Better With Than Without
To the Editor:
It takes enterprise and partnership to re-build a cultural destination, even more so after a horrible fire. We are not doing this because it’s easy. We are doing it because we don’t want to imagine Main Street without that building. Without that sign. Without a place to gather together, year-round, to watch the best films in the world. A place that existed for nearly a century before the tragic event of December 16,2016.
Our cinema has been at the center of Main Street since 1936, and has only been gone for 6 months, but that’s 6 months too long. We know from talking to the Chamber of Commerce that business has been down 10% since the devastating fire last December. The hole in the middle of Main St. is a painful reminder of all we have lost. Of course, something else could take its place. A mall. A national chain. But we jumped at the chance to rebuild, because the Cinema is a piece of our heart and history, an essential part of our identity that would be lost forever if a commercial enterprise took its place. It’s so much more than the red neon sign that bears our village’s name. It is a year-round destination that should continue to entertain and inspire generations to come. And before and after the shows, there’s the allure of our wonderful stores and restaurants, the unique magic of Sag Harbor.
Some people have expressed concern that restoring the cinema will increase parking woes, exacerbate septic problems, or impact the funding for other local arts institutions. But the plan is to restore a pre-existing use of the building, a use that the infrastructure of Sag Harbor has always been able to accommodate.
With respect to fundraising, this campaign is a one-time effort to acquire and rebuild. The ongoing funding needs will be a fraction of this figure, and will likely attract a whole new set of donors who value film preservation, new and independent films and cinema as its own unique art form.
Raising millions of dollars is a big job, but it is a job that scores of volunteers have taken on so our village can rebuild. The campaign has received enthusiastic support from a wide range of people. Many live here year-round, and have done so for generations. Some are well known and others prefer to be anonymous. We have had donations from one dollar to one million dollars and everything in between. We are grateful for all of them. A couple who had their first date at the theater in the 1950s contributed, and, deeply meaningful to us, so did the Pierson Class of 2017. The belief we all share is that the village of Sag Harbor is a far better place with our cinema than without it.
We thank all who have joined us in this considerable effort and the many others who are soon to follow. To paraphrase a great movie about a dream, “If you re-build it, they will come,” and our village will be richer than ever — because in Sag Harbor, business and culture have always supported each other.
President, Sag Harbor Partnership
Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center Executive Committee
Co-founder, Bay Street Theatre
Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center Executive Committee
If located on Main Street, the cinema arts center will add tremendous demands to our already woeful parking issues. Relocated off Main, perhaps in a new community arts center, the interconnected goals of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, Bay Street Theater and the Village can be achieved.
Working together, the SHCAC and Bay Street families, full of extraordinary talent, impressive financial access and vast experience, could deliver transformative results.
And, partnering to build an advantageously situated, privately funded stage and film center would be a true community project, like a barn raising or building a church.
But, if the Main Street location is successfully prosecuted, all parties lose. SHCAC has no parking. Retailers and restaurants must face more loss of business, and residents have even less chance of finding a parking spot.
We will squander a last, best chance for a parking solution, a permanent home for Bay Street and a film center with parking for its hundreds of guests.
The stars are aligned. We don’t want our cultural institutions to cannibalize their donor bases or our parking to worsen. But, If we agree the most pressing issue for the Village is parking, if we concur that BST is part of our DNA and if we would embrace the Cinema Arts — and I emphatically do — let’s think big. A community arts center in a reimagined parking lot, the best part of which is that it is “free;” between CPF funds and a combined fund-raising juggernaut it wouldn’t cost the Village!
I hope we seize this moment and truly partner for the best possible outcome.
The American Hotel
As a concerned woman living within the outskirts of Sag Harbor I have a real concern about LEGS.
Personally I do not care for them, but have adjusted to the fact that they are there and I must live with that. However, today I drove past and I am appalled at what I see now. Apparently, someone thought it would be a good idea to show red paint dripping from in between the legs. This is a mockery to the women and young girls who monthly go through a menstrual cycle. Think of the young ladies walking to school past such a sight; this is not the way to instill self esteem.
I am now embarrassed to have anyone who visits me (or this town for that matter) to be subjected to such a sight. I wonder what type of mind-set the person who did this has. Scary to say the least.
I find this quite offensive to women of all ages. This is embarrassing, disturbing, disgusting, sick and a total disregard for the community in which they are now on display.
Please print this in your column so others know exactly what is happening in our town.
Time for Plan B at Airport
As July 4th weekend nears, so too do the fears of residents from NYC to East Hampton that, this year, the commuter aviation scourge will be worse than ever. Commuter air taxi operators have already begun sharing the pain, broadening transition paths from the FAA-designated North Shore Route over a much wider East End area. While some residents will be disrupted less frequently by flights overhead, residents in other areas will be impacted more than ever before. North Sea, Noyac, North Haven, Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack are among those most impacted by this low altitude toxic barrage. Spreading noise and dispersing toxic particulate matter from aviation emissions over a wider area is no solution to a problem decades in the making. Even if the Supreme Court of the United States does agree later this year to hear the Town of East Hampton’s case to regain local control of its airport, and the Court does rule to allow the Town to regain local control, a return to peaceful skies and improved quality of life will not be assured.
In 2016, when two curfews and one restriction against the noisiest aircraft were in effect at KHTO, East Hampton Airport, there were 25,836 flight operations, about 60% crammed into the 90-day summer season. That’s an average of more than 170 toxic flights each day! Overnight curfews did enable us to sleep peacefully for the first time in a decade, but during the hours the airport was open, air traffic was intense, with all activity pressed into the shorter timeframe. Helicopters and commuters spewed fuel emissions into our skies, over waterways and farm fields, while loitering over the East End, awaiting 7 a.m. when the overnight curfew was lifted.
Similar scenes occurred in the air and on the tarmac before KHTO’s evening curfew went into effect. Like many other East End residents, after decades of complaints and supporting East Hampton Town in its protracted legal battles, I am no longer willing to give up my quality of life for the selfish travel convenience of a few.
Thousands of Long Islanders are impacted by the three air commuter routes: South Shore, North and above the LIRR tracks — and most reside in towns other than East Hampton. That’s just not right! File noise complaints (airnoisereports.com) and write to your elected representatives and ask them to tell East Hampton Town it’s time for Plan B: close the airport as soon as FAA grant assurances expire in 2021 or, better still, close it earlier.
We’ve had enough.
Fran and I would like to thank our children, grandchildren, extended families and friends for helping us celebrate our 60th anniversary with prayers, good wishes and gifts. A special thank you to Aidan and Sharon Wood and family for supplying all the red and white roses for the occasion. A heartfelt thanks to you all.
Fran and Ann Schiavoni