Destroying A Village - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1769608

Destroying A Village

The headline for the story last week about the Bay Street Theater’s new plans [“Bay Street Theater Unveils A Plan That Would Transform Waterfront,”, April 6] might have been: “How to Destroy the Downtown of a Village.”

What is proposed is a barn-like structure of approximately 17,000 square feet (the exact square footage was not made public as far as I can tell) across the street from the Post Office and abutting the massive Bialsky Towers, suitable for sultans. That is, if the mogul with bottomless pockets doesn’t manage to buy the Post Office and raze it along with the 7-Eleven structure, as well as 2 Main Street, known in the village as Fort Greed, but now the home of a popular restaurant, a take-out food emporium, an ice cream parlor, and another retail space that all pay taxes — and bring people downtown.

Small villages like ours thrive because they have a commercial center where people come to shop, drink, eat, mingle, gossip, and keep up with local life. Take away enough of the places where people spontaneously gather, and you destroy that. Yet that is exactly what the structure being proposed for Bay Street will do. Yes, performers will have better dressing rooms and plenty of space to stretch out, but the communal cost to the residents, to the very vibrancy of our village, is far too great.

It’s as if the developer of the Hudson Yards in Manhattan looked around for a place to park more of his money, and settled on our now-hip and hot village, and went right downtown to grab land. He or she has already outbid the village for rights to the parking lot next to the Post Office and has bought other nearby properties. Expect an earth mover to flatten any other small building in their way.

Stopping Mr. Moneybags and his grand plans falls directly on the shoulders of the 10 volunteers on the two boards — the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Previously, at least the men and women who were held responsible for any structure over 4,000 square feet were elected officials.

Soon after being installed, the previous administration removed this troublesome task — perhaps the most controversial and contentious of all the decisions village government faces — from their own worksheets, and dumped it on the volunteer boards. That is how the Bialsky houses were approved — by 10 volunteers. As the former chair of the village zoning board, I know firsthand how much pressure comes to bear on these boards.

Input from the board members should be solicited, but the final decision for any large structure should come — must come — from elected officials.

Lorraine Dusky

Sag Harbor


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