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Mar 4, 2016 4:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor Village Board Releases Plans For Proposed Waterfront Park

Plans for the proposed John Steinbeck Park in Sag Harbor were released on Friday.
Mar 9, 2016 10:14 AM

The Sag Harbor Village Board last week unveiled plans for a proposed park on one of the last undeveloped waterfronts in the municipality’s business district—even though the current owners of the property so far have been unwilling to sell.

The properties, which are located at 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road, as well as 2 West Water Street, currently have luxury condominiums planned for them. The development project is being headed by Greystone Property Development and East End Ventures, both of New York City. Both companies own the Ferry Road properties; only East End Ventures owns the West Water Street property.

Nevertheless, village officials say they are hopeful that a plan to obtain the properties and turn them into a larger park will still materialize—and they continue to explore the option of forcing a sale, arguing that it would be in the public interest.

The lots in question are adjacent to a roughly 1-acre triangular lot, just south of the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, that the village already owns and had planned to transform into a smaller waterfront park.

Landscape Architect Edmund Hollander designed the plans for the new park, called the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, which he presented to the village board and the community at a board meeting on Tuesday night. It would include two beaches, a boat pier, trails, restrooms, a public plaza, parking spaces and a children’s playground, among other amenities.

“It is the importance of it, in terms of its potential recreational use and its ecological buffering from the wetland, that make it valuable,” Mr. Hollander said on Monday of the plan for the park. “It is kind of the first of a bigger picture planned of improving water quality in Sag Harbor Cove.”

Existing eelgrass and oyster beds would be restored as part of the effort, and the park would feature informational boards that identify different species of birds. “It is a park we want to design as part of the community,” Mr. Hollander said. He noted that students at the Sag Harbor School District and the public in general would be informed “as to the ecological benefits of an area like this.”

The Ferry Road parcels, which total about 1.3 acres themselves, were added last year to Southampton Town’s Community Preservation Fund list at the village’s request. However, the property owners have not been willing to sell.

In turn, the village has explored the option of eminent domain—condemning the property and taking it for public use, with compensation for the property owners—and recently hired attorney Saul Fenchel of Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy and Fenchel P.C. in Garden City to advise them on the condemnation process. The property at 2 West Water Street was just added to the list of parcels that would be condemned; previously, the village had been interested only in the Ferry Road properties.

Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. on Monday said the possibility of condemnation is still being “actively evaluated,” although the village has not made any formal moves in the process besides getting appraisals and surveys of the properties.

To condemn the properties, the village would need to establish that the park is a valid public purpose, Mr. Thiele said. “We are doing our due diligence—what would the park look like to show that it is a valid public purpose?” he said when asked why the plans were unveiled when the village has not secured the properties.

Mayor Sandra Schroeder echoed that sentiment and said the village still wants to move forward its plan for the park even though the property owners have not budged. “They are going ahead with their application at the Planning Board,” she said, referring to Greystone Development.

“It is really so important to so many people,” Mayor Schroeder said of the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park. “We are willing to go any route we can.”

Karen Marotta, the director of communications for Greystone, confirmed Tuesday that they are still moving forward with their plans for the condominiums.

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Looks great! So much better than condominiums.

BTW, The bridge is named for Lance Corporal Jordan C Haerter. (it's misspelled above)
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Mar 4, 16 6:31 PM
Thats a fantastic idea as there is not enough current space for a people to enjoy the waterfront. Most if it is parking spaces on the pier. It would be great if half the pier would be a park as well. Sag already has more condos than the market can absorb and how can the current sewage plant evan handle what you have much less adding more. The park is more in character. You also need to add more transient dock space. To much is booked over night leaving no where to come by boat, have a bite and leave. ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 5, 16 7:30 AM
The bridge is called the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge
By happywils (4), Sag Harbor on Mar 5, 16 8:35 AM
Beautiful! Sag Harbor will be the jewel in the crown of Eastern Long Island.
By dmm (7), sag harbor on Mar 6, 16 2:20 PM