This reflection is prompted by the recent news reports concerning the efforts of the Schiavoni family to rebuild their modest store on Long Island Avenue [“Judge Orders Halt to Work at Schiavoni Property in Sag Harbor,” 27east.com, November 16].
Unless we are among a very few Native Americans, all of us living in Sag Harbor “came from away,” in the vernacular of the recent Broadway hit. We may have come early enough to have participated in the Revolution of 1776 and had forbears interred in the Old Burying Ground at Madison and Union streets, or we may be 21st century immigrants from Central America.
Our grandparents and great-grandparents may have had a host of different motivations to leave home and find their way to this little village. They may have fled economic privation, political oppression or religious persecution, or simply wanted to earn enough income to raise and support a family.
They may have wanted to farm — we once had dairy farms on Glover Street and southern Division Street. They may have been drawn to the seafaring trade that flourished in the mid-19th century or the factories that were established a half century later.
And those who were already here, for the most part, welcomed them. I am thankful to have grown up in a village that was remarkably free of racial, ethnic, religious or political bias.
I am well into my 70s and, except for a couple of years, I’ve lived here for all my days, as did my mother and my grandmother.
What I am seeing now in the village of my forefathers and foremothers disturbs me greatly. Some of the folks who have most recently come from away appear to view Sag Harbor not as a place to be savored for what it is but as raw material to be transformed into something else altogether. I am seeing my village go from a home to an “economic opportunity” to be exploited by whoever has the deepest pockets.
I welcomed transformation of the long-deserted Bulova watchcase factory into condominiums. But at the same time I see a waterfront village whose views of the water have been progressively eroded away. I see less and less desire to preserve historic homes and more impetus to expand them out of all recognition. I see efforts to aggregate parcels, sacrificing the existing buildings, homes and small businesses, to create yet another megalith.
Perhaps this is progress, the “wave of the future.” But it seems to me that we are destroying the very attributes and values that made Sag Harbor attractive to so many of us who, early or late, came from away.
My only consolation is that I am so close to the end of my days that I won’t see it to its ultimate fruition.
One fine body…