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Oct 24, 2018 11:03 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Approves Sag Harbor Cinema Development Rights Purchase

April Gornik
Oct 24, 2018 11:03 AM

Southampton Town Board members on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to use $4 million of Community Preservation Fund revenue to obtain the development rights of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center property to assist with the building’s reconstruction and prevent the property from becoming something other than a theater in the future.

And while the room was filled with many supporters of the theater’s restoration, not everyone was in favor of using CPF money to preserve the theater.

In fact, Robert Anrig, chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Fund Advisory Committee, told board members he did not think it was an appropriate use of the money, and that it would set a dangerous precedent going forward.

But the handful of people who spoke against using CPF money to purchase the development rights on the property to support the theater project were far outnumbered by those who spoke in favor of the deal—including April Gornik, the president of the Sag Harbor Partnership, which has been raising money to rebuild the historic building that was ravaged by fire in December 2016.

Ms. Gornik and members of her team were on hand at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting to boast about the many plans coming to the theater, including the addition of virtual reality and affordable movie tickets, which she said will cost no more than 80 percent of what the average ticket costs in other theaters on the East End. According to Susan Mead, the treasurer of the Sag Harbor Partnership, people can expect the tickets to cost less than $10.

The biggest thing that was discussed on Tuesday night was preservation.

By purchasing the development rights, the town would be able to regulate what can and can't be built on the property. The move would provide protection to the historic landmark to ensure its continued operation as a theater, as well as preserving its aesthetic appeal to Sag Harbor, where it has been a centerpiece of the Main Street business district for decades, and the Town of Southampton.

The deal is also intended to prevent retail stores from being constructed at the site in the future.

“I wholeheartedly support this,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said on Tuesday. “We probably don’t spend enough on historic preservation.”

Town Board member Tommy John Schiavoni echoed the supervisor’s support, saying he went to the Sag Harbor Theater when he was a kid, and has taken his kids to that theater as well.

When it came time for a vote, the board members all voted in favor of the measure—and the room erupted into cheers.

“I think it’s a perfectly suitable use,” Town Board member Christine Scalera said.

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Southampton Town Board members unanimously agreed to use $4 million of Community Preservation Fund (CPF) to obtain the development rights . What does this mean, rights and Southampton town is on the hook now?

This fund along with SHTB is funky, odd and strange. This has to do more with getting votes from those and for those, west of canal.

The Chair of the CPF advisory said it was dangerous. The fund should be used for open spaces or used to make way for open space. Restore, not ...more
By Hamptonsway (102), Southampton on Oct 24, 18 1:33 PM
SHTB will always be about the political agenda.

This will cost us more than just CPF to run. In a few years it will be an accounting and management mess. Better than a Three Stooges Showing or Dumber and Dumber double header.

We are seeing many projects not been fully vetted or have a complete plan from end to end. SHTB strikes again as they kick the can down the road for the next poor slob to deal with and oversee.

CPF from the start was always about open spaces. ...more
By ZGerry (43), Hamptons on Oct 24, 18 7:51 PM
3 members liked this comment
Mr Anrig, I agree with you about CPF funds. This board is changing what we voted on years ago.
They are getting like the TRUSTees, we can do what we want.
BAD BAD precedence...
By knitter (1908), Southampton on Oct 24, 18 1:43 PM
I disagree with both of you. The "Community" Preservation Fund always had as one of its goals to protect the history and heritage of the East End. It was never just about open space. There have been numerous projects that have been able to utilize CPF funds in the pursuit of preservation. In the Town of Southampton, that normally happens via an easement purchase, which is what the Sag Harbor group did. You could argue the details that the theatre had burned down, but I think the average person would ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Oct 24, 18 2:04 PM
As stated by Mary Wilson from CPF many times, CPF properties are not allowed to make money. How do you have a theater on CPF property if it can't make money? Same as the putt putt golf and marina. It makes no sense.

How many other proposed projects were disallowed because they were too expensive. MANY! Yet now they are buying this, they want to buy the development rights to a motel in Hampton Bays and when the owner of the property where the bones were found wanted more than fair ...more
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 18 4:56 PM
Maybe now that this Theater that has attracted so much attention and is now taking money from a fund that many of us have been forced to contribute to will actually benefit the community. I live in Sag Harbor and have a daughter that went through the Sag Harbor Public School system. I have been to the Theater once in 25 years, and she has never been. It has been a business that has catered to the wealthy and summer visitors and offered little of interest to most of the locals---especially the ...more
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Oct 24, 18 2:33 PM
Still disagree with using CPF monies. The theater was never a money maker. used in the summer for bored or rainy day summer crowd.
When I voted for the CPF program it was stated for open spaces. Too many deals being done behind the public. Who is responsible for maintenance, up keep?
BAAD MOVE JAY, you got your votes in sag harbor now...
By knitter (1908), Southampton on Oct 24, 18 4:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
You mean the caretakers cottage that was said to purchased with CPF funds but wasn't and instead of being sold to the family that lived in it for over 20 years, now sits rotting? Mary Wilson was not honest with that purchase either! The entire camp is now in decline and inhabited by kids and vandals. A horrible shame. AGAIN! Now the town wants to sell the cottage...........probably planned for a while.
By Cercis (6), hampton bays on Oct 24, 18 7:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is an absolute disgrace. Perfectly good home, is now a complete dump and eyesore.

Hey lets use the tax dollar to fix it up, now that we allowed it to rot.
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Oct 26, 18 5:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
They purchased the development rights? Isn't it already developed? Its a building not vacant land!
By C Law (351), Water Mill on Oct 25, 18 12:04 PM
This really is an abuse of CPF intent and its funds. But since the cookie jar is now open, I submit as a patron of both the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and Starr Boggs Restaurant that Supervisor Schneiderman and the Town Board begin negotiations immediately to purchase the development rights to the WHBPAC ($5mm) and Starr Boggs Restaurant ($4mm). Starr Boggs could then lower their prices to no more than 80% of neighboring restaurant prices.

To approve this and cite "historic ...more
By circaWHB (9), Westhampton Beach on Oct 25, 18 1:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Serious question: In the era of Netflix, if they can't cover annual operating costs as a theater selling movie tickets at a discounted rate what happens? Does it sit vacant or does the Town make up the difference for the operating costs?
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Oct 25, 18 2:18 PM
I'd like to hear the town board's answer to that. Do you think they have one?
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Oct 26, 18 5:03 PM
Yes they do have an answer, and it is on easy one. You.

Pay up and shut up. The same answer for the Life Saving Station, Lobster Inn and now Sag Movie.
By Hamptonsway (102), Southampton on Oct 30, 18 7:47 PM
Another one of JAY'S FOLLIES, going out with a spending spree.Julie, buying the motel to resell it is bad, real bad. What next buy a marina, dress shop or bar?
I thought the Board was there to serve the public...
By knitter (1908), Southampton on Oct 31, 18 2:53 PM