By Stephen J. Kotz
The problem of too many cars parking around Sag Harbor’s schools has been talked about on and off for several years. But a recent decision by the village board to limit parking on a number of side streets seemed to take some people by surprise.
Dr. John French, a dentist, who has a home office at the corner of Hampton and Clinton streets, appeared before the board on Tuesday to ask for relief.
“No one wants to schedule because they are driving around for a half hour,” he said, after asking the board if it had thought about the impacts on local businesses before it adopted the new restrictions. “I’m going to lose half my business How am I supposed to see three patients an hour at a minimum when I only have two parking spots?
Under the new rules, which go into effect Monday, parking is prohibited on Clinton Street all the time and on Montauk Avenue between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Parking is also limited to one side of the street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Hamilton, Ackerly and Elizabeth streets.
Dr. French said it was time for the village to demand the Sag Harbor School District provide on-site parking for teachers or for the village to work out a deal to let them park at Havens Beach and shuttle them to the schools.
Trustee Ed Deyermond, a resident of Ackerly Street, said the situation has grown worse and worse over the years. “I think you hit the nail right on the head,” he said to Dr. French. “The school has to do something. The school has to step up.”
He added that village and school officials would meet later this week to discuss the matter. “We have been talking about this for years and what’s happened? Nothing at all,” he said.
Ken Dorph, who has long advocated for making the village safer and more inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists, also criticized the change. “The decision to unilaterally remove some of the parking around the school has really irked some of my neighbors, including my dentist,” he told the board.
He said the presence of parked cars help slow traffic. Removing them could have unintended, and dangerous repercussions.
“The village is making all sorts of decisions about transportation ….without a strategy or plan,” he told the board. “We need a plan. When it is reactive and unilateral and this sort of thing, people just get annoyed.”
Mr. Dorph urged the board to convene a committee, including members of the Chamber of Commerce and school district representatives, to hammer out a comprehensive agreement.
But Mayor Sandra Schroeder said the board had already acted and done so to allow room for fire trucks and ambulances to get through and help out homeowners. “Safety is an issue, and these people who live there have a right to be able to get in and out of their driveway,” she said.
Gigi Morris also had questions about the parking restrictions and said she had been told village officials would not meet with school officials. “Excuse me? Excuse me?” responded Mr. Deyermond. “You are misinformed,” added Mayor Schroeder.
Ms. Morris said the problem might be solved if the board allowed an ad hoc transportation committee to present its findings to the board. But Trustee Robby Stein said in his experience, such groups gather information, but rarely issue a comprehensive report that is useful in policy decisions.
New Police Deal
The Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday ratified a new four-year contract with the Sag Harbor Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents its police force.
The board provided scant details about the contract, which was adopted by a unanimous vote. Mayor Sandra Schroeder on Wednesday said the contract will cover 2017 through 2020 and give officers raises of 2.5 percent for each of the first two years and 2.25 percent for the last two years of the deal.
The mayor thanked the PBA for working with the village in working out a new contract. Before the last deal was signed, the two sides went through a lengthy and acrimonious negotiation that went to arbitration.