Citing Bay Street Theater’s key role as an economic anchor for Sag Harbor, a newly formed coalition of business owners is urging new Mayor James Larocca to make the future of the theater a top priority during his first 100 days in office.
Merchants for Bay Street made the request at a time when the theater is seeking to build a new facility on the site of the Water Street Shops complex, which it acquired last October. The property was included in a moratorium on major construction projects that was put in place last year as the Village Board undertook an effort to limit the impact of waterfront construction projects. Last week, the Village Board signaled it would extend that moratorium until March 1 as it seeks to fine-tune that effort.
“We are encouraged by the mayor’s recent remarks made to local media that he has met with Bay Street’s board chairman, Steve Todrys, to determine how best to proceed. Our group believes it is nothing less than economically vital that Bay Street remains in the village, but we also recognize there is a clock ticking on their current lease. Decisions will need to be made sooner rather than later, and we hope the mayor will provide insight on the direction of the code so they can begin their redesign,” Lisa Field, the owner of the Sag Harbor Variety Store, said in a release.
David Brogna, an owner of In Home Sag Harbor, said that Bay Street’s audience bring with them the purchasing power that allows local merchants to remain open all year for the entire community.
“Any development proposed for our ‘downtown’ needs to be part of a larger vision that we anticipate will be studied during the next few months, but we also believe the Bay Street Theater is the cornerstone of that plan,” he said. “It cannot be put on a back burner or debated far into the future. The theater’s leasing realities require a collaborative effort and a consensus to protect a shared future. We hope that the necessary adjustments to the Sag Harbor Waterfront Overlay District Code can be completed in a timely fashion, so that Bay Street can move forward with the design and approval process for its new facility.”
The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors this week also reiterated its support for keeping Bay Street in Sag Harbor, acknowledging the theater as an important economic driver in the village.
“Bay Street has been such an important contributor to the overall business community in Sag Harbor for so long that we hope every avenue is explored to keep the theater in the village for many years to come,” said Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Gavin Menu, the Co-Publisher of the Express News Group. “We know the new administration, led by Mayor Larocca, is renewing its effort to protect the waterfront and we sincerely hope that Bay Street is able to find a permanent home, in Sag Harbor Village, that conforms with these new codes governing the waterfront.”
This week, Mr. Larocca, who has said that he does not believe the Water Street Shops site is the best site for a future theater, stressed that he, too, wants to see the theater remain in the village, but he added that requires flexibility on Bay Street’s part. “My approach has been everything is on the table,” he said. “If the only thing they want to talk about is one individual site, it doesn’t do much to advance the discussion. I want to advance the issue by considering all possibilities.”
“Every vibrant community that seeks to protect its future requires a strong commercial downtown,” added Ms. Field. “The Bay Street Theater brings unique strength to that formula, especially during the winter months, and we urge both parties to find the common ground that gets us to groundbreaking.”
Besides the Variety Store and In Home, Merchants for Bay Street Theater includes Sen restaurant, Goldie LeWinter, Sylvester General store, the Dockside restaurant, Matriark, the Harbor Shop, Jane Holden, and the Little Red Planet.