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LI pols seek disaster designation for Sag Harbor after fire

Sag Harbor residents held a candlelight gathering Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2016, to mourn the loss of the iconic Sag Harbor Cinema, along with other businesses destroyed by fire on Dec. 16, 2016. They also praised firefighters and celebrated the fact that no one was injured in the fire. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Two state legislators are urging the governor to make a special disaster designation for Sag Harbor Village so that business owners affected by Main Street’s Dec. 16 12-alarm fire can be eligible for federal Small Business Administration low-interest loans.

A Dec. 23 letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released Tuesday by Assemb. Fred W. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and State Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) opens by detailing the fire that they said caused at least 50 businesses on Main Street to suffer “a direct financial loss” because of street closures, the elimination of parking spaces and “blocked access during one of the busiest times of the year.”

The letter noted that because Sag Harbor only has about 2,200 residents, “The economic disruption caused by the fire has a much broader and more crippling impact than the direct damage of the fire.” The Sag Harbor Village District is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains most of the village’s retail establishments, the letter continued.

The blaze — which caused significant fire, smoke and water damage to five buildings, seven businesses and four apartments and resulted in the razing of the iconic Sag Harbor Cinema — will have a negative economic impact on the area through the summer’s busy tourist season, Thiele said.

Late Tuesday, Kristin Devoe, director of public information for the Albany-based Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, issued a statement saying the division “has been in close contact” with county and village officials “regarding any assistance that may be available” to residents and businesses affected, including help through the Small Business Administration.”

Devoe said the SBA’s threshold for physical disaster loans is at least 25 businesses and/or homes with 40 percent or more uninsured losses.

Thiele and LaValle asked Cuomo to “formally” request the special disaster designation so that local business owners can apply for the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Recovery program “to help them get back on their feet.”

The cause of the early morning fire and its origin remains under investigation. There were no injuries.

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