Sag Harbor Village’s longstanding goal of redeveloping a blighted property as the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park took a giant leap forward this week when the village announced that Southampton Town had agreed to buy the parcel using money from its Community Preservation Fund.
The town will pay developer Jay Bialsky of Sagaponack $10.5 million for the 1.25-acre parcel formerly known as 1,3,5 Ferry Road. He will retain a 0.70-acre portion at the site of the former 1-800-LAWYER building on West Water Street, which he plans to develop with three townhouses, a sharp reduction in the 13 units previously proposed.
“We are absolutely thrilled beyond words,” said Mayor Sandra Schroeder in a release. “This acquisition will transform the last remaining open space on the harbor into a world-class park that will be a serene, peaceful setting for our residents and visitors alike to enjoy one of the most beautiful harbors in the world in the heart of the village.”
Bialsky recently purchased the property from Greystone Development, which had proposed a 13-unit condo development. Greystone had reached a verbal agreement to sell the 1.25-acre portion of the site to the town, but it never signed a contract, instead selling the entire parcel to Bialsky.
The area envisioned for the Steinbeck park is nestled between the 7-Eleven and the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge and includes a portion of waterfront behind the old Remkus fishing station.
For several years, the village has been discussing the idea of transforming the property into a new park, with an amphitheater, waterfront path, and other amenities. The landscape architect Edmund Hollander, who is a part-time village resident, has submitted sketch plans for the project on a pro bono basis. The new park will link the Ferry Road property to Windmill Park and Long Wharf, which the village plans to renovate and make more pedestrian-friendly.
“We are very, very pleased that Mr. Bialsky has accepted our offer for the Ferry Road property,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “This will play a vital role in the continuing revitalization efforts that the village and its residents are making to protect and preserve Sag Harbor’s unique cultural heritage and special historic character.”
“My wife and I are delighted beyond measure that the Ferry Road property will be designated as a public waterfront park for all to enjoy, and we look forward to being part of this vibrant and very special community,” said Bialsky.
Bialsky’s building plans were developed in collaboration with architects Dave and Dawn Harvey of Sag Harbor and John Sofio of Los Angeles.