The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees created a handful of task forces last week to explore options for what a “re-opening” of the village could look like, including one group dedicated toward an effort to potentially redesign and rebuild emergency services facilities on Brick Kiln Road and Columbia Street.
During its last Friday work session on May 1, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy announced the creation of the task force, which will be led by board member and former fire chief Thomas Gardella, along with Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Deborah O’Brien, Corps Vice President Melissa Hesler and Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steven Miller.
The Columbia Street home of the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps was constructed in 1991 for the largely volunteer-based emergency service providers at a time when ambulance calls were a fraction of what they are today. The facility is not equipped to house the department’s staff trainings — unless ambulances are moved outside of the garage space and there is no office space for paid first responders or department leaders.
The Corps’s leadership has requested funding to upgrade its facility for a decade now, including a 2017 discussion where Ms. O’Brien requested the village consider a $2.5 million expansion of its ambulance barn with village officials then committing to exploring grant options.
“We have all known for many years the ambulance barn needs to be redone and needs to be completely renovated if not completely rebuilt,” Ms. Mulcahy said at the Friday work session. She said she would like the task force to explore what a long-term plan for an emergency services facility, including the neighboring fire department headquarters, would look like and to help launch a fundraising effort to support the project.
“We need to really look at a way to raise some significant money to be able to build a new ambulance barn and get an engineer and architect in there to look at the entire property and look at how we build an emergency services compound that will also help our fire department,” said Ms. Mulcahy.
“Never have they come to our aid better than in the last couple of months,” she said.
“Never have they been more necessary, and that is not going to go away any time soon.”
The village also announced a handful of other task forces, meant to prepare for an eventual re-opening of Sag Harbor Village and its downtown and park spaces.
How to prepare for businesses re-opening, in various stages, is a task force that will be led by board member Bob Plumb.
“There are a lot of ideas out there and people who are excited about some of those ideas and people who are opposed to some of those ideas,” said Ms. Mulcahy. “It is a time for planning. We are going to plan and talk about the positives and negatives and trust there will be a plan in the next couple of weeks.”
“We need to balance the idea of a Main Street that is open with a Main Street that is safe and how we do that is not going to be easy,” she said.
One idea that has been tentatively discussed is the concept of closing Main Street to parked vehicles, removing the diagonal parking spaces and widening the sidewalk on both sides in an effort to allow for more successful social distancing when Main Street reopens, although Ms. Mulcahy stressed in work sessions last week that no decisions have been made and the village is just exploring all options moving forward.
Similarly, board members Aidan Corish and James Larocca will coordinate the task force that looks at public parkland and Havens Beach, including any plans for outdoor theater or film screenings — both of which have been pitched by Bay Street Theater and the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, respectively.
Village Clerk and Administrator Beth Kamper and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardely will lead efforts to plan for the re-opening of the Municipal Building, including the building department, to the public. Ms. Mulcahy said ensuring the safety of village employees would remain a top priority. Re-opening the Justice Court must also be looked at, she said.
“There will a large backlog of cases, so we have to think about how to create safe space,” she said.
Working out a plan for traffic control officers — many who are often young college students — and how they help people socially distance when Main Street reopens, is something Chief Austin McGuire is focused on, Ms. Mulcahy said.