Letters to the Editor: 7/4/19


Let the Music Play

Dear Kathryn,

I’ve always thought of Sag Harbor as a bastion of creativity, a writers’ colony, a crossroads of maritime and terrestrial travelers, home to artists of diverse talents. So when I read in local papers that a Main Street business owner called the police because someone was playing a guitar on a public bench outside, I was astounded and dismayed.

Granted I don’t have all the facts as to why the employees were “disrupted.” If the guitarist was personally harassing them verbally, then by all means give him the legal boot. But it seems that his rights to inhabit our shared public streets were violated.

Buskers make the world richer. Sag Harbor needs more of them. Annual busking festivals can be found worldwide, from Norway to Australia, from Florida to Colorado. Our town is perfect for one. They bring color, music, diversity, optimism, humor, new ideas and revenue to towns that host them.

For decades, Sag Harbor has successfully fought the chain stores and worked hard to be the un-Hampton. Bravo to all who have thus fought. Are we really willing to inhibit our musicians, performers and visitors? To shame the creative souls willing to entertain and stimulate us as we stroll by? Every business owner I know around Main Street is kind and open-minded and enjoys the variety of activities going on around town.

Let’s encourage street artists to come out and perform. Toss in a few extra dollars to those hats. Stop and listen, request a song. Teach young people that Main Street is a safe and fun place to practice their skills and meet people from around the world. In Ireland, musicians have been treated as honored guests for centuries on end. Let’s treat ours that way too.

Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker

Sag Harbor


Note the Legal Difference

Dear Editor,

I am writing to you regarding one of your headlines in The Express dated June 20, 2019. The headline I’m talking about is “Non-Citizens Will Get Right to Drive Legally.” You need to correct that headline as many non-citizens already drive legally as they are in this country legally. The headline should be corrected and say illegal residents can now obtain a drivers license. That being said, many non-citizens are in this country legally and there is a difference and it should be noted in your article the correct way.

Jill Gengarelly

Sag Harbor


A Different Time

Dear Editor,

Ah, the memories evoked by Annette Hinkle’s piece on John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful [Sag Harbor Express, June 27]. His comment on why he chose to settle in Sag Harbor in the late ‘60s — that it “wasn’t all chic, which was part of its charm” — brought to mind the village of 50 years ago: the factories (five, including Grumman and Bulova), nine bars (Sal & Joe’s and The Argonne among them; but the Black Buoy was king, if you dared enter), the many grocery stores (A&P, Bohack, Schiavoni’s IGA and, further out, Korsak’s, Cleveland’s and the Cove Deli). There were three banks, two pharmacies, two luncheonettes — the Paradise (world’s best clam chowder and baked custard) and Half-Fast Eddie’s (was that really its name?) — and five (count ‘em) gas stations. Lots of shops lined Main Street: Spitz’s appliances, Christy’s liquors, Barry’s hardware, Ivan’s shoes, Caruthers’ flowers, the Ideal, Marty the barber, Cracker Barrel baby goods, Fil-Net (great for emergency pantyhose), Basile’s work clothes “for men and boys,” the post office tucked in near the IGA. And, of course, the movie theater and the Variety — along with the IGA, still with us, thank goodness. Rocco Liccardi had his antiques shop (a touch of whimsy, heated by a pot-bellied wood stove), and Nada Barry had just opened her new venture, The Wharf Shop. The occasional bookstore would come here to die. Nothing chic about it. Just useful.

My one brush with John Sebastian: On a winter’s day, my husband and I are chatting with Rocco in his shop, when in jingles a pretty, quite portly, hippie woman in fringe, boots, rings and a cloud of patchouli. Her car has broken down. Any chance of a ride to her friend’s house over the bridge? She seems familiar. It slowly dawns. It’s Mama Cass. Yes, yes, we’ll drive you! She squeezes impossibly into the back seat of our red VW bug, and we deliver her to John Sebastian’s simple white farmhouse in North Haven. He gives us a cheery thank-you wave as she goes in the door.

Thanks for reminding me.

Judith Long

Sag Harbor



Dear Editor,

On behalf of the entire John Jermain staff, I’d like to give our Fire Department and Police Department a wildly enthusiastic “Thanks!” for sharing their vehicles, and sirens, and the giant hose with the community last Thursday—their support made our Reading Club Kick-Off event a wonderful success. And thanks as well to our neighbors at the Whaling Museum for letting us use their driveway!

Here’s to a wonderful summer,

Catherine Creedon, Director

John Jermain Memorial Library


Helicopter Hell

Dear Editor:

I recently called the Southampton Town tax assessor’s office to discuss the ever-increasing appraisal of our property. We are in the path of the eastbound helicopter route, which has increased considerably. The ever-increasing eastbound helicopter traffic that follows a narrow path over Southampton Town residences is deafening, polluting and is counter to what the East End represents.

Those in the path are unable to sell their homes for the value assessed. That is wrong. Unethical Realtors are advised to only show houses for sale during light helicopter days (mostly Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday). That is wrong.

Ninety percent of the air traffic goes over Southampton Town, yet the town receives none of the financial benefit that East Hampton receives. Why does Southampton Town not fight for its citizens?

Traveling over the ocean and cutting in via the East Hampton coastline would affect those with the deep pockets who benefit from and promote the helicopters. The word among those in the aviation industry is: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” The helicopter pilot cowboys fly low and loud over those houses in the path. Frequently, they turn off their transponders so the people on the ground can’t identify them. This is a violation—but there are no consequences.

Southampton Town has never supported its residents on this issue, nor are property taxes being reduced as a result. There is no question that property values are reduced, and one cannot sell a home for market value if you are unfortunate enough to live in the path. The path is narrow, and only those under the path are mostly affected, so most of the Southampton Town residents are not concerned. But those living under the path live in “Helicopter Hell.”

At minimum, those living in the path should receive a significant property tax reduction, at least until 2021, when the FAA control expires.

Beyond that, it would be remarkably unusual but appreciative if our representatives take on the fight for quiet skies, or at least push for alternate routes to distribute the helicopter noise over a larger area. A few helicopters are fine. Every three to five minutes, four days a week, is deafening, polluting and overwhelmingly invasive.

Quoting the owner of one of the helicopter companies in New Jersey who feels badly for those residents getting hit with 100 percent of the eastbound traffic, he says it’s “a highway in the sky.”

Nicki Diner

Sag Harbor