Stella Maris Plans Get Green Light from State

The former Stella Maris School on Division Street. Express stock photo

The Sag Harbor School District has received word the New York State Education Department has approved its architectural plans for the transformation of the former Stella Maris Regional School into a new early childhood education center. Up next, according to Sag Harbor superintendent Katy Graves, is the bidding process for construction contracts.

“The timing, I think, will work for the district because it’s coming at a time when Sag Harbor is not as congested and the contractors are not as busy,” she said. “Most of the project is happening indoors and I think that will work in the district’s favor. But I would have liked to see [approval] come earlier.”

She said she still expects the project to be completed in July 2019, as the district’s architects said in their November 5 presentation. The school board on Monday approved a cooperative contract that will allow the district to select a roofing contractor quickly to start that part of the project very soon.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Dominic LaPierre, an architect and resident who sits on the district’s Educational Facilities Planning Committee, delivered the results of the recent Stella Maris renaming survey. He said 274 people responded to the survey. Of that total, 29.8 percent favored putting “Sag Harbor” in the new name and 26.8 percent favored putting “Sage” in the name, referring to Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, the Sag Harbor activist and benefactor who donated land and money for Pierson High School, John Jermain Memorial Library and other community institutions. About 17.5 percent favored keeping “Stella Maris” in the name.

“We all collectively felt that ‘Sag Harbor’ and ‘Sage’ were really important to have in the name,” Mr. LaPierre said, telling the board the committee now needs more guidance.

Among the name suggestions that emerged were “Sag Harbor Sage School,” “Sag Harbor Educational Learning Center” and “Sage Hall.” Ms. Graves suggested the new name not be tied to the anticipated function of the building as a pre-kindergarten and day care center, as its use could change in the future.

“You don’t want to have a building name that doesn’t link to the building,” she said. “Keeping it more general is much more beneficial.”

Mr. LaPierre suggested the name should feel “aspirational.”

“It will be there forever,” he said. “It would be nice if we thought of it in a positive way.”