Saltaire Summery

Saltaire SummeryBy Hugh O’BrienWelcome, folks, to the Saltaire of the 21st century. What the passage of a hundred years couldn’t do Sandy managed in a hundred minutes four years ago, so this village of ours has been getting a facelift…and nowhere has that lift been more evident than in the vista that greets you from the ferry bringing you, the family, the dog, the cat and seventeen Costco cold bags back for another summer.Though the timing wasn’t exactly planned this way, the new Saltaire Market, the new Saltaire Yacht Club and, a small stroll further south, the new Saltaire beach, are all making their debuts this spring of 2016. They are all accessible over the new Saltaire boardwalks and all newly and duly elevated, unlike some aspects of the current election season.It’s a big change, and rather a lot to take in all at once, but after all the angst and rumors and innuendo (God, do I want to quote Groucho Marx right about now), people are looking over the newest creations and seem as cautiously positive about their business prospects as they are about their bayside prospect. Despite a few inevitable delays here and there, both club and market promise to be open on or before Memorial Day weekend and up to full speed soon after. SYC Commodore Pia Notaro Carroll and her board have managed perhaps the most difficult challenge the place has faced since its incorporation in 1912. Likewise the various village boards that have sat low these past four years have coped with tough choices and an army of agencies in trying not just to rebuild but to make safer this community, and all credit to those who made and stuck by their decisions, right, wrong or neutral. If nothing else, the events of the past few years have shown that the greater cost would have been in ducking or running from the work that had to be done. The revamped market, under the capable management of Patrick Adams, will be an asset and a complement to village life. Saltaire has always been a community that we and those who came before us have chosen to make it, and we haven’t done badly by ourselves. So it will be going forward.Photo 1 Saltaire_MarketSo cheer up, old things, and support and enjoy the improvements.However, before dwelling anew on a new dwelling, let’s pause to remember the old stuff that’s been swept away by the exigencies of time and, especially, tide. The old Saltaire Market lived from 1915 to 2014 (talk about a 99-year lease) and in that time served as a familiar, comfy social center of the town, all the way back to the days when you’d stop in for a box of Weetabix before strolling across the street to the Western Union office to send a “buy” order to your broker for a thousand shares of Consolidated Zeppelin. Nary a Saltairian there was who didn’t trod those boards a hundred times each summer, or glance causally at its reassuring presence as they walked past its placid brown exterior year after year, generation after generation. Neglect, a harsh environment and finally one storm too many put paid to the place, its removal an inevitable if unhappy end result. Now it’s time to start a new history.As for the Yacht Club, its original two-stage edifice (bar, 1912; big room, 1929) had been held together and haphazardly renovated for most of the past century, but with all due props for the proppings-up, ingenuity can only carry you so far, and a rebirth was clearly called for. Amazingly, this being Saltaire and all, there was actually some quite uncharacteristic contentiousness in the re-imagining processes for both the club and market. But ultimately plans were made, funds were paid, farewells were bade, and new structures laid. Yes, it’ll run us a few bucks, but we – all of us – have made the hard choices. Now to see how village residents in 2116 deal with replacing our work.Photo 2 Saltaire_Yacht_ClubSad to say, a couple of changes have occurred in town that aren’t as felicitous. As many of you know, our longtime and beloved Security Chief, Dennis Foley, suffered a devastating stroke last fall that has left him with slightly impaired movement and a limited ability to speak so far. Dennis is in rehab now and I know everyone in the community is pulling and praying for his continued recovery.Meanwhile Bobby Chinkel, mainstay of maintenance, suffered a severe heart attack in December. Fortunately Bobby has had a steady recovery, but unfortunately he’s decided the time has come to retire, and he’ll be sorely missed on the job. But Bob will still be in evidence right next door in Fair Harbor. And Security is in eponymously secure hands in the person of Chief Bob Rittenhouse, an old and welcome friend and former officer with the force, who knows Saltaire like the back of his eponymously secure hand.Upcoming events! Memorial Day weekend brings with it, well, Memorial Day, obviously, but some doings around here. Besides the grand partial re-openings of club and market, the Fire Company is reviving the Memorial Day pancake breakfast, featuring, no doubt, newly revived pancakes, on Sunday, May 29, from 8 a.m. to around 11:30 or so. Generosity will be the order of the day. No charge – donations only. This is also of course the weekend of the municipal elections; polls are open Friday, May 27, from 12 noon to 9 p.m. No charge – donations only. The hordes of newly registered voters are encouraged to exercise their newly registered right to vote, especially since many of us may relocate to Canada after November and will cast our next votes for Lord Mayor of Prince Edward Island or something.Next time…remembering some old friends, and looking ahead to some new adventures. Planted stories welcome. No charge, but don’t forget those “donations.”Email Hugh at [email protected] with your Saltaire news and happenings.