Talk about dark money. Here comes an anonymous donor who apparently wants to buy up the Sag Harbor waterfront and build an enormous theater that will look like nothing else but a giant horse barn that belongs in one of the old potato fields south of the highway. It certainly looks like no other building in Sag Harbor.
And he claims, whoever he or she is, not to need parking because it’s already grandfathered in. Right. It’s opening night, let’s say, and the traffic is streaming into the village looking to park and Main Street is already full of cars visiting Sag Harbor’s many fine restaurants and at the new movie theater. All the lots will be full, and everybody who knows anything at all about Sag Harbor will know that grandfathered parking is pure myth, that every spot in the village will be jammed. Just like it is on Fireworks Day in July. Get real, whoever you are.
I’ve lived here 40 years this month. My wife and I got involved in local politics quickly when we helped elect a new mayor, George Butts, who asked me what I wanted, and I wanted a board of historic preservation and architectural review, and he agreed and I ran it for four years. Then, 30 or so years later, I ran it again at the request of Sandra Schroeder, the mayor before Kathleen Mulcahy.
So I know this place reasonably well, and what I’ve seen has been a steady decline as attacks are made on the village’s generally modest homes by people with money who come in and want a piece of the original charm and then destroy it by doubling the size of these little houses when they are allowed. It has not been easy to keep this village intact.
With Bialsky, I failed. When it became clear that my board, the ARB, was going to approve Bialsky’s application — the chair has to put his name to any approved application — I had no choice but to quit. I did not want my name to go on record anywhere in the village files as approving that application. Now we have the first two of Bialsky’s three houses, each one for sale for $20 million or so. Is everybody happy at the outcome?
Now this. If not a horse barn, a parking garage. This project is way too big for the 10 volunteers who man the zoning board and the ARB. This requires the new zoning code that is being considered. It then requires a vote of the entire community, or if not that, it requires a vote of the village trustees, who at least get elected, and paid, however nominally, for the responsibilities their jobs entail. That’s at the very least.
But the fact remains that if this thing goes up, Sag Harbor will become unlivable.
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One fine body…