A Masquerade - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1784675

A Masquerade

I do not know who “Protect Sag Harbor” is, but a full-page ad in the newspaper with the headline “Save Sag Harbor” in red lettering startled me. Save Sag Harbor, the organization, is an important voice in keeping citizens in, and beyond, the village informed of events and issues. It has never been used as a political hatchet. But this ad is a hatchet job.

I’d like to know who Protect Sag Harbor really is.

The ad labels the Bialsky buildings as “Larocca Towers” and states as fact that Trustee Jim Larocca was “instrumental in negotiating the deal” allowing for the 50-foot condos. This is twisting the truth and is false.

The deal Jim Larocca negotiated was for Steinbeck Park — period. Before he joined the Village Board, between six to eight condominiums were in process to be built on the park site. As a village, we had nothing but praise for his efforts in saving the last bit of waterfront still available for public use.

For those who might not remember, a major portion of the park property was lost to a developer who outbid the village when it went up for sale by the MTA in 2010. The height of the outsized buildings now under construction on West Water Street was enabled by a determination of the former village building inspector. Jim Larocca had nothing to do with that decision. This view was supported by the village attorney. Jim Larocca was no part of it.

I was acting as interim chair for the Zoning Board of Appeals, and this was my second meeting. The only ZBA member who opposed the building was Trustee Robert Plumb. The vote was 4-1.

The design of this building was approved by the architectural review board, the setbacks by the Harbor Committee, and the site plan by the Planning Board. It went through all the regulatory village boards. Trustee Larocca was not a member of any of these boards.

I don’t like Jay Bialsky’s condos, and I wish the boards had the tools that Randy Croxton used to illustrate the impacts on streetscape, presented at the last Village Board work session, but we didn’t. Public sentiment was overwhelmingly positive toward Steinbeck Park. We understood the compromise at the time. The reality of that decision is literally looming over us.

So, whoever you are, “Protect Sag Harbor,” stop blaming Mr. Larocca for the condominiums on West Water Street — and as an original officer of Save Sag Harbor, please don’t masquerade or convolute your misinformation with that organization.

I, for one, am sick of lies being fed to the public and sold as facts.

Robert Stein

Sag Harbor

Mr. Stein is a former member of the Sag Harbor Village Board — Ed.