Praise from England, France, China, Russia and Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor Windmill
Sag Harbor Windmill, Photo: Oliver Peterson

If you want to read what was happening years ago in Dan’s Papers, you might want to sample the New York State Historic Newspapers site at, where, by the end of this month, the first 20 years of Dan’s Papers will be online and searchable. You can find out more about Dwight Eisenhower or the Kennedy Assassination. You can read about Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones coming to Montauk. Find out when Marilyn Monroe summered in Amagansett.

I mention this because I think we are approaching the time when the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees rises up to take a stand about international affairs. They do it about every 20 years. I have found documentation for it online from the years 1999 and 1981.

Normally, the trustees concern themselves with little pitty-pat things such as dormer requirements and school budgets, the number of chairs allowed in restaurants or the parking hours in certain lots. There was an extreme example of this just this past summer.

A woman named Sara Colleton owns a house in the historic district, on Garden Street. The houses in the district are small, historic and charming, and the one she’d bought was so small and charming that she decided to overlook the fact that the ceiling in the master bedroom was so low she couldn’t stand up straight in it. She wanted to fix this. She hired an architect to design a two-story addition, according to the Sag Harbor Express, but soon there were discussions about a height-and-a-half really being two heights, so her architect and she huddled and came back again with something that might be seen as less obtrusive. Over eight months, she came back four times with plans for ever smaller additions and finally, this last week, they seem to have worked something out where the living room can become the master bedroom and a small addition in the back could become a living room. The new addition would no longer require 4,400 cubic feet, but just 1,458 cubic feet—not square feet, cubic feet—and a straw vote, it was reported, showed that it would squeak through 3 to 2.

Now also coming in is the application from William Egan, also on Garden Street, who wants to put a swimming pool in the front yard. The lot is so small it would take all sorts of zoning variances to allow it in the backyard where a swimming pool ordinarily goes, but in the front he believes it could obey the rules, Mr. Egan’s lawyer said. Some residents are looking askance at this. Driving by you’d see a swimming pool (which could be blocked by hedgerows if it came to that). One person opined that swimming pools were not all the rage when the historic district was built in the 18th and 19th century and he thought it unseemly. Things are heating up.

In 1982, the Trustees of Sag Harbor voted unanimously to congratulate President Reagan and Premiere Gorbachev of the Soviet Union for the joint declaration on disarmament after their meeting in Iceland. Sag Harbor joined England and West Germany and South Africa in heaping praise on the two men. I believe the Sag Harbor proclamation was signed by Mayor Butz, who was in office around that time. Way to go, Sag Harbor!

In 1999, the Village of Sag Harbor declared themselves a nuclear-free community. They would handle all situations without resorting to nuclear weapons. It would even be illegal to transport nuclear weapons through the town, unless a permit got approved more than 96 hours in advance of the transgression. Government officials in North Haven and Noyac took note.

Wait. I just found another Sag Harbor international proclamation. In 1990, they joined with a United Nations proclamation condemning Iraq’s attack on Kuwait. And then, a year later, they joined with many other countries in condemning Serbia’s attack on Croatia.

So watch for it. Sometime soon, Sag Harbor will pop its cork, look out into the world and exhort some profundity about international affairs. Maybe even turn it into a proclamation. They’re about ripe.

By the way, the ban on nuclear weapons within the village prohibited the design, deployment, construction, launch, maintenance or storage of such things. I wonder if it is still on the books. Look out, Kim Jong-un.

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