By Christine Sampson
The Sag Harbor Antique Fire Truck Museum is changing its plans to erect a building for the storage and repair of its trucks on land it owns on Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, a project that has been in the works for about nine years, in hopes of instead buying a new property across from the Sag Harbor Fire Department on Brick Kiln Road.
According to Ed Deyermond, a former village trustee who is the vice president of the museum, the organization has been discussing selling its land on the turnpike to Southampton Town via its Community Preservation Fund. First, though, the organization has to amend its applications before Sag Harbor’s regulatory boards. It has to subdivide the land, since two of the original three parcels lie within Sag Harbor Village and one lies within Southampton Town.
“We’re trying to split off the piece that’s in the town from the application,” Mr. Deyermond explained Tuesday. “The village boards who approved all of this only have jurisdiction in the village, but because it was listed on the application, everyone considered it one piece of land.”
The organization needs that subdivision approved if the land is going to be purchased through the CPF. Monies from that sale, Mr. Deyermond said, would facilitate the purchase of the other piece of property.
“We don’t want to be stuck with four pieces of property, so we’re waiting on our application, and then we’ll have some more clarity and we’ll be able to move forward,” he said.
Mary Wilson, the director of the Southampton Town CPF, said in an email her team is “reviewing these parcels for possible preservation acquisition.”
“There is no requirement to ‘go through a village’ in order for a CPF acquisition to occur within a village,” she said. “… However, the town, of course, prefers to have the village’s support for acquisitions within that village.”
It is unclear whether such a sale has the full backing of the village trustees. Mayor Sandra Schroeder could not be reached for comment. Trustee and deputy mayor Ken O’Donnell said Wednesday such a CPF sale “might muddle the situation” with the potential Greystone Property Development sale of waterfront land via the CPF for the creation of the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park — a public purchase the village board has championed for over a year.
“It’s definitely a concern. I don’t want to take the eye off the prize,” Mr. O’Donnell said Wednesday. “My understanding is if you ask anyone on the board what their number-one CPF priority is, it’s the potential future home of the park. I hope that Southampton Town could do both. But I understand the situation — they are looking for money because they found what they hope is a better situation.”
According to a July 14 letter to the village board from the museum organization, the fire department’s Board of Wardens has also suggested the turnpike property be offered to Sag Harbor Village for the purpose of building new facilities for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Responding to that potential, Mr. O’Donnell said he would prefer the village board sit down soon to create a long-term plan for its facilities for its fire, ambulance, public works and other services.
“This fall, I think, we have to look at a larger plan going forward,” he said.
“Everything’s old. Everything’s on either the brink of replacement or needs replacing. We have to sit down and say where do we stand in 10 years, and instead of putting Band-Aids on the situation, we do a long-term fix.”
Also, during the August 8 village board meeting, Mr. O’Donnell suggested the village look into creating affordable housing there.
“Obviously, affordable housing on the East End, never mind Sag Harbor Village, is a problem,” he said this week. “We’re losing professionals and young people because they can’t afford to live here.”
However, the affordable housing idea fizzled after it was pitched, with Mr. O’Donnell later learning that the land was limited in development potential by its proximity to Ligonee Creek.
“It didn’t sound like it was really that viable an idea,” he concluded.
The Sag Harbor Antique Fire Truck Museum is planned as a three-bay building to store and work on four vehicles, which are used for parades, funerals and other events, Mr. Deyermond said.
“We have a lot of parts, equipment and things of that nature. The key is to bring them all home, store them there, work on them and then show them at off-site locations,” he said. “This has been years and years and years. Whichever way it goes, I’ll be happy.”