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Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. And Senator Kenneth LaValle Request Special Disaster Declaration For Village Of Sag Harbor

Nicole Barylski

The iconic Sag Harbor Cinema was demolished due to safety concerns - although the neon Sag Harbor sign was salvaged. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

After the devastating Main Street fire in Sag Harbor, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth LaValle have reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo to ask the U.S. Small Business Administration to designate the Village of Sag Harbor a special disaster declaration, which would greatly aid those recovering from the fire.

"As you are aware, on Friday, December 16, 2016, a terrible 12-alarm fire swept through the historic Village of Sag Harbor. Thanks to the excellent work of our brave police officers and firefighters, everyone was safely evacuated from the buildings and there were no physical injuries reported," said Thiele and Mr. LaValle in the letter to Governor Cuomo. "However, a significant number of Sag Harbor's homes, businesses, and cultural institutions were damaged or destroyed by the fire. We are writing today to respectfully ask that you formally request an SBA agency-level special disaster declaration."

The Assemblyman and Senator went on to describe the widespread damage. "In total, five buildings, home to seven businesses and four apartments suffered significant fire, smoke, and water damage. Two of those building have already been demolished due to extensive structural damage," they noted. "One of those demolished buildings was the beloved and iconic Sag Harbor Cinema, which has been a venue for shows and movies for more than a century. The cinema's large screen and eclectic slate of films from all over the world brought joy and culture to the Sag Harbor community and those who visited the region," the letter continues. "It was a unique, historic, and irreplaceable institution, and its loss in the fire has greatly saddened our entire community."

"At least 50 businesses on Main Street and Washington Street have suffered a direct financial loss due to the closure of streets, eliminated parking spaces, and blocked access during one of busiest times of the year. Parking still remains limited, even one week after the incident, due to ongoing demolition activities," they continued. "The owners of these small main street businesses are now facing the loss of their livelihoods for an indeterminate amount of time and an arduous recovery and rebuilding process that will affect the entire village."

They noted that the close-knit community was hit hard by the catastrophic event. "Sag Harbor only claims approximately 2,200 residents, so the economic disruption caused by the fire has a much broader and more crippling impact than the direct damage from the fire," LaValle and Thiele explained. "The damage to the Sag Harbor Village District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains most of the retail establishments in the village, will negatively impact tourism during the summer and cause further economic harm to the village. Given the limited resources for economic recovery and the fire's economic impact on a small, yet vibrant and historic community, we should do everything in our power to help these small business owners recover from their tragic loss."

"Given the limited resources for economic recovery and the fire's economic impact on a small, yet vibrant and historic community, we should do everything in our power to help these small business owners recover from their tragic loss," they continued. "Therefore, we would like to ask that you formally request the U.S. Small Business Administration to grant the Village of Sag Harbor a special disaster declaration to allow residents to be eligible for the SBA Disaster Recovery program, which will give them access to low-interest loans to help them get back on their feet."

In an effort to unite residents after the tragedy, the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and Cormaria will hold a Candlelight Gathering on Tuesday, December 27th at the Christmas Tree on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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