Letters to the Editor: 4/18/19

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A Different Picture

Dear Editors:

John Steinbeck wrote in his novel The Winter of Our Discontent, “You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.”

The irony of Steinbeck’s words strikes at the heart of what you refer to in your editorial. Most people are of the mistaken belief that the Village is getting a John Steinbeck Memorial Park in return for all the approvals and variances it granted on the townhouse development at 2 West Water Street. The details provide a different picture and worrisome as those who attempted to express their concerns did not as public comment periods had been closed for months, even as material changes were still being placed into the public record for the first time as recently as the Harbor Committee’s meeting on April 8. All of which makes Mr. Steinbeck’s words all the more poignant when viewed in the context of what the Village got in the deal and what it gave up.

The Village got about an acre of land costing $10.5 million (funds received from the Community Preservation Fund which consists of real estate transfer taxes previously paid but not used), avoidance of commercial development of the property it is buying and removal of some eyesore buildings. As you address, funding for development of the actual park was not part of the deal.

The Village gave up more than 1/3 of an acre of Sag Harbor Cove to be used for a private dock with 6 boat slips. As context, the Village’s A dock on West Water Street covers half as much water surface area and harbors 22 boats. This approval was granted without discernible discussion on public waterway usage rights of a public body of water or its adverse impact to a navigation channel and public safety. Shoreline environmental or ecological impacts were not evaluated to address the adverse impact of blanketing in darkness this large an area of shallow water and home to spawning bluefish, minnow and horseshoe crab or the installation of a bulkhead that will erode the very shoreline of the purchased property.

It also risks losing control over commercial development and height restrictions on the waterfront and harbor area. In granting a 400 percent variance to allow 45’ tall buildings it created a dangerous legal precedent for future development. The application for the Post Office vacant lot development has already been re-submitted to increase from 2 to 3-story mixed use structures. It is almost a certainty that development applications are in the future for the 7 Eleven building, the Malloy/Long Warf buildings and the Bridge Street parking lot after the Village’s lease runs out, all aimed at increasing their footprint to 45’ high and as mixed-use structures.

An old picture of Sag Harbor Cove from the days when John Steinbeck actually called Sag Harbor home was submitted in the application for this project. It shows a cute fishing pier with rowboats and lots of people enjoying themselves on a sandy shore. When people refer to the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and Waterfront Consistency Review that’s the picture that comes to my mind.

How about you?

Larry Haag

Sag Harbor

 

Pursuing Excellence

Dear Sag Harbor Express

My name is Julian Barrowcliffe. Growing up in England, in a working class family where nobody had any further education, I was fortunate to gain a place at an excellent school. The education I received there transformed my opportunities in life, and ever since then I have been passionate about the importance of the best education possible, for everyone. This is why I am running for Sag Harbor School Board.

I believe that my life experience makes me a very strong candidate for the school board. Educationally, I have an honours degree in Business Administration and French from Loughborough University Of Technology in England. Professionally, I spent 27 years working in finance in New York, in senior positions at Bankers Trust, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, where I built and ran complex businesses employing teams around the globe. Everyone who has ever worked with me will say that I am a team player. Personally, I have been on the board of a private, not for profit school in Manhattan for seven years, and I have a 13-year-old in Pierson middle school, and five-year-old twins entering Sag Harbor Elementary. One of my five-year-olds has autism.

I learned at the recent budget presentation in Noyac that we spend $45,033 per pupil. To put that in perspective, the U.S. average in 2015 was $11,392, and the New York State average in 2016 was $22,366. With this in mind, I strongly believe that we should have one of the greatest school districts on Long Island without additional burden on local taxpayers. I am asking for Sag Harbor’s support so that I can serve the community and students. Let us work to make Sag Harbor School the best that it can be.

Julian Barrowcliffe

Sag Harbor

 

From Board Game to Board Room

Dear Editor,

On Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Supervisor Schneiderman and his three democratic cohorts spent $1.06 million to purchase the Bel-Aire Cove motel in Hampton Bays. Despite numerous warnings from the Suffolk County Planning Department and the Southampton Town Planning Board regarding the overdevelopment of this small parcel, the supervisor seemed pleased with his “out-of-the-box” approach. Several Hampton Bays residents addressed the town board with their detailed concerns, but even their fellow Hampton Bays resident, Councilwoman Julie Lofstad, appeared to take her marching orders from the supervisor.

If the supervisor wants to roll the dice, perhaps he and his Democratic board should play Monopoly, rather than secure a loan of $1.2 million from the town’s general fund. Motels seem to be a favorite of the supervisor, but Hampton Bays is not Montauk. If and when 12 condos or a 22 room hotel are built, in place of a small park, the supervisor has forced all our taxpayers into the real estate business. In my opinion, this is poor public policy, and it was done using the urban renewal law, a strange label for a Hampton Bays project. Real estate development belongs to the private sector. Our town should focus on enforcement of our existing laws, before a place becomes a blighted eyesore in our midst. Once again, Supervisor Schneiderman has found another way to throw money at a problem.

Greg Robins

Republican Candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor

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