The long planned $4.32-million renovation of Long Wharf could begin as early as September 9 or 10, right after the Chamber of Commerce’s annual HarborFest event that is set to take place on the wharf on the weekend of September 7 and 8, Sag Harbor Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said last week.
“We are pushing as hard as we can to be able to start construction the day after HarborFest,” the mayor said in an interview. “We have not taken any new boat reservations for after that day,” the mayor said, and “we have told the boats that are there that they have to be gone by that date.”
Because steel sheeting that will be installed and backfilled around the perimeter of the wharf takes the most time for delivery, the mayor said she had signed the order for it. The cost is less than $1 million and the village has the money on hand to pay for it, she said.
By the time this story is published on July 18, she said, shopkeepers and landlords with property at the wharf will have been warned that the main entryway at Bay Street will be blocked off by a cyclone fence. A five-foot-wide walkway will be left open to provide pedestrian access to the sidewalk outside those business properties, the mayor noted.
The contractor, Chesterfield Associates Inc. of Westhampton Beach, will be using the parking area between the storefronts and the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill as a supply and equipment staging zone.
The mayor said that Chesterfield Associates will strive to finish the project by early to mid-June, 2020. “If we have the same winter we had last year, we’ll be fine,” Ms. Mulcahy said. “If we have the same winter we had four years ago, when the whole harbor froze, all bets are off.”
The plan developed by the village’s engineering consultant, P.W. Grosser Consulting Inc. in Bohemia, is the same one aired before local boards in 2018. It calls for completely removing and replacing the existing asphalt pavement. The new steel sheeting will be installed 18 inches out from the existing, deteriorating sheeting that skirts the wharf, so the project will add three feet to the width of the structure.
The steel sheeting is a bulkhead that holds in place the rocks and fill on which the wharf was built, according to project engineer Jenny Lund of P. W. Grosser. They declined to provide details of the work schedule until she finalizes them with the contractor.
The renovation will include an eight-foot-wide tropical hardwood pedestrian boardwalk around the perimeter of the wharf and a 40-foot-wide viewing area at the end. The walkway and viewing area will result in the loss of four of the wharf’s current 102 parking spaces, the mayor noted.
Existing memorial benches will be retained and more added along the entire perimeter of the wharf. Downward-facing “Dark Sky”-compliant lighting will be added, as will decorative planters.
Unlike the current wharf, the renovated structure will include a fence along the edge to keep people from falling into the bay — something that happens occasionally, the mayor said. It will feature steel cables strung between posts in a pattern tight enough to keep children from angling through it, the mayor said. There currently is no barrier along the edge.
There also will be a low wooden vehicle barrier, like the one there now, to separate the parking spaces from the pedestrian boardwalk.
Landscape architect Edmund Hollander, a village resident whose Park Avenue firm designed the layout at no charge, said the goal of the walkway design was to make the wharf feel more accessible to pedestrians and more integrated into the village’s waterfront.
The perimeter boardwalk eventually is expected to continue off the wharf, he said, and “go along waterfront and under the [Lance Corporal Jordon C. Haerter Veterans Memorial] Bridge and into the Steinbeck Park.”
The renovation will add a runoff filtration system to the wharf for the first time. Runoff currently drains without treatment from the surface of the wharf.
The park is planned for a 2.75-acre waterfront parcel that the Town of Southampton intends to buy from developer Jay Bialsky and preserve as open space, letting the village manage it as a park. The sale of the parcel is expected to close in a matter of weeks, Mayor Mulcahy said last week.
Plans for the project have been authorized by the state DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the mayor said; they were reviewed in 2018 by the village’s Harbor Committee and the Planning Board. The Village Board of Trustees approved the plans in October 2018 so that P. W. Grosser could write the bid specifications.
In what seemed a major blow to the project, Trustee Aidan Corish announced in January 2019 that the village’s application for a $2.5-million New York State consolidated economic revitalization grant to help fund the project had been rejected. Then-mayor Sandra Schroeder nevertheless pushed the project forward and, in May 2019, the Village Board voted to accept Chesterfield Associates’ low bid of $4,321,944. In June, it authorized the issuance of up to $4 million in bonds to pay for the work.
Mayor Mulcahy noted that Trustee Corish has overseen the submission of a new application to the state for a 2019 grant to help fund the project, this one totaling $2.16 million. The village in 2017 was awarded a state grant totaling $550,000 for the project that remains available.
The mayor last week said the village would limit its bond sales according to whatever balance remains to be funded after grants are applied.
In 2018, Mayor Schroeder said at a Village Board meeting that a $3-million bond issue would cost a village taxpayer with property assessed at $795,000 an additional $61.22 in village taxes a year for 20 years.
Built in the 18thcentury at a site just to the west of the existing structure, Long Wharf was previously owned and maintained by Suffolk County, which completely renovated it about 30 years ago and rehabilitated its steel sheeting 12 years ago. The county gave the wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor in 2012, with the village to be responsible for all maintenance costs.
When the village took title in early 2013, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who was the village attorney at the time, said that the village would transfer money every year to a reserve fund to pay for long-term capital expenses for the wharf “so it won’t be necessary to borrow money” to keep it maintained. Mr. Thiele left his village post in April 2016.
The mayor said she and other village officials will host a booth on Long Wharf during HarborFest to answer peoples’ questions about the renovation project, the Steinbeck Park plan and any other village issue, such as the pending project to improve the runoff control and filtration system in place at Havens Beach.