Halt Loss of Vegetation
To the Editor:
The Sag Harbor Express has brought to the fore very important issues facing Sag Harbor through their Sessions forums. One recent session focused on “Land Use and Preservation.” Many concerns were discussed, but one pressing issue still must be addressed: the preservation of Sag Harbor’s natural landscape. One only needs to look around to see the number of lots completely cleared, and in their place, walls of high shrubs, manicured lawns etc., creating a suburban setting in what has historically been scenic country surroundings. This destruction of our natural environment has also increased noise, air pollution and water runoff, as well as severely reduced vital wildlife habitats.
The disconcerting fact is that Sag Harbor is virtually the only village on the East End without significant natural landscape protections. Over the last 2 ½ years, with the knowledge of the Village government, a small group has worked behind the scenes to preserve the indigenous trees and vegetation of Sag Harbor. Initially, the group easily garnered over 200 signatures in support of regulations. After reviewing codes from other Villages, and in consultation with landscape architects, building inspectors and other experts in land preservation, the group provided a comprehensive protection proposal to the Mayor, Village Board of Trustees (VBOT) and the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (HPARB). This proposal, which gained the full support of Save Sag Harbor, the Group for the East End and SANS residents, included specific recommendations to help retain the established landscape of our Village. Notwithstanding this effort, there has been no progress on meaningful codification.
It is time to halt the devastating loss of native trees, shrubs and other vegetation in our Village. The Mayor, VBOT and the HPARB should act quickly to close this significant gap in the code and enact consequential legislative protections of our natural environment. This is a necessity and an obligation if we want to safeguard Sag Harbor Village from becoming a sterile suburbia, forever losing its natural heritage and beauty, the very things that have brought most of us to this charming, picturesque Village.
Tree and Landscape Preservation Committee of Save Sag Harbor, and the Board of Save Sag Harbor
Last year, right about this time, my husband Scott, who had been doing some yard work, called to me and showed me a turtle trapped by our fence. S/he was facing the bay across the street, yet obviously blocked from accessing it. Scott cut a hole in the bottom of the fence as the turtle watched. We left for a couple of hours of errands, and upon our return the turtle was nowhere in sight. We’re assuming a happy ending.
It got me to thinking, however, about how, growing up, no one had fences. We were all able to access our neighbors’ yards to retrieve an overthrown ball or simply to take a short cut. Looking around Sag Harbor and pretty much all of the Hamptons, I realized that almost everyone has a fence, whether it’s by ordinance to prevent those from falling into a swimming pool, or to protect our precious hydrangeas from deer.
I remembered, a week earlier, seeing my neighbor’s cat stalking a rabbit, and realized with horror, that a rabbit, while running from a cat, could certainly be stopped by a fence, with no escape. I called Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons and discussed the situation with a representative who expressed her exasperation over the many ways in which our wildlife is imperiled by civilization, particularly at times of migration, like now. A suggestion she made is that if you are installing a fence, do so with the bottom a few inches off the ground. If you already have a fence in place, cut an opening in the bottom on each side of your property (she advised animals will walk along the fence until they find an opening.) I realize those of you with cats or small dogs may not wish to take the chance of losing your pet. Perhaps other solutions exist. I figured this was worth sharing.
I am dismayed that even with declining student enrollment our school tax levy continues to increase.
With a proposed 4.67% maximum tax levy, the Sag Harbor School Board is chasing out young families who can no longer afford the taxes. I realize that the Board has also examined lesser increases, but with fewer students why should there be any increase?
Why do administration personnel costs continue to rise?
Why does the budget for athletics continue to escalate (including $30,000 for artificial grass mats for the gym). Is this really necessary?
And then there is the Stella Maris fiasco. The costs for renovations continue to spiral higher with no end in sight and to what end?
It’s time to admit this was a major mistake and end the runaway costs by selling the facility.
It’s time to re-evaluate the proposed budget. With the elimination of the SALT tax deductions young families and those on fixed incomes can no longer afford year-after-year, ever-escalating taxes. There is a new reality and the Board of Education needs to take off its blinders and have some consideration for the tax payers.
I was watching the Southampton Town Council’s meeting on SEA-TV Channel 22 when many residents spoke about the outrageous DEC’s reversal on issuing a permit to the Sand Land Mine. The residents who spoke encouraged the Town to sue the DEC for rewarding “a known polluter,” in the words of Assemblyman Theile, with a permit to continue contaminating our groundwater. Apparently the Town is the only government entity that can actually do something to correct this situation. Another speaker asked for monitoring wells to be installed at this site. Those who spoke want the Town to protect our water before it becomes a Super Fund Clean-Up site. What could be more basic than this? ( BTW, The Governor’s office is mute on this serious situation.)
I am proud of these residents who spoke. They are members of the Noyac Civic Council. Several months ago I watched NCC members speak against the building of a cell tower in a residential neighborhood. The NCC hosts “Meet the Candidates” nights, participates in the Great East End Clean Up, provides scholarships for members pursuing higher education, honors our veterans, invites elected officials to speak, looks out for safety and sanitary conditions at Long Beach and Trout Pond, to name a few of its activities. The Noyac Civic Council is the best advocacy group for our hamlet. That’s why I joined many years ago.
The NCC works closely with the Bridgehampton CAC and North Sea CAC to make a difference in all of our communities. I hope that more residents join this organization to become informed and make a difference in our community.