Sag Harbor election eyes development plans

Scene along Main St. in Sag Harbor with Scene along Main St. in Sag Harbor with the American Hotel in the background. Photo Credit: J. Michael Dombrowski

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Change comes slowly to historic Sag Harbor, which boasts the first customs house in New York State, built in 1765.

Then came last year. And Sag Harbor will never look the same again.

Work has started on doubling the size of the community library, the long-shuttered Bulova Watchcase Factory is covered in plastic as a two-year renovation turns it into 49 luxury condominiums with a health center and underground parking garage, and the village board recently gave approval to an experimental summer ferry service to Greenport.

All of which has turned village politics on its head. Candidates no longer talk about keeping the village the way it always has been. Now, they talk about controlling new growth and working to guide inevitable future development so Sag Harbor "remains Sag Harbor."

Incumbent board members Robert Stein, 64, a child psychologist running on the Windmill Party line, and Bruce Stafford Sr., 54, who owns a landscaping business and is on the Sag Harbor Party line, said their experience and proven ability to work as a team show they should be re-elected to continue dealing with new challenges as the economy improves and more people seek to do more things in the village. Two of four trustee seats are up for grabs.

Deciding what not to do is just as important to the current village board as taking action, they said, and many decisions involve work few people ever get to see.

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"We worked for six months reviewing health insurance for the village," Stein said. "People came in, we looked at what we had to insure and not overspend . . . We got the best plan possible and stayed within our budget."

But Kevin J. Duchemin, who is running on the People's Unity Party line, said it's time to put someone new on the village board. He says the board is not doing anything at all about what may be Sag Harbor's biggest problem -- affordable housing for young people and the elderly.

"I'm proud to say I live in the village. It's an outstanding community," said Duchemin, 44, an East Hampton Village police sergeant. "But it's no secret there are a few things that need to be addressed . . . There's nothing affordable around Sag Harbor."

Duchemin has an apartment above the garage of his home that he tried to register with the village in 2010 -- one of the first few people to make such an application. "They wanted more paperwork and more paperwork . . . Finally, I just got frustrated and let it go."

Voting will be on June 19 from noon to 9 p.m. in the fire house on Brick Kiln Road.

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