Nearly $400,000 In Hand For Sag Harbor’s Steinbeck Park

Members of the Sag Harbor Partnership and Village Board gathered Monday at John Steinbeck Waterfront Park to celebrate a milestone in the effort to raise funds to complete a master plan for the park. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Members of the Sag Harbor Partnership and the Sag Harbor Village Board gathered Monday morning at John Steinbeck Waterfront Park to celebrate a milestone: The raising of approximately $400,000 toward the estimated $4 million cost of turning the acre-plus waterfront park into a jewel of the village waterfront.

To be technical about it, members of the Partnership presented the village with a facsimile of a check for $91,607. Another $175,000 has been pledged to build a dining pavilion and to preserve the beachfront portion of the park. Added to the $131,025 that was raised at the Big Tent Party in 2016, the village now has $398,632.71 in hand to get started on a master plan for the park, which is now little more than a field with patchy grass, a handful of picnic tables and benches, and scattered lighting.

Ed Hollander, whose landscape design firm has been handling the design of the future park as a gift to the village and who has personally donated to the project, said the $4 million estimate was a rough one, and added that until an engineering study is completed and the proposals for the park packaged into a formal request for proposals, it would be impossible to pin down the exact cost of the project.

“We haven’t sat down, we haven’t made a final decision on a detailed plan,” he said. Still, he said, the time was right for donations. “If you want to be a good neighbor, if you want to help, make a donation” to the Sag Harbor Partnership.

The Partnership has gotten involved because the village, with a tight budget, was unable to commit to underwriting the cost of developing the park and was not legally allowed to accept tax-deductible donations for the work. So the partnership, as a registered not-for-profit, stepped in as an intermediary to collect donations and turn the funds over to the village.

In a press release, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy thanked the Partnership for its work on behalf of the village.

“Certainly, we all agree the park can and will be a lovely entrance to our village,” she stated. “Thanks to the Partnership and the support from the community, we can hopefully start Phase One this fall. We look forward to more donations coming in, too, as people emerge from the pandemic and hear more about the plans for this lovely park.”

At Monday’s event, the mayor singled out Trustee Aidan Corish, who designed the website that allowed donations to be collected.

Susan Mead, the Partnership’s co-chair, in the release reminded people that gifts to the Partnership that are earmarked for the park are tax deductible, adding that sponsorships are available starting at $1,000.

Molly Bishop, the Partnership’s executive director, said the organization was “thrilled with the incredible response so far and hope the summer season will add even more donors for the project putting us in great shape to move forward in the fall and continue until completion.”

Ms. Mulcahy has estimated that once final plans are in place, the project would take about two years to complete.