Memorial Day weekend came and went without large crowds mobbing Sag Harbor’s Main Street — the traditionally desired effect of a holiday weekend on the South Fork — and this year, local officials agreed, that was probably a good thing.
In anticipation of what could have been a very busy weekend for visitors, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy signed an executive order Friday limiting parking on Main Street to 30 minutes for the duration of Memorial Day weekend in order to promote social distancing in the village.
It was one in a series of steps the Village Board has taken in the last two weeks in an effort to be proactive in preparation of more Main Street businesses opening this week and in anticipation of more visitors coming to the region as the summer season unfolds. Police tape was removed from benches and replaced with latex markers designed by board member Aidan Corish promoting social distancing, while some benches were removed altogether from Main Street in an effort to open sidewalks for pedestrians.
The village also unveiled “The Mask Project” last weekend. Designed by resident Bob Weinstein and funded by the Sag Harbor Partnership, “The Mask Project” features colorful banners affixed to lampposts throughout the village featuring many familiar faces of essential workers and emergency service providers from Sag Harbor, adorned in masks, encouraging people to wear face coverings while in the village.
On Tuesday, Mayor Mulcahy said “The Mask Project” has largely been well received by residents.
“We have gotten a lot of compliments,” she said. “I honestly wish we could do more. Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren has reached out to see if a similar project could launch in that village and [East Hampton Town Councilman] Jeff Bragman suggested it could be something used in Montauk as well. It would be wonderful to see that across the East End.”
Ultimately, Mayor Mulcahy said, the goal of the executive order signed Friday limiting what is traditionally a two-hour limit to parking on Main Street to 30-minutes was to prevent congregation of crowds on Main Street, while also ensuring those businesses that were open last weekend could still be patronized by visitors and residents. Mayor Mulcahy toured the village several times throughout the holiday weekend and said she was “delighted” with how the weekend went.
“We did have a couple of bad reports, but, for the most part, I think it went really well,” she said on Tuesday. “We had no bad reports of crowding at Havens Beach and I think the parking went really well. I did get one negative comment about it, but for the most part, it was pretty positive. Every time I drove through the village, there were spaces and it was not overcrowded.”
In addition to parking limitations, the village also removed some benches from Main Street and planned to remove a few more this week, said Mayor Mulcahy.
“The people I saw in the village were there for a reason — to go to specific places and not just to hang out, which is what we wanted,” she said. “We did have a few families gathered for picnics at Marine Park, and they were totally distanced from each other and that is what we want to see.”
The executive order signed Friday limiting parking ended Wednesday. Mayor Mulcahy said the Village Board would discuss whether to extend that during a work session Wednesday afternoon. She was also meeting with local restaurant owners, she said, to talk about how the village can help those businesses reopen and was working with retailers in anticipation of those businesses being able to open in a limited capacity this week.
“There is a lot coming out right now and we will learn a lot about what is possible over the next week,” she said.