Letters to the Editor: 9/22/16


Spare the Ax

Dear Editor:

To the Mayor, Trustees, and Building Department:

I live at 261 Main Street, near the corner of Oakland Ave. The house on the corner next to us traded last summer. We have had very little interaction with the owners, as from the start they made it clear what they were entitled to do to their land, which runs right next to us and in between the two houses, which are very close together.

Early on we tried to appeal to them that to clear cut their parcel, including at least 6 mature trees, would destroy the privacy barrier between the two houses. I would have gone into the other ramifications — loss of habitat, loss of shade, loss of a barrier to street and neighborhood noise, loss of the barrier to pollution run off, loss of a wind break for both houses — if I believed they had any interest or knowledge of these things.

I did manage on one occasion to speak to one of them, to beg for the life of an at least 150 year old White Pine, that was at the bottom of their garden, quite a ways from their house. I pointed out that it was the tallest for blocks around, overseeing generations of villagers on their forays into and departures from Sag Harbor. It had been certified healthy (confirmed by an arborist a few years ago). I have video of this tree in a winter storm, swaying in the falling snow, hundreds of feet up. It was magnificent. It posed a threat to absolutely no one. Now it is gone, taken down in half a day.

The other owner of the house was out in her yard a few days ago, (every square inch visible to us now), with someone, a contractor, looking up at our windows with a perplexed expression, no doubt trying to come up with a solution to address the now glaring privacy issue. She wasn’t even here when all of this was done, and though we will be scrambling on either side to restore some sense of NOT living cheek by jowel, it won’t be the same for many years. In fact, it will never be the same. Shouldn’t people like this be protected from themselves, and shouldn’t we be protected from them?

I took video and pictures of all of this and posted on Facebook. I had almost one hundred comments. Many people were perplexed as to why Sag Harbor has no controls over this kind of thing. Many gave the details of their town’s restrictions: for example, in Peterborough N.H., a tree wider than a certain girth is considered historic and can’t be taken down. Another example: in Princeton, N.J., you have to get a permit from the council unless the tree is causing a hazard or has those ash-boring insects. Even if the tree is on your own property you can’t just chop it down. Many in our area on the East End of Long Island were simply amazed that this is actually legal.

On my walks in the village I’ve seen so many old and lovely gardens decimated, and replaced with water hogging lawns and a few bushes. I applaud the new size restrictions on houses that Sag Harbor has implemented, but isn’t it time to address the issue of clear cutting?

Thank you for your time,

Rue Matthiessen

Sag Harbor


Killing Field

Dear Editor

It surprises me that in a community that prides itself on its long history of preservation that a synthetic turf field would even be considered.  The consideration of such a field is so out of character for the community that I’m surprised more preservationists have not spoken out against such a field. If a synthetic field is installed it will virtually poison every living organism underneath it. No longer will robins come by the dozens in early spring to dig for earth worms because there will be none to consume. The field in hot weather will be hotter than the surrounding environment and will act as an oven. Anyone who has played on such a field will tell you about the temperature swings generated by the sun, not to mention the poison gases emitted from the crumbled assortment of rubber and other petroleum products. Sports related injuries are ten times greater than on a natural field and girls suffer more injuries than boys. The litany of issues go on and on and some are just coming to light now. The very fact that numerous agencies are involved in joint environmental studies should tell you that we as a community should step back from such a project.

I do understand the appeal. It does look beautiful from a distance and is generally easier to maintain. I can even see why it’s use is valid, particularly in a urban environment where space is limited. But, not in Sag Harbor. They have a long time partnership with Mashashimuet Park where the fields are impeccably maintained. Is it really worth ruining the aesthetic value of the community as a whole so that we can put a “PIERSON” logo in the middle of a virtual “killing” field?  Spending an additional twenty thousand plus for a vote that the board of education virtually knows the outcome of is just another example of how some members are out of touch in their own community. Hopefully, the voters will send a loud and clear message to the board of education. Because so far, even though they know the community’s feelings, they still don’t hear.


Thomas M. Jones

Sag Harbor