New Year, New Projects On Sag Harbor Village Board Agenda

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Turning their sights toward a new year full of new challenges, Sag Harbor Village Board members took preliminary steps in December on three projects that they think are ripe for action in 2014.

Now that a long-term project at Havens Beach is finished and many Hurricane Sandy-induced headaches have been alleviated, board members are turning their attention to the next most pressing issues for the village. They include: repairing Long Wharf and the village-owned docks, installing a new elevator at the Municipal Building to open access to the top two floors, and creating a helipad at Havens Beach for emergencies.

The items were the only things on the agenda at a special meeting called last Thursday, December 19, during which board members decided to seek estimates and proposals for the work.

With two fellow board members missing, Trustees Ken O’Donnell and Robert Stein were encouraged by Mayor Brian Gilbride to treat last week’s gathering as an informal airing of ideas. The two trustees then went on to disagree with the mayor how to go about funding repairs to Long Wharf and the village docks, although all agreed that the work should be done in one fell swoop.

According to Dee Yardley, the village’s superintendent of public works, the wharf has “been settling over the years,” with a county dive team report noting that certain sections of it have small holes opening up.

“Every year it seems like we need to do some work on certain sections, and certain docks, and we haven’t done it for a few years now,” he said, adding that his crews have had to pave the edges of the wharf to keep the pier level.

The report did not specify a cost for the required repairs, as more inspection is necessary.

Mr. O’Donnell suggested that if it finances that work with a bond, the village could afford to pay for both the elevator and helipad with proceeds from its repair fund, which currently sits at around $1.2 million with an additional $300,000 expected in state refunds soon. “My thoughts are to bond the work [at Long Wharf and on the piers] and get them all done at once.”

“I agree,” Mr. Stein said. “Interest rates are so low right now, we should bond [the work]. I don’t want to piecemeal the project.”

Mr. O’Donnell emphasized the point, adding: “I’m with Robby in that I don’t want to piecemeal it. There is good debt and bad debt. I’m not talking putting this on a credit card—it is more like a mortgage.”

The mayor, however, was quick to shoot down that suggestion. “I don’t like to borrow money,” Mr. Gilbride said. “I’m a pay as you go guy.”

He later left the door open to the obvious—that the rest of the board could always overrule him when it comes up for a vote. “The biggest part is, we have to start moving and get something done. But I’m not afraid to lose that battle with you guys over the bonding,” he said.

Mr. Stein also backed off a tad, stating that they should not make any final decisions until they know how much the repairs will run. “Once we know the cost, then we can figure out how to pay for it,” he said.

He also wanted the board to start considering how they could generate revenue from the newly acquired property. “Right now the only income is from the boat docks,” he said. “There are things that the village does that are always going to be gratis, but there are also things the village can do to defer costs.”

Regarding the proposed elevator, which Mr. Gilbride said is needed to replace what he describes as a “lift,” the board members agreed that one is needed to open access to the third and fourth floors at the Municipal Building. However, they agreed that, at least for now, they would renovate only the third floor, leaving the fourth vacant.

Estimating that the elevator shaft extension will cost about $165,000 after using a $35,000 surplus in the village court budget, Mr. Gilbride said initial inquiries made it clear that extending access to both the third and fourth floors made the most economic sense since it would cost about the same just to add a single floor.

“We’re having trouble now with the lift,” he said. “It’ll take someone more courageous than me to do the work for a fourth floor renovation—it’d be in the millions of dollars. But we can move the building department up to the third floor and free up some room for the courts—possibly even get a rental office out of it.”

While the intent, according to the mayor, is to give the cramped building department employees “the footprint they need,” the expansion will also lead to a more productive court, he argued, with conference rooms on the second floor for mediation.

When it was decided that the elevator proposal would go out to bid, like every other project discussed, Mr. Stein reminded the other two trustees that, “Whatever price they give you, it is going to be more,” citing knowledge from his New York City friends.

In addition to those costs, Mr. Yardley reminded the board that the project would be three-fold, adding two floors of fire escapes and a $125,000 fire suppression unit on both the third and fourth floors. The board decided to seek a separate proposal for the extra work.

The last item on the docket, the proposed helipad, while deemed necessary, seemed to hold a little less gravitas with the trustees. They are still considering other options at the beach for a landing site, and discussing potential problems that a helipad might pose.

“It really is a nightmare when we have to shut down Noyac Road at Long Beach every time there is one of the routine head injuries,” Mr. Gilbride said. “Needless to say, Havens Beach would be a better spot for us.”

But the logistics were a little tougher, with a possible telephone pole disruption and the potential issue of having to constantly clear the paved pathway for the gurney from the road to the helipad following snowstorms.

Like the other projects, the pricing was vague, so they resolved to put out a request for proposals.

“Either way,” joked Mr. Gilbride, “Airborne Ed said twice that he would pay the difference, so it really won’t cost us anything,” referring to one of the absent trustees, Ed Deyermond, who has pushed for the helipad.

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