Feeling a sense of relief at the end of August is not a new or uncommon feeling for the year-round population on the South Fork, even the many who could not sustain their businesses — or their households — without that influx of intense tourism during the months of July and August.
The reality is we need the second homeowner and tourism economy for myriad reasons and many, including those who have departed for more affordable shores, would not have had a means to retire without the steep jump in property values over the last 20 years. At the same time, especially when it comes to housing, it is clear we live in an unsustainable place — businesses begin scrambling for help by the third week of August when college students return to school, rental prices are equivalent to what one could expect out of a mortgage in many cases, and the commute from points west becomes more grueling with each passing summer season.
Sag Harbor Village, for a long time, seemed somewhat shielded — especially in its largely owner-operated downtown — until over a decade ago when seemingly all prospective eyes turned to the quaint, tight-knit village.
Despite that, and despite tremendous change on Main and Bay streets this year, Sag Harbor is not all lost, as some online commenters would have you believe. It is evidenced in the concert goers who flock, beach chairs in hand, to watch the community band perform Tuesday nights and those who line up for pancake breakfasts at the fire house. On Monday night, to a packed house, revelers sang Don McLean’s “American Pie” at the top of their lungs at The Corner Bar — a 40-year tradition that felt more important than ever this year. And this weekend, many of us will be down on Long Wharf and Windmill Beach, eating hot dogs cooked by Boy Scouts while whaleboats race towards a whale.
Cheers, Sag Harbor. And Whale Ho! It’s not over yet.