Letters to the Editor: 8/17/17


Safer for Students?

Dear Editor,

With regard to the removal of parking on certain parts of Division Street, it was noted in the article in the Express that proponents of this idea cite safety of walkers — mainly children walking to and from school — as the main motivation for banning parking. In fact, removing parked cars from the streets will actually make the streets less safe for walkers.

When parked cars are removed from the sides of our roads the “friction” that slows traffic on those streets is also removed, exacerbating the speeding problem that has become an epidemic in the Village. Drivers perceive an empty street as a “safe” place to go faster. Parked cars create a sense of potential danger, as you never know when a door will open, a person will walk out from between the cars, or a car will pull out from its parking spot. Parked cars also narrow the roadway. All this causes drivers to be a bit more cautious.

The appropriate response to concerns about pedestrian safety must be to build more sidewalks, bump-outs at corners (shortening crossing distances), pedestrian refuge islands in the middle of busy roadways, raised crosswalks, etc. Removing parking so that children can walk more “safely” in the roadway is not going to make them safe, it just puts them at greater risk from speeding cars.

And why, may I ask, are we forcing our children to walk in Sag Harbor’s busy roadways in the first place?


Eric C. Cohen

Sag Harbor


Theme Park for Tourists?

Dear Editor,

As Sag Harbor is being reimagined by new market demographics, erratic business patterns and the influx of uber-affluent part-time residents, it has become impossible to forecast. Experience and tenure are no longer very helpful. But, if we are to be politically, or socially, pro-active, a mid-year review might be useful as we strategize how to promote, preserve or adapt our Sag Harbor.

To date, this has been a bizarre, discouraging business year for most. The winter was dreary, the spring impossibly cold and wet, and the summer without many beach days. Traffic, early on, was as bad as ever, with disillusioning parking challenges; as the season has progressed, busy and congested weekends have paired with surprisingly quiet weekdays.

Summer house rentals and hotel bookings have followed a different pattern, too. Instead of summer – or monthly – rentals and a few guests our hostelries could handle; it seems AirBnB has smashed the paradigm. Our visitor demographic is no longer the ‘family out for summer-season,’ but, rather, Friday and Saturday millennials ready to party. The visitors are younger, more numerous, tend to party and spend time at home, and, most germane to the traditional East End, they are less involved with the community. Also, the seasonal (weekend) population fluctuations are extreme because of AirBnB: our transient inventory has probably tripled in the last year or two. And, then, the parade of day-trippers continues to grow, increasing congestion and traffic.

In this new world there is a commensurate, yet decidedly seasonal, demand for high-volume, lower priced goods and services. A result is that old, stand-by businesses, ones that operate all- or most of the year, are under siege. As we are losing the old ‘summer colony’ to a more weekend-centric, party-oriented group, we have more people spend less money on basics. At the end of the day if our basic businesses (and villages) don’t adapt and earn the nest egg that enables them to survive the winter it will be, for the lifers, a bleak landscape indeed. Could it be that the pop-up stores introduced in East Hampton a few years ago was a harbinger of an unthinkable future — pop-up villages!

Perhaps pop-up villages, shuttered in winter and reliant on touristic pollution in summer, is our future. But if we prioritize the year-round Main Street, we need to start being selective. People, especially older and more affluent people who less tolerate inconvenience, need to be able to park their cars close to where they want to go. The answer is either an elevated parking lot — an expensive and inadequate solution — or priced-parking (kiosk, meters or electronic) that will reduce traffic, pollution, make goods and services cheaper by stimulating turnover, graduate the use of long- and short-term parking, raise money for the Village, and, just maybe, help us save Main Street as we know it. A raised parking garage is politically problematic, of course, but a big decision is required. The alternative, priced parking is a better and more effective answer; for naysayers, the entitlement of free parking can be defended only at the expense of the Main Street we have enjoyed for many years.

Overlaid these mundane considerations is that Sag Harbor is experiencing the reach of “global capital down to the neighborhood scale” (to cite a phrase from the book “How Gentrification Works.”). Businesses now open with massive investment that will never be justified in normal terms of profit and loss. Extreme home prices in the Village displace local families with people who live elsewhere; that is causing school populations to drop. Sag Harbor isn’t evolving as much as being buffeted by unpredictable, unique forces.

I don’t want Sag Harbor to become just another over-priced summer town, but one that effectively supports the core group of enterprises that serve the community all-year. Part of that charge is to control seasonal activity, to the extent we can, so the core can be financially healthy enough to sustain itself.

A theme park for tourists we don’t want.

Ted Conklin

Sag Harbor


A NAFTA for North America

Dear Sag Harbor Express,

President Trump promised to be the “greatest jobs producing president in history.” With NAFTA negotiations starting August 16, it’s time he puts his money where his mouth is.

In the years since the treaty first was signed into law, jobs and wages in our communities took a hit. NAFTA killed approximately 700,000 jobs nationwide, and also made it easier for corporations to offshore. A new trade plan should push corporations to foster good, family-sustaining workplaces and higher pay for working people across North America.

As trade representatives and Congressional leaders come together to rework this treaty, we can’t hold our breath and hope for the best. We know what life has looked like living under NAFTA for nearly 25 years. A revised NAFTA must provide working families the freedom and opportunity to build better futures for themselves and our region. Anything less is a deal not worth taking.

Suzanne Kirby
Sag Harbor


True Parody

Bryan and Kathryn,

Series of “Tweets” re: Charlottesville Trump never sent:

“Bad Dudes. Sickos beating on clergy.”

“White Supremacist losers climb back under rock. Sad.”

“Domestic Terrorist Hater running his car into crowd. Murderer.”

“Bad, Sick Dude. Send him to Guantanamo.”

Julie Penny



An Ode to Dodge City East

To the Editor,

I’m looking for Dodge City East…

Where did it go? I know it used to be here for that I am sure. Let’s take a stroll down the Main Street …”Why there’s Spitz Appliance and Christy’s Liquor Store, Bohacks and Mr. and Mrs. Yocks tailor shop. I need to take my stingray bike to Youngs Bike Shop, just up the street. How about a matinee movie? See if Wayne’s mom will let us in for free. Let’s stop at Harbor House to catch up on the local gossip. How about a cold one at the Black Buoy? See Sonya, “smell ya!” Oh wait, she’s opening the Sandbar at the same time!! Hmm, wonder where that black book is? I’ll stop by Barry’s Hardware see Denny and Larry to get a laugh, then to the Ideal, to get some baseball cards. Hope for a Mantle one!! Why there’s Wilky and Leon! “Hey boys, how r ya”? No response. Here comes the Chief of Police, the old Irishman picking his nails in front of the firehouse. No, he is not there either. Maybe he is getting meatball from Mrs. Alipo? Maybe I’ll sit on the bank wall till Sarge tells me to hit the road. Here comes Cappy on his bike with a pool stick in the basket, looking for a sucker to take him on at a game. Maybe a root beer float at Races Pharmacy sounds good to me. I’ll drop my duds off at Whalers Cleaners and say “Hi” to Stan and Jane, get a pair of Converse at Ivan’s shoe store. Wow, the fire whistle just blew or its noon time. Well, no one is coming from Bulova or Grumman but I do see a bunch flying out of Joe and Sal’s. Must be a fire. Somebody must know where Dodge City, went? Ah, the Corner Bar…man, after this stroll I need a beer. I’m sure Jim can ease my mind…but he is gone too! Maybe he is walking that ole Main Street or up at Rum Hill or sailing by the fort. For what a sailor he was! Sail on, old friend. Say ‘Hello” to all the others for us. We will miss you.

Every time we lose a local we all feel it…although I no longer live there, my heart will always be a Whaler!

Whale Ho,

Bill Beyer

Former long-time Sag Harbor Resident


Receiver of Consciousness
To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading Dr. Richard Gambino’s article on the Brain.  The most important point made was that “none of this explains the mystery of how…consciousness…emerges from matter …”  That may be because the mind does not emerge from the brain.  Post-materialist science posits that consciousness is fundamental. Nasseim Haramein has observed, “Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking in the radio for the announcer.” Otherwise stated, the brain may act as a receiver of consciousness. Of course, this draws science closer to confirming religious belief in the soul. In the words of Robert Jastrow: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Richard Epstein

West Babylon