Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf to Get a Facelift

Pictured Above: Landscape Designer Edmund Hollander’s rendering of the proposed revitalization of Long Wharf

Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf is expected to get a facelift this fall, with more space for the public to gather at the end of the wharf, and new safety fencing around its perimeter.

The project is likely to begin just after Sag Harbor’s annual HarborFest celebration the second week in September and be completed by June of next year, according to new Sag Harbor Village Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy.

The village took ownership of the wharf, which had previously been owned by Suffolk County, in 2013, and was awarded a $550,000 New York State Empire State Economic Development Fund grant for the project in 2017. The village applied for another $2.5 million state economic revitalization grant last year, which was rejected, and is currently preparing a new grant application through that program.

The end of the pier as it looks today

The village board voted in June of this year to float a $4 million bond to pay for much of the $4.32 million project, which will be built by the Westhampton Beach firm of Chesterfield Associates.

The sturdy wharf is filled most summer days with a steady stream of car traffic and tourists taking in the view and shopping at the stores lining its eastern edge, or lined up in front of The Dock House for fresh fish take-out. But the asphalt edges of the roadway, which serves as a pedestrian walkway and is surrounded by steel sheathing, are often crumbling, and there is currently no safety barrier between the pedestrian walkway around the wharf’s edge. A man from New Jersey died in November of 2011 after falling off the end of the wharf.

This plan, drafted by P.W. Grosser Consulting, Inc., is designed to dramatically improve the safety of the pedestrian access, installing new steel bulkheading a foot-and-a-half seaward of the current edge of the wharf, which will be topped by an eight-foot-wide pedestrian boardwalk leading to a viewing area at the end of the pier. A wooden barrier would still separate the cars from the pedestrian boardwalk. 

The boardwalk is slated in the future to continue under the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge and connect with a 2.75-acre park just south of the bridge honoring onetime Sag Harbor resident and Nobel-winning novelist John Steinbeck.

The 1908 train wreck at Long Wharf

Long Wharf was originally built in 1771 just to the west of its current location, not long before Sag Harbor became New York’s first official port of entry in 1789. 

The wharf was rebuilt and extended at its current location in 1821 in order to accommodate whaling ships. A rail spur from Bridgehampton also once extended down the wharf, where an engine backing two coal cars famously plunged into the harbor in July of 1908.

“At the spot where the wreck occurred, the cars are backed down on the pier every noon to meet passengers landing from the steamer Nantucket, and also on Sundays to take aboard Block Island excursionists,” according to a July 28, 1908 article in the Brooklyn Times about the wreck. “Had the accident occurred Sunday evening last, when several hundred excursionists boarded the train at the place where the tracks collapsed, many would likely have been killed or seriously injured.

During this year’s construction, vehicular access to Long Wharf will be blocked, but the sidewalk adjacent to the shops at the eastern edge of the wharf will be open, and the shops will be open for business.

— Beth Young

Beth Young

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at [email protected]

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