Sag Harbor Village Board Hears Plea For Peace And Quiet

Rysam Street in Sag Harbor remained closed to traffic on Friday, August 7, three days after Tropical Storm Isaias blew down limbs that brought down power lines. PSEG - Long Island has come under criticism from elected offiicals over its response to the storm. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

A Sag Harbor woman called on the Village Board to take steps to inform newcomers, who have descended on the village since the coronavirus pandemic began, that their fellow residents cherish their peace and quiet.

Kathryn Levy, who lives on Madison Street, told the board Tuesday that her neighbors, who formerly were only here for the summer, had moved in full time, and make so much noise that her life had become unbearable.

“We are kind of at our wit’s end,” she said. “We are basically chased out of our own garden most of the time.”

She said the noise comes when they throw parties and even when they hold business phone calls at high volume. “The parents are noisier than the kids,” she said. “They are acting like they are at a frat party.”

And she complained that police and village code enforcement officers did not work in tandem on noise complaints, and said her neighbors flout the law because they know it will not be enforced. “She told me she doesn’t care about the village noise ordinance and she is going to do what she wants,” Ms. Levy said.

Police Chief Austin J. McGuire said police do respond to noise complaints, but try to resolve issues first. “We look for compliance,” he said. “We ask people to quiet down, and if they do, we are not going to penalize them.”

He added, though, that police have a much easier time enforcing the ordinance if those filing complaints give their names and are willing to allow officers on their property to hear for themselves whether the complaint is well founded or not.

He said since April 15, police had handled 70 noise complaints, about half of which were for noise coming from construction sites or lawn maintenance. Half of the remainder proved to be unfounded when officers arrived, with the rest being resolved.

He agreed to meet with Ms. Levy to discuss her situation and see if a solution could be found. She, in turn, said she was not alone in her complaints and urged the village to take a broader approach by notifying all residents of the expected community standards.

“I think this is relevant for this board because there is a sea change, obviously in this village,” she said. “A lot of people who have only come out here in the summer and seen this as a kind of playground are living here permanently. They are not aware of the village code. They don’t seem to be very aware of our sense of community here.”

Also on Tuesday, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy, citing the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, asked fellow board members and department heads to produce financial reports for the board’s next formal meeting, on September 8, so the board can discuss whether it needs to tighten its fiscal belt going into the end of the year.

The mayor said the village was fortunate, in that it is not reliant on sales tax revenue as Suffolk County is, but in a conversation prior to Tuesday’s meeting, she said she was concerned that the village might be seeing revenue shortfalls from its sewage treatment plant, building department, and justice court.

I’d like at our board meeting in September to be able to have revenue reports by department to see if we have to make any budget changes or anything else as we go into the fall,” she said.

Christian Deger, the artist whose “Rainbow Tower,” a wooden structure with the colors of the Gay Pride flag was recently removed from county-owned land at the intersection of Long Beach and Noyac roads, offered to rebuild the structure to resemble a replica of the lighthouse for placement in the village’s new John Steinbeck Park. However, officials said it was far too early in the process to decide what type of artwork should be placed in the park.

“This upset in the world has set us back like so many other things,” said Trustee James Larocca, who said the village was about a year behind its planning for the park. Other board members agreed with his assessment and suggested the idea could be discussed further in the future.

Ms. Mulcahy also told the board the governor’s office has reached out to the village to ask when it plans to formally dedicate the newly renovated Long Wharf, which was largely paid for through state grant money. When the work was completed earlier this summer, Ms. Mulcahy said she was not comfortable organizing any type of activity that would unnecessarily draw a crowd to the village, but suggested something could be done in the fall if the pandemic eases.

Board members said they would not mind holding a dedication ceremony, but agreed that the dates suggested by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office — the three days leading up to Labor Day weekend — would not work. They suggested a mid-to-late September date instead.

The board also agreed to hold a public hearing on September 8 to take up a proposed six-month moratorium along the village waterfront and in its business district until the board can produce new development guidelines. The proposal was welcomed by Hilary Loomis of Save Sag Harbor, who read a statement in support.

The village’s long awaited update of its waterways law was tabled for at least another month. Ms. Mulcahy said the village’s Harbor Committee had requested the Village Board update charts accompanying the code amendment before adopting it. The mayor noted the new law would not go into effect until the spring of 2021 anyway.