Ordinarily, such an august occasion as the reopening this week of a public space as important as Long Wharf is to Sag Harbor would warrant a parade, or at least a concert by the Sag Harbor Community Band. And speeches, lots of speeches.
But this being the age of COVID-19, the reopening of the historic pier after a 10-month renovation costing $4.3 million will likely be marked by a random motorist noticing one morning later this week that the barricades are down and he might as well drive out to the end to see if the bay is still there.
“It is going to be magnificent,” said Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy. “It’s going to be the crown jewel of Sag Harbor.”
But as beautiful as it may be, the mayor said she was not feeling up to taking any chances by inviting everyone down to the waterfront for a proper dedication ceremony. At least not yet.
“It makes no sense for us to bring people down for a photo op. when we are not supposed to be gathering in larger groups,” she said. “I’d much rather do something in the fall, or later in the summer when we can do something that involves the whole village.”
She suggested that if the coronavirus remains in check that a dedication ceremony could be tied into the village’s annual Harborfest celebration.
Paving crews, already delayed one week, were on the scene Monday and Tuesday of this week, laying fresh layers of black top on the wharf.
“If the weather gods cooperate, we will stripe tomorrow and be open for people to park Thursday,” the mayor said. If those gods don’t cooperate, it will have to wait until Friday.
The mayor did concede to one bit of celebration. Assuming the paving and striping are done on time, she said the village was going to hold a small breakfast celebration complete with a show of fire trucks and village Department of Public Works trucks to honor workers, who despite the pandemic, managed to get the job all but finished just a month later than the original June 1 target date.
Some mop-up operations remain. Ms. Mulcahy said electrical work for downward-facing lights along the pier and to sell power to the big yachts that now rely on their own generators for power will be done in mid-to-late July. Horizontal barricades along parking spaces, which will double as benches, are also still to be installed.
The project cannot be finished too soon for merchants, whose businesses were first affected by the road and parking space closures and then by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m very relieved,” said Marjorie Scanlon, an owner of Ava’s and Around Again in the Long Wharf Promenade. “Our business being on the pier, we were greatly impacted since September 23, when they started,” she said.
Ms. Scanlon said business fell off to a trickle over the winter and then the viral outbreak was like a “second punch.”
But she said construction crews had done their best to let customers get to the shops and she was looking forward to the job’s completion.
“It’s going to be really beautiful,” she said.
Across the hall at the Big Olaf ice cream parlor, manager Dennis Vaquero said many normal customers didn’t realize the shop was open for business. “Things are starting to pick up,” he said, to the point that business is just about back to normal.
Lisa Field, the president of the village Chamber of Commerce, said she was excited because the reopening will be good for the businesses “that have been so patient and carried this burden” throughout the renovation project.
Plus, she said, once the work is done, the chamber will be able to open its visitor center in the windmill at the foot of the pier. “It will be a great way to welcome people to Sag Harbor,” she said.