By Marianna Levine
Traffic and transportation were the themes once more at a sparsely attended Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting last Monday night. Besides the CAC chair Fred Cammann’s disappointment with the turn out (which several members attributed to the Winter Olympics), the committee had a quick presentation on code enforcement by Southampton Ordinance Inspector Alfred Tumbarello, a longer discussion on the Volpe transportation study presented by CAC member Ian MacPherson, and a follow up by CMEE director Steve Long on a proposed toddler’s playground in the hamlet.
However, perhaps the evening’s most interesting information came from Cammann himself who enthused about Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Thorne-Holst’s new initiative to bring together area CAC chairs once a month for a meeting in order to follow up on their concerns and complaints.
“I have to tell you, it’s remarkable,” Cammann commented. “It is great to be able to talk to the other CAC chairs. I get news and even emails now about our concerns and if progress has been made. This is a real endeavor to make communication better.”
Cammann also mentioned that Tumbarello’s visit came as a direct result of one of these communal CAC meetings. During the last meeting several chairs had asked for specifics concerning the town’s code enforcement.
Tumbarello started the conversation by informing CAC members “if you feel there is a pressing issue in your area give me a call.” He handed out his card, and then outlined his duties such as assessing whether a home is over crowded, if a person is illegally dumping garbage, or even things such as unattended lawns, too many vehicles per residence, and overnight street parking.
“For example, if you feel a neighbor in your area is renting a house out and there are 20 people living in it, we would come around, interview people, and see if we could get into the house and count how many beds there are,” he said.
CAC member Cathie Gandel asked if code enforcement deals with commercial as well as residential concerns, to which Tumbarello replied in the affirmative.
Tumbarello also explained how the enforcement process works.
“It is state law to give notice of a violation first. The state likes to see us educate people before taking them to court.”
He said the CAC shouldn’t get discouraged by the length of time it may take for the violator to be prosecuted. Although “it can get caught up in court and planning,” eventually a case will go through.
Immediately after this, CAC member Ian MacPherson made a presentation on his thoughts concerning “The Volpe Study which is an outgrowth of the Sustainable East End Development Strategies (SEEDS) recommendation for a coordinated rail and bus network.”
MacPherson explained that the Volpe study recommended a bus service for the North Fork and a coordinated bus and rail system for the South Fork. The estimated cost for this system would be around $117.3 to $147.8 million, of which around $100 million would be spent on rail.
“This recommendation has been accepted by the five towns of the East End according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele,” Mac Pherson added.
MacPherson ended by saying “I could not see the justification of the expenditure of this money which would basically do nothing to reduce congestion in the South Fork.” He pointed out the study said rail use would only reduce congestion by 2.2%.
MacPherson thought that money would be better spent on improving the South Fork’s bus system, which was not as costly, and by further improving the roads. He suggested “It would be helpful to our transportation situation if the town could do a further study on how the roads in the South Fork can be improved.” He also asked for the CAC’s thoughts on this subject.
Long wondered whether it was better to “stop paying into the MTA and put the money into a Peconic Transportation Service, as Assemblyman Thiele suggested, in order to off-set the costs.”
Some CAC members thought taking buses would be slower than the train and also the bus tended to cost more than the train. Several thought the Jitney could do a good job running a bus service out here.
In the end Cammann and CAC Secretary Dick Bruce suggested the CAC host a discussion, perhaps at the newly re-opened Hampton Library, concerning South Fork transportation.
“We should have the Jitney guy come to the discussion, and Tom Neely, as well as the McCoys, the school bus people. It would be instructive, and we need to know what we’re talking about here.”
Lastly, Long mentioned he had been talking with Councilwoman Nancy Graboski about the creation of a toddler’s park in Bridgehampton.
“I want the playground for all of Bridgehampton, but there are so many benefits for Bridgehampton if we have the playground at CMEE,” he said.
However several people noted they’d like to have a playground on Main Street or the beach instead.