing that might work is making West Water Street one ways. That means cars that are now parallel parked can be parked diagonally. That would free up spaces for Baron’s Cove, the Sag Harbor Inn and people who have their boats down there. As far as short-term spaces on Main Street, we are going to have to look into that. The board approved the hiring of a parking and traffic consultant back in the fall, and we have to move on that.

While it is nice to think about spring, it’s still January — and that means we will likely get more snow. What can be done to make sure people clear their sidewalks?

The code is the code. It’s been four and a half years of warning that we are going to fine people. It’s not only a quality of life issue, it’s a safety issue. Part of the problem is that as Sag Harbor becomes more and more a village of second homeowners, those residents aren’t really looking to winter here. They’ve fled to some other warm place. But I’m more interested in being proactive about snowplowing than reactive when someone gets hit by a car because they couldn’t walk on the sidewalks.