Sag Harbor’s dream of preserving the waterfront adjacent to its iconic bridge became reality this week, after Southampton Town and developer Jay Bialsky reached a $10.5 million agreement to use Community Preservation Fund funds to acquire more than an acre from Mr. Bialsky for the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park.
The Nobel Prize-winning prolific author of “The Grapes of Wrath,” “East of Eden,” “Cannery Row” and “The Winter of Our Discontent” spent his later years in Sag Harbor, where he became an ingrained part of the community in the late 1950s and 1960s.
The property, just south of the Jordan Haerter Memorial Bridge and the former home of a medical office complex, had been slated for redevelopment as a controversial condominium complex for nearly a decade.
This would be the first major new park in Sag Harbor in more than a century.
The new park will be linked by land and water to the existing Windmill Park and historic Long Wharf, saving the property from condominium development and creating a continuous park, beach, and green space. The new park is being designed by landscape architect Ed Hollander, a Sag Harbor resident who has been part of the community for more than 30 years.
“We are absolutely thrilled beyond words,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor Sandra Schroeder, of the project, which has been in negotiations for more than two years. “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 to enjoy one of the most beautiful harbors in the world in the heart of the village. We are deeply grateful to Mary Wilson and the CPF, and to Southampton Town, led by Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and his Town Council colleagues, for authorizing this acquisition, and to Jay Bialsky, who acquired the property just months ago but who wasted no time sitting down with us to make this happen.”
The 1.25 acre park property represents the bulk of the property at 1,3,5 Ferry Road, which is part of a total 1.94 acre piece acquired by Mr. Bialsky from Greystone Development, according to a press release issued May 24 by Mr. Bialsky, who will keep seven tenths of an acre with the existing building at 2 West Water Street, west of the new parkland. He plans to build three townhouses with boat slips on the remaining parcel, in contrast to the 13 or 14 condominium units and boat slips that had been proposed by previous owners.
“The new plans for the 2 West Water portion of the property will have significantly less environmental impact than the previous applications,” said Mr. Bialsky’s attorney, Brian DeSesa of the Adam Miller Group.
“My wife and I are very excited 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 community,” said Mr. Bialsky.
Mr. Bialsky’s building plans were developed in collaboration with local architects Dave and Dawn Harvey, and John M. Sofio of Los Angeles. Two of the new residences will feature a breezeway that visually separates two of the town homes. The third town home will be set back from the road.