The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday adopted a resolution to purchase a parcel on Ferry Road in Sag Harbor that many in the village have hoped for over a decade would eventually become a waterfront park. With the $10.5 million Community Preservation Fund (CPF) purchase, it appears the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park will be a reality.
Sag Harbor Village Mayor Sandra Schroeder and the remainder of the village trustees deserve a lot of credit for working through several obstacles, including litigation, to fight for the preservation of this property. Other village leaders, and groups like Save Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Partnership, worked with the trustees to make this an initiatives that seemingly everyone was ready to back. And for good reason since it is highly unlikely there will be another opportunity to develop a waterfront park in Sag Harbor.
Landscape architect Edmund Hollander graciously donated his time to develop initial plans for the park, and they are lovely. That said, given this opportunity, it is critical residents of Sag Harbor have the opportunity to weigh in on the park’s design and the amenities it will include. As village trustee Jim Larocca pointed out, there will be more ideas “than could fill Central Park,” but given this monumental moment in the development of public space, those ideas should be heard before final plans are presented to the public.
When the John Jermain Memorial Library renewed efforts to expand and restore its historic Main Street building, it brought community members together for several public meetings before coming up with a conceptual plan for a new library that stayed true to its roots. It was a great model for how to plan a public project, and as a result the library board found itself surrounded by support, financial and otherwise, which we believe was a result of that inclusive philosophy.
It is unlikely Sag Harbor Village will have an opportunity to create such an important public space for many years to come. By giving residents a chance to be involved in the process, village officials and their constituents can create a plan the entire community will rally around, and celebrate, for years to come.