Letters to the Editor: 6/6/19

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Better Way to Manage Storm Water

Dear Kathryn,

Everyone who knows Havens Beach realizes that the water quality and the shape and texture of the beach itself suffer from the dirty storm water now being siphoned into the bay waters via the large drainage ditch that bisects the Havens public recreational space. These negative effects are also felt at the SANS beaches to the east.

We are seeing high bacteria counts in the water, making swimming unsafe. Stagnant, dirty water pools at the outflow put children at risk. Erosion is occurring and a dangerous, squishy concoction underfoot near the outlet has arisen.

Most people are also aware of the increasing flooding conditions in village streets in heavy rains. Basements are flooding. Village drainage systems are utterly inadequate to the amounts of storm water run-off with nowhere to go as new paved construction and bigger houses are constructed, replacing back yards and permeable open space.

The Village Trustees are getting ready to “remedy” both these situations at once with a proposal to construct a new concrete pipe in the ditch, change the sponge filters on the drain, mow the phragmites, and build rip rap structure that they hope will contain erosion. This work will be connected to a new drainage pipe at Hempstead Street, facilitating more road run off to enter the ditch, and thence the bay.

In theory this new construction will reduce the number of bacteria going into the bay while speeding up the rate at which road run off leaves the roads and enters the bay.

The Friends of Havens Beach have many questions. Will these sponges really be capable of filtering out all the pernicious bacteria? Does mowing phragmites achieve anything? What kinds of erosion occurs when storm water runs out faster? And how much dirty water in the dreen will simply by-pass the filters altogether and go straight into the bay?

The engineers will surely argue that all this will work fine. And that even if it doesn’t, anything is better than the failed (and expensive) system that is there now.

Spending more money and trying harder might make a bad situation very, very slightly better. Or perhaps worse. No one really knows.

What we do know is this:

The solution to increased flooding in the Village should NOT be to run dirty water — or even filtered dirty water — into the bay. (And most certainly not at a beach given to the people of Sag Harbor for quiet recreation!).

At its next meeting on June 10th the Harbor Committee is being asked by the Village to review the proposal to see if it is consistent with the goals of the LWRP. It would seem a no-brainer that it is not consistent with the goals of safe water, and public health and recreation.

But the way the proposal is being put is: that it’s better than the mess we have now. Friends of Havens Beach asks that the Harbor Committee not fall for this “logic.” We ask that they recommend to the Village Trustees not to implement this project. Instead that they recommend:

The Village come up with an effective, comprehensive plan for street drains. One that allows for storm water to be absorbed into ground rather than run into the bay at the Village’s only public swimming beach. Or anywhere along the shore.

That — instead of a single ditch — at least part of the almost 20 acres behind Havens Beach be restored to wetlands, able to absorb both storm water and the inevitable hurricane surges.

All around the country coastal parks are being designed that remain parks but have this capacity and beauty. And grants are readily available for well-thought out cohesive projects. Friends of Havens Beach will gladly assist with this aspect!

Please hold off on this misguided project. Let’s save our efforts for something that will truly benefit the Village.

Yours truly,

Carol Williams, Kate Plumb

For Friends of Havens Beach

Sag Harbor

 

Jean Vanier and L’Arche Long Island

To the Editor:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Vanier on May 7. Vanier was the founder of L’Arche, a worldwide movement that establishes communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives together. L’Arche means “ark” in French. In 1964, Vanier purchased a small house in France and invited two men with intellectual disabilities to share this home for the rest of their lives. From this simple act of kindness, Vanier’s vision for L’Arche has grown into the L’Arche of today that includes 154 communities and 21 community projects worldwide. The newest of these community projects is L’Arche Long Island, located in Riverhead.

Jean Vanier’s death follows the passing of Jean Lanier and Michel Berty, the principal founders of L’Arche Long Island. Through the tireless efforts of these two longtime residents of Wainscott, the Riverhead home was opened in 2016 for four people with intellectual disabilities and the assistants who share life with them.

The L’Arche Long Island community will honor Jean Lanier and Michel Berty on July 7, 2019 at a reception to be held at the Jackson Carriage House in Amagansett from 4-6 p.m. Proceeds from this event will go to support L’Arche Long Island and help realize the vision of creating new homes and new programs on the East End.

Rob Smart

Sag Harbor

 

Looking to the Future

Dear Kathryn,

Thank you and The Express, Save Sag Harbor, and the JJML for hosting the candidates event on Saturday morning. It was important for the Sag Harbor residents to see the differences between the candidates directly in a debate format.

I want to re-iterate a few points made during the debates where it is most obvious that Mayor Schroeder and I disagree, starting with the need for an overall strategic plan. I believe we need a long term, comprehensive plan for the village, done in conjunction with the residents and stakeholders and our neighbors. It must look at the entirety of the Village, its upcoming issues and changes. It cannot be done piecemeal, one project or area at a time, or it isn’t the valuable tool we need to form the decisions of all the boards for a cohesive and holistic blueprint for the future of Sag Harbor.

The same goes for a Village Administrator. Contractors and consultants, who often work for the companies that are doing the work, might be paid by Sag Harbor, but they are not necessarily working in our best interest. A Village Administrator, with an urban planning background, while initially costly to the Village, will be able to oversee all the major projects coming up in the next few years (Long Wharf Restoration, Havens Beach drainage repair, Steinbeck Park, expansion of the sewer system, etc.). Again, we need a holistic approach, one set of eyes looking out for the community, not a series of different consultants saying everything their own company is doing is fine.

And finally, Bay Street Theater. Bay Street is a not only a cultural jewel in Sag Harbor’s crown, it is an economic driver of the vibrancy of Main Street. It is there for our residents all year long.   The sell-out musical performances in winter months bring people to our restaurants and shops at a time when the business is sorely needed. The Literature Live! program gives school children a chance to see classic books brought to life on the stage. Thousands of visitors and tourists come and enjoy Sag Harbor on their way to be delighted and entertained by the Mainstage Summer Season programming and the Summer Gala. Our village would not be the same without it.

The Sag Harbor Board needs to change. It needs to think strategically about what our future looks like and how we can protect the things we love about this vibrant year-round village; cultural places like Bay Street Theater and the soon to be re-opened Cinema and our waterfront and marinas and Havens Beach. It needs to listen to the residents of all the communities it serves and help them all keep the charm and feel of what makes each area special. It needs to support the volunteer emergency services, the school district, the multi-generational residents and our newer year-round residents, the tourists and the seasonal visitors. And it needs to encourage and support the businesses, restaurants and shop owners on Main Street that keep Sag Harbor vibrant 365 days a year.

Aidan Corish, Bob Plumb and I can make these changes. By planning for the environmental, economic and demographic changes that are coming, and by working with all our residents in advance, we will raise the level of the Mayor’s office and the Board of Trustees to become focused on the future success of our Village.

I hope the residents of Sag Harbor Village will support us on Tuesday June 18th.

All the Best,

Kathleen Mulcahy

Candidate for Mayor

Horizon Party

Sag Harbor

 

Open a Dialogue

Dear Kathryn,

I would like to thank the Sag Harbor Express, Save Sag Harbor and the John Jermain Memorial Library for hosting the candidates debate last Saturday. I enjoyed participating and hope that it was an informative event for all those in attendance.

As election day approaches I would like to outline what I believe are the biggest issues facing our village and how we can prepare for them.

First and foremost is water quality. It is not an overstatement to say that as the quality of our waters goes, so goes Sag Harbor. That is why from its inception in 2017, in association with our village, neighboring municipalities, private entities, charitable foundations and individual contributors, I have been actively involved in the first continuous water testing initiative to take place in Sag Harbor. In addition, I am leading the team to expand our sewage treatment plant service areas. The goal of this project is to take full advantage of excess processing capacity at our facility, and reduce the amount of nitrogen and coliform bacteria that enters our waterways.

We are desperately in need of a long term village plan. We do have the LWRP which is currently being updated, but I believe that there have been profound and fundamental changes to Sag Harbor since this remarkable document was conceived and published 33 years ago. We need to begin with an open village dialogue to re-establish who we are, who we want to be, where we want to go and how we want to get there.

We have three major municipal projects in the offing, Long Wharf rehabilitation, Steinbeck Park creation and STP service area expansion. In addition we have a major construction project imminent on Long Island Avenue with another under consideration at the same location. These projects will not exist in isolated silos, there will be an impact on the village and the village management. For these reasons and a myriad of others, it is time for Sag Harbor to follow the example of many successful municipalities and hire a qualified, professional village manager. As well as overseeing these major projects, the creation and filling of this position will allow the village board to be more strategic and less executional in its deliberations and endeavors, to the betterment of the entire community.

In addition to our location and natural beauty, our cultural institutions, hospitality, and bespoke shopping opportunities are the engine of our prosperity. We need to embrace all of our cultural institutions and merchants through a better dialogue with them and our Chamber of Commerce. Similarly, the village and the school are inexorably linked, we are two sides of the same coin. A more meaningful dialogue with the school board to identify areas of mutual interest and benefit is in everyone’s best interest.

I appreciate the diversity of opinion that exists in our village and embrace inclusion, transparency and open respectful dialogue. I believe that I have demonstrated that once I have gathered all of the facts and listened to the contrary opinions, I am not afraid to make tough decisions no matter how difficult they might be.

There is no doubt that we will never agree on every issue, however I do hope that for the good of our community, we can disagree agreeably. The knowledge gained during my first term will serve me well and make me an even more effective representative should I be fortunate enough to be reelected.

I am asking you for your vote, on June 18. Please vote line 7, H Aidan Corish, Sag Harbor United!

Thank you.

Aidan Corish

Sag Harbor

 

Incorrect Police Report

Dear Sag Harbor Express,

A piece in the police report listings published on May 30, 2019 was inaccurate.
The expletive-filled rant by a neighboring property owner (which was also witnessed by other neighbors) did not occur on May 23, but on May 20th.  It was reported in person, not by phone, to the Sag Harbor Police on May 23, at the suggestion of concerned neighbors.

It was not “brought on by [my] objections to a building project several years ago.”  I never made any objection whatsoever to anybody about a building project years ago.

Sincerely,

Eileen Grigg

Sag Harbor

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