HOME  /  TOP STORIES  /  EVENTS  /  TOWN TALK  /  FEATURES  /  CONTACT US  /  ADVERTISE WITH US

Saltaire Summery
By Hugh O’Brien

Alas, the annual Sunken Forest trip had to be cancelled due to scheduling conflicts, but, as residents have come to expect, the combined resourcefulness of the Village’s recreation, maintenance and public health departments proved more than equal to the challenge of devising newer and ever more exciting public amusements; and so it was last Tuesday with the debut of Saltaire’s latest home-grown ride—the Hurly-Burly, Whirly-Twirly, Knock ’em/Block ’em, Sock ’em/Clock ’em, Magical Mystery Rock-and-Roll Dock House.

Yes, in the greatest entertainment advance since Camp Fun Day Part VIII a decade ago, Saltaire residents were treated, for free, to the thrills, the chills, indeed, the spills, of dodging a runaway trailer lifted, lofted and left to the buffeting caprices of the winds during a particularly violent weather event… With the added diversion that all this took place at night, in the dark!

Billed as “The Pamplona of the Great South Bay”, except that here instead of rampaging bulls participants were running away from a flying building, dozens of lucky residents ran screaming—they were really screams of laughter, of course—up Broadway as the temporary dock house lived up to its adjective. Propelled by the evening’s near-hurricane-force breezes, it roared free from its moorings on the dock’s deck and tumbled end over end, across the berthed boats in the marina, before alighting, scarcely dampened, on the corner of Bay & Broadway. There, like a sheet of Bounce in a laundromat dryer, it found in the long, wide channel that is Broadway the ideal wind tunnel to continue, even intensify, its riotous somersault down to the ocean, preceded by burgeoning crowds of Saltairians of all ages shrieking in delight, some even contributing to the vicarious sense of “danger” by shouting things like “Help me!” and “Save me!” and “Kenny! RoseAnn! For God’s sake, let me in!!” before, having flattened the dunes and taken out the lifeguard chair shed, it at last rolled in tatters into the surging surf, there to be broken up by breakers and swept out on semi-tsunami tides, never to be seen again. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be sure. And if you think scrambling out of the house’s path was fun, you should talk to the people who, sneaking in under the pretext of waiting for the arrival of the 9 o’clock ferry, rode it inside the whole way!

Wellllllllll, okay... While all this would have made for a much cooler, better story, truth is that that Tuesday night storm, while packing quite a wallop, wasn’t nearly so dramatic. But it was strong enough to topple the dock trailer onto its side, despite its being anchored pretty firmly to the dock’s interior, while at the same time blowing boats onto the bay beach, felling a few branches and generally socking the firehouse wind sock. Harry Baker, the keeper of statistics of such things, reported his and the firehouse’s wind gauges clocked the heaviest gust at 62 miles per hour, only 13 mph less than a category-one hurricane’s minimum strength. Of course, these weren’t sustained winds, but enough to wreak their modest havoc. Luckily, no one was injured or even in danger in any of this, and as far as the dock house went, which wasn’t very far – just keeled over on its side, doing no damage to the dock or anything else – in the ensuing 36 hours it was towed out of the way and eventually loaded onto the freight boat that had brought it and shipped back to its lender. A new house will be installed, and anchored more securely, all of this at virtually no cost to the Village: it’s insured. This was a saving lesson, though, as everyone consulted had believed the fallen house had been firmly bolted into place—it wasn’t just sitting out there loose on top of the decking—and that it would withstand the kind of storms we could normally expect, even a real hurricane. Never mind—the next one, and the permanent one later, will.

Of course, that means we’ll have to come up with a new weather-related amusement. Hmmm… Now, if we attach a couple of metal conducting rods at each corner… Got it. “Mario’s Mystical Palace of Lightning!” Has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? Gives you kind of a charge, better than the Halloween Spook House from a couple years back ’cause this’ll really make your hair stand on end, yeah, yeah, we’ll put it in next year’s budget.

Actually, what was really amusing about this experience was how little notice most people seemed to take of it all. Yeah, people sort of realized that they couldn’t get into the house because there wasn’t any door in the roof, but basically, after it was taken away, the building’s absence caused less comment than its presence ever had. Probably because, unlike the old one, this house stood off to the side, out of the way, not in the middle clogging traffic, and everyone so liked all the extra space we now have that they seldom even bothered to use the thing. The most telling reaction was that of Bruce Rich, who as a highly paid village trustee is normally cognizant of such matters. Bruce had ducked into town on an early evening Friday ferry and was so preoccupied with plans to improve the quality of village life that he failed to observe the lack of dock house. He heard the tale next morning, just prior to Saturday’s Board meeting. “We had a dock house?”

Segueing smoothly into BoT issues, the Board considered three local laws last Sat., revisions to our private dock and fence codes and the possibility of establishing a peace officer force, a Constabulary, to augment Security. The first of these, with minor revisions, will likely be adopted next meeting, while the last two, especially the Constabulary, will take much work and consideration; but a revised fence code, to replace the problematic current statute, is a certainty for adoption later this season. Public discussion of all three will continue as needed. The Board’s next meeting is only a week away, Sat., August 5, at 9 a.m. at the firehouse, at which a public hearing on further proposed changes to the recently revised Chapter 18, Building Construction, will be held.

That meeting, as did this last one, will also include the regular update on the trial period of limited night bike riding (NBR for tired typed-out fingers) this summer. Lots of residents have weighed in on the ongoing debate, presenting their own observations as to the success or failure of the experiment, but last weekend we had the benefit Security Chief Joe Walter reporting on his department’s experiences thus far. The short of it is that the number of observed or reported NBR violations declined during the preceding week, down from a larger number during the first week or 10 days. Eight summonses have been given out, mostly for riding without a light, after an initial period where people were given warnings to adjust to the revised rules. But the chief reported that while increasing numbers of people do seem to be following the regulations, problems remain—notably, a sharp jump in bicycle thefts, double the number from this time last year. Advice: KEEP YOUR BIKES LOCKED! And register them with Security. Interestingly, the chief noted that most violators early in the evening are adults, with younger people, “kids,” usually defined in Saltaire parlance as anybody under 40, taking up the slack later at night. Be advised that additional patrols are being put in place for Friday and Saturday nights, the times of heaviest bike traffic, to cover more of the village, with special attention to the east end and the vicinity of the Yacht Club. Even so, and as Chief Walter stated, this is a very large community and it is impossible to have officers stationed at every walk or intersection. Violations continue to occur on the “off-walks,” as they always have, and not everyone can be observed or caught in the act. But if you see or hear any NBR or other violation, please report it immediately to Security (583-5572), to enable them to intercept the perps. And again, lock your bikes!

Never let it be said, however, that Saltairians lack ingenuity: Security reports the latest dodge regarding NBR concerns the light you’re supposed to have on at all times while biking at night. At least a dozen people (those 40-year-old “kids”, no doubt) have been intercepted using their cell phones’ lights to illumine their path, if not their consciousness, instead of the required, conventional sort of lights. I don’t know how adequate a cell phone light is to the task of being able to see the street and assorted obstacles—children, old folks, deer, dock houses—that lay ahead, but as to the law, I’m afraid a cell doesn’t cut it; section 10-2 C specifically mandates either a hand-held flashlight or a mounted light, with beams visible at least 200 feet ahead, as the required and only permissible lights for NBR. Sorry, but points for inventiveness. Best recent NBR action: Mayor Rosenblum personally stopping three would-be night biking miscreants leaving the Yacht Club Saturday evening and preparing to pedal away up forbidden Marine Walk. And not one of them under 50! Too old even for Saltaire kids. Darn. Judge DiCostanzo loves handling juvie.

(Meanwhile.) Recapping the biggest upcoming bemusements… Like the SCAA H&G Tour, this weekend (Sat. starting at 10 by the Catholic Church, pray-for-rain date Sunday; don’t disrupt the Mass if required to assemble then – Father Richard already noted in his sermon last week the degree of truck traffic rolling by on Lighthouse, which is really invoking a higher authority to deal with an issue). Remaining tickets to be sold on site at the outset, still only $20 per.

Not to be confused with the SCAA’s A&M Festival, Sat., Aug. 5, still no signs posted as of press time, but bound to unfold as usual across the northern latitudes of the community during the day-long celebration, culminating with the behind-the-bulkhead, bring-your-own-food, my-blanket’s-bigger-than-yours sunset repast. Employing a string quartet to accompany the Board meeting that morning is under consideration. Either that or serving watermelon. And the long-awaited Fire D. 4th-of-July parade is apparently set for Sat. the 12th, except maybe it’ll be Sun. the 13th, one or the other, probably the former, and we’ll spread the rumors on that one as fast as we get ’em.

The Balloon Man takes flight Wed., Aug. 16, beginning at 7 p.m. at the SYC, open and free to all, as posted on the bulletin boards. Now, I don’t know who picks the graphics used to illustrate these signs, but the balloon man on this one looks like a stock character straight out of one of those Warner Bros. slum movies of the ’30s, I mean to the point where you’d swear you can hear the cartoon speaking to you in this phony immigrant Italian accent. You know, the guy standing along the curb, as the Dead End Kids and Cagney push their way past, right between the fruit stand owner on one side and the organ grinder with his monkey on the other… Which reminds me: The Organ Grinder Man featuring Pepino the Wonder Monkey will appear at the Club Wed., Aug. 23 at 7. Sorry, Fruit Stand Man has withdrawn following objections from the Market.

Friday, Aug. 11 marks the annual Maggie Fischer Memorial Great South Bay Cross-Bay Swim, proceeds to benefit the Hospice Care Network and Children’s and Family Bereavement programs (over $20,000 was raised last summer). This year is special in that a lot of veterans of the swim from the ’60s and ’70s—it’s been an annual event in one guise or another since the 1920s, named after Maggie in 2000—have registered to test their stamina after many decades, I’m sure, of armchair indolence. Ha! The event is already over-registered; some 75 swimmers, accompanied by 75 kayakers, will jump in off the Lighthouse (note I inserted the word “in”) at 6:30 a.m. and make landfall at Gilbert Park in Brightwaters between 8:30 and 10:30. Spectators and cheerer-oners are welcome at both the start and finish lines. Donation and other information may be obtained at www.greatsouthbayswim.com or call (631) 665-1284. (Pledges are tax-exempt.) “Who needs a boat when you can swim across the bay!” says the ad, an admonition of which Tim and Ed Mooney and George Hafele obviously hope few travelers will make a habit. (F.I. Ferries is a great supporter of the swim.)

Sporting News!

Honest! Last weekend’s Women’s Doubles tourney was won, in what observers called one of the best matches in memory (they really did say that, along with comments on the improved beer supply), by the tag team of Timna Sherman & Jane Harnick, edging past worthy opp’s RoseAnn Trentacoste & Ann Golub in three sets. Even bigger news comes from the high seas, where Saltaire seized the coveted Rudder (with a capital R and that rhymes with bar and that’s where the victors celebrated—sand bar, of course), our first victory in that 60-year-old competition with Point O’ Woods in either 4 or 5 years—Maddy Medenica isn’t sure how old she was when we last won. But our two finishing craft under the skipperage of twins Austin and Kyle Crippes bested POW’s goons 22-20 on points, though the full race schedule was cut short when rare storms suddenly struck. Otherwise, our margin would have been even greater. Acutely aware of that other, concomitant tradition, of the loser of the Rudder Race sailing down under cover of night to swipe the trophy back, Maddy and YC sailing overseer Bob Cox made sure to bolt the Rudder tightly into the club’s woodwork, discouraging any quick-and-dirty removal efforts. Next morning manager Larry Bersohn opened up to find the fireplace wall missing. See? Should’ve checked to see how the experts secure such things, like say the dock house.