Trustee Takes Sides on Proposed Sag Harbor Police Impound Lot

From left, Sandra Ferguson, the vice president of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, Dai Dayton, the president of the organization, and David Cummings, a board member, all oppose the village's plan to create a police vehicle impound lot on Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, pictured in the background. Christine Sampson photo

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish on Tuesday joined the chorus of voices urging the village board to find a different location for a police impound lot proposed right now for a slice of land surrounded by the Long Pond Greenbelt that fronts on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

Ever since the village began talking about putting an 80-by-60-foot impound lot there, the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt and other local environmental activists and organizations have lobbied against the proposal. The Southampton Town Planning Board dealt their cause a blow last week when it approved Sag Harbor Village’s site plan for the impound lot by a 4-1 vote. While the Sag Harbor Village Board as a whole had not come out in direct support of or in opposition to the plan before Tuesday, during the meeting Mr. Corish said after watching the Southampton Town Planning Board proceedings online, he is in favor of siting the lot somewhere else.

“I would like us as a board to discuss alternatives to putting in a piece of permanent infrastructure in the Long Pond Greenbelt,” he said. “It’s not just for us, it’s for the future. Once it’s there, it’s there forever. We do have a real issue in the village … with what we do with impounded vehicles. I’d like us to discuss it to see if we can find a solution that would be amenable to everybody.”

His comments were met with applause from the crowd.

“We know that Sag Harbor has received site plan approval for the project, but that does not change the fact that this project poses a threat to the fragile groundwater systems of the Greenbelt,” Dai Dayton, president of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, said during the meeting’s public comment session. “We urge you to look for another, more appropriate site … and as complicated as finding an alternative location might be, we would like to believe there exists among the elected officials of Sag Harbor enough concern for our environment to find another location and to protect the Greenbelt by preserving this parcel.”

The 4,800-square-foot area is in Southampton Town, just south of the waste transfer station, but it is owned by Sag Harbor Village. It is most frequently used as the site of leaf collection, but more recently, the village has given PSEG permission to park utility trucks there while it completes storm-hardening work on the local electrical grid. The village’s plan is to keep up to 20 impounded vehicles fenced-in at the site.

Ms. Dayton handed the mayor and trustees a petition with more than 500 signatures opposing the impound lot.

“Every signature is a plea directed to you to do the right thing,” Ms. Dayton said. “And that right thing is to protect our aquifer and this rare and unique chain of coastal plains, ponds and wetlands, the Long Pond Greenbelt.”

Local resident and business owner Nada Barry suggested storing impounded vehicles at the Sag Harbor Fire Department headquarters on Brick Kiln Road, but Mayor Sandra Schroeder told her that’s where those vehicles are already being kept.

“There’s no room” to continue doing so, Ms. Schroeder said.

Mr. Corish said the cars there now are “impeding other work that has to go on in the village.”

“It’s untenable,” he said. “We have a growing problem and we need to look to the future.”

On Wednesday, Ms. Dayton said Mr. Corish’s comments had given her “a glimmer of hope.”

“And with a new board member, maybe they’ll find another place,” she said, referring to newly elected Trustee Thomas Gardella. “We’re going to stay with it.”