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Oct 2, 2018 12:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Looks At Spending $4 Million In CPF Money To Preserve Sag Harbor Cinema

The site of the Sag Harbor Cinema, which is under construction to be rebuilt as the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. JON WINKLER
Oct 2, 2018 2:54 PM

Southampton Town officials are looking to spend nearly $4 million of Community Preservation Fund money to obtain the development rights of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center property to aid in the building’s reconstruction, and which, in turn, would prevent the property from becoming something other than a movie theater in the future.

Along with the development rights, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said CPF money would be used to preserve the art deco-style facade of the theater.

By purchasing the development rights, the town would be able to regulate what can and can't be built on the property. The move would provide protection to the historic landmark to ensure its continued operation as a theater and aesthetic appeal to Sag Harbor and the Town of Southampton.

Calls to Southampton Town CPF Attorney Mary Wilson seeking specifics about what would be allowed under the deal were not returned.

As a condition of the sale, the supervisor noted that the town would put restrictions in place that would require that ticket prices remain affordable for everyone in the community—although he did not elaborate on what is considered affordable other than to say it would be comparable to area movie theaters.

The deal is also intended to prevent retail stores from ever being constructed at the site of the theater, and place restrictions on any retail sales there, possibly permitting only a souvenir shop related to the cinema.

“I personally think it is money well spent,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “There is a bundle of commercial development rights.”

The announcement, which was made at a Town Board meeting on September 25, comes almost two years after a fire ravished the historic building in December 2016.

Since the fire, the property has been purchased from former owner Gerald Mallow with $8 million in donations by the Sag Harbor Partnership, which has been raising money since the cinema burned down to fund its reconstruction.

The partnership’s goal is to bring back the movie theater, which in its new incarnation would serve as a community arts center with three screening rooms.

In a prepared statement, the partnership said, “Should the Town of Southampton approve the acquisition of the use and historic facade easements, then these easements, our Empire State Development reimbursement grant, and the funds we hope to continue to raise from our generous community for projection equipment, staffing, and programming for our first annual operating budget, will allow us to achieve our goals.

“Our wish has always been to purchase the property, rebuild and restore the facility, and be able to open the doors to a new cinema arts center free of debt for the community to enjoy for many years to come,” the statement concluded.

April Gornik, the partnership's vice president, said the organization needs more funding to accomplish its goals.

“We’re glad that our interests are aligned with the town since it recognizes the importance of the preservation and use of the building for Sag Harbor,” Ms. Gornik said in an email on Monday.

Since purchasing the property in 2017, the partnership has raised approximately $2 million, according to Ms. Gornik, though she could not say how much the $4 million from the town would advance the group’s efforts.

In fact, she added that the group is still in the process of working on a final assessment of salaries, programming, equipment and maintenance costs that would be needed to open and run the cinema.

A public hearing regarding the spending of the $4 million of CPF money for the development rights of the cinema will take place at 6 p.m. on October 23 at Southampton Town Hall.

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I fully endorse this measure.( If that matters..LOL). I think the covenants being sought by the CPF are reasonable. I would suggest that a town board member always have seat on the Sag Harbor Partnership's board.

Anecdotally, I've heard from people involved in the local Non-Profit community that the Partnerships fundraising has squeezed many out as donors shifted a lot of their gifting to the theater. This grant will help alleviate the impact of this fund raising on these other non-profits.

Additionally, ...more
By V.Tomanoku (660), southampton on Oct 3, 18 9:43 AM
Guess I haven’t been following matters closely enough. To me, the Community Preservation Fund was instituted to purchase and preserve open space. Then, there was some dispute over farm structures which was (correctly, I think) resolved to allow structures necessary to the activity of farming.

Then, there was a move to allow some CPF money to be spent on water quality measures. Legislation was passed (again, wisely IMO) to permit the expenditure of up to 20% of these moneys for this ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 3, 18 10:49 AM
Sounds like they want to empty the piggy bank before he leaves. CPF funds were for open space.
Just like Congress stealing from social security,,,
By knitter (1483), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 10:54 AM
Sounds like they want to empty the piggy bank before he leaves. CPF funds were for open space.
Just like Congress stealing from social security,,,
By knitter (1483), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 10:55 AM
Guess who’s looking for Sag Harbor votes?
By A Great American (51), East Quogue on Oct 3, 18 12:21 PM
No! No! No! As much as I would love to see the theater restored, this sets a dangerous precedent to use this fund for any reason deemed worthy by politicians. If we would like a commercial redevelopment fund then offer a resolution for another transfer tax and put it to a vote
By wmh (8), WaterMill on Oct 3, 18 1:19 PM
4 members liked this comment
Huge mistake. What a waste of funds that were intended to preserve open space.
By patriot50 (37), sag harbor on Oct 3, 18 3:35 PM
4 members liked this comment
This is a personal email to Assemblyman Thiele,
he following is not a position for any organizations I am part of.

Below is a link to a SH Press Article I wanted to bring to your attention based on prior conversations of Politicians re-defining the purpose and use of CPF funding. Like in DC, open funds are always a free-for-all to whomever has enough gumption to push the line further than predecessors to make “whey” for feel good political programs and campaign worthy ...more
By Greg Celi, EQVEC (5), East Quogue on Oct 3, 18 4:27 PM
3 members liked this comment
NO F'ING WAY!!! This is wrong on a couple of levels, firstly it's a VILLAGE property, not appropriate , also the CPF is not for this type of project. I repeat , NO F'IN WAY!!!
By bigfresh (3752), north sea on Oct 3, 18 5:50 PM
Ready.... Action! Now the Town Board is in the movie business.
By lirider (243), Hampton Bays on Oct 3, 18 9:11 PM
Marinas golf courses, restaurants, now a movie theater? come on now
By chief1 (2534), southampton on Oct 4, 18 12:04 AM
3 members liked this comment
For almost 30 years advocates for improving the infrastructure in Southampton for safe bicycle paths throughout all the towns and nothing gets done beyond superficial lip service from local officials due to lack of funding. The CPF can be used to create linear parks along the LIPA and LIRR right of ways for multi-use hiking and biking along the many miles of underutilized existing paths along the power lines and railroad tracks between towns. And also create an alternative transportation network ...more
By Non-Political (73), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 18 7:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
great idea to control the ticket prices
By deKooning (88), southampton on Oct 4, 18 11:29 AM
Possibly well intentioned, but incredibly misguided. As other have said, the CPF is for preserving open space, not for funding whatever project some politician thinks will buy votes. If the people of the Town of Southampton are being asked to pay to preserve the Sag Harbor Cinema, we should be allowed to vote on it. And if we vote yes, we should have our taxes raised to fund it, or better yet, we should tell the town officials to cut something else.
By rpd (4), Southampton on Oct 4, 18 12:45 PM
2 members liked this comment
This is just a continuation of the slippery slope.
The systematic looting of CPF started under ATH and has just accelerated ever since.
By bird (730), Sag Harbor on Oct 4, 18 1:09 PM
Turns out I was wrong. My post above, Oct. 3, 10:45 AM, complains about the use of CPF funds to purchase the site of a movie house in Sag Harbor, suggesting that this contravenes the CPF’s purpose of acquiring open space.

Not so. I’ve learned the legislation states that the fund’s purpose is to implement plans and make acquisitions “for the preservation of community character.” That language includes open space purchases, but certainly isn’t limited ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Oct 4, 18 9:49 PM
If CPF were to prioritize its future investments, I trust the Sag Harbor movie theatre would be at the bottom of the list. Sag Harbor thrives year ‘round with or without the movie theatre. It’s community character is well preserved and it’s movie theatre should be a Sag Harbor community project or privately owned (Ted Conklin).
We have a movie theatre in Westhampton that you would not want to be in when the lights are on. We also have the WHPAC, supported by donations and ...more
By RANGER66 (12), WESTHAMPTON BEACH on Oct 5, 18 7:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Fred wants to make his Sag Harbor voters happy?
By bb (803), Hampton Bays on Oct 13, 18 6:19 PM
Such a terrible idea.
- not an open space
- people are going to theaters less and less every day - will be a wasted property on main st.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (570), southampton on Oct 5, 18 10:02 AM
4 million could be much better used for drainage or other things to save groundwater. A bad precedent and a political vote getting scheme
By chief1 (2534), southampton on Oct 8, 18 2:26 PM
Sag Harbor has more than enough "community character".This is a ridiculously large amount of public money. Not mentioned is probably big tax breaks too. If you follow the money, you'd probably get sick. The park at proposed Tuckahoe Center was a gift to the developer who will probably get big tax breaks for his senior living community. I was unaware that citizens we're clamering for a park next to a main road with few residents adjacent to the park. Ba humbug, misspending our money.
By TheTurtle (129), Southampton on Oct 11, 18 3:44 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (661), bridgehampton on Oct 13, 18 6:39 PM