Suburban Solution - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1782313

Suburban Solution

I looked with interest at Jim Larocca’s proposal for a waterfront park as laid out in his ad for mayor, with the headline: “We can dream, can’t we.”

While a park is irrefutably a nice thing to have, this plan is, in my opinion, too much of a good thing.

Sag Harbor is a small village, but with a unique urban density. It is defined primarily by its architecture, and less so by its open spaces. Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg did a bold thing in creating a new park on the Hudson River, adding much needed green space to downtown New York. I would argue that too much additional green space in Sag Harbor is neither needed nor necessarily appropriate.

When Sag Harbor was recognized as a National Register Historic District in 1972, its commercial downtown was cited for its unique plan comprised of a streetscape with a certain regularity and consistency. To lose this architectural framing to open land threatens to turn our urban density into something more suburban.

And, let us not forget, we are blessed to be surrounded by nature everywhere we look. Not only do we have other parks in the village, we have the under-utilized Cilli Farm, Havens Beach and Long Beach, our waterways, the Long Pond Greenbelt, and our tree-lined residential streets.

That said, I would most definitely support the purchase of 2 Main Street, if possible, as the elimination of that building (and the rectifying of a poor decision in the 1980s, when it was offered to the village) would open spectacular vistas from as far south as the Municipal Building and beyond, creating a wonderful and appropriate visual connection between our commercial downtown and the water, upon which our whole history as a village is based.

The waterfront used to be our industrial center, with its whaling ships, blubber rendering, rope factories and even torpedoes. Culture — the making of art, whether visual or performance — seems to be our next industry in Sag Harbor.

An appropriately placed and scaled Bay Street Theater framing the end of Main Street would complete the triumvirate of the glorious renovation of The Church and the Sag Harbor Cinema. It would align with the great tradition of civic buildings in parks: Think of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the Fenway. And with the inclusion of 2 Main Street as open land, it would be perfectly cradled within the setting of a park.

A large park with no relation to the function and architecture of the village doesn’t do a thing to preserve the character, scale and historical authenticity of our village. It is a suburban solution that will erode our urban plan.

Bob Weinstein

Sag Harbor