Noyac Wants Action on Traffic and Community Center

Posted on 16 October 2008

If there’s one thing that Southampton Town councilman Dan Russo will take back to his board after his visit to Noyac Tuesday night, is that the residents there are tired of getting little done in their hamlet.

“You need to tell them that the people here are p—– that nothing has been done in 6 ½ years,” said Noyac Civic Council president Chuck Neuman during the council’s regular monthly meeting. The meeting was held at the town’s Bridgehampton Community Center while repair work was being done by the town at the normal meeting spot, the Old Noyac School House.

Clearly in Neuman’s sights were proposals for a new community center for the hamlet, plus traffic control measures along Noyac Road, especially in front of the Whalebone/Cromer’s shopping area.

The town had conducted a formal hamlet study over six years ago, Neuman noted, and virtually none of the recommendations in that document have come to fruition.

Particularly irksome is the lack of a community house. For decades his organization and other community organizations have used the old school house, but its age and size — and increased demand — no longer make it practical.

Plus, noted Ralph DeSpigna, who helps work the polls on election days, new voting machines will make the already small quarters more cramped in a building where two districts come to vote.

In a vote that appeared more out of frustration with the town’s inertia than actual desire, the council decided to tell the town they can build the community center on the property where the school house sits, rather than pursuing one or two other locations they felt would have been more appealing.

Neuman told Russo, who was the evening’s guest speaker, that he and other Noyac residents who had formed a committee to investigate sites for a community house had been encouraged by the town to look for opportunities they felt best suited the community. They had chosen, said Neuman, a parcel adjacent to Trout Pond that, in addition to serving as a gathering place for community organizations and events, could also serve as a trail head for the system that runs through Trout Pond park and connects to the larger trail system throughout the town.

The town, said Neuman, was loath to spend the money to buy the property, and Russo doubted that Community Preservation Fund money could be used to purchase it, and then build a structure on it.

Despite the town’s urging to explore possibilities, said Neuman, “From the beginning the town’s position was: ‘why build a center on any property other than what we already own’.”

Neuman asked for a show of hands to judge who was willing to have the community center built on the property with the school house, which the town owns. Virtually every hand in the room went up.

“Maybe reality is starting to sink in,” said a resigned Neuman.

“The good news is, “said Russo, “when you get back into the school house, you’ll be sitting on new toilet seats.”

On Wednesday, Neuman said he would poll the 588 members of the civic council to see in which direction they would like to head.

But the council was also concerned about the safety of Noyac Road, and commenting on the increased amount of traffic, big trucks and speeders, implored Russo to find a solution.

Neuman said the consensus from a June meeting between representatives from the hamlet and town officials was that the town was going to make an effort to “calm” the traffic along Noyac Road.

“But since June, nothing has been done,” said Neuman.

Neuman said a plan proposed by the town included building an island in front of the Whalebone/Cromer’s parking lot, but that the owners of those businesses were concerned that the construction would discourage customers.

“Just calm the traffic, don’t build anything,” he said.

“I think the plan is more aggressive than you need,” agreed Russo. “The island would be intrusive.”

Russo said the plan for improvements along Noyac Road had been developed by the town’s consultants, McLain Associates, for about $40,000.

“But I think we wasted our money,” he said, “You can do this with road markings; I’ll take that message back.”

The conversation turned to other means of slowing traffic, including installing one or two traffic lights along the road and more speed limit signs.

“I’ve been recommending rumble strips for years,” said John Iacurto. “Why not put them on either side of Trout Pond?”

Ed Drouhin wondered about the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Long Beach and Noyac roads.

“The price was way to expensive,” said Russo.

Frustrated, Iacurto asked: “After a study, what’s the next step to get something done?”

“You put it out to bid and decide to bond for it or not,” answered Russo. “But if the numbers come back astronomically, the plan gets shelved.”

The councilman conceded the town needed to get back to the intersection “to make it safe for pedestrians.”

The civic council members also asked about the possibility of the town taking ownership of Noyac Road from Suffolk County. Part of the concern is that the county may one day want to expand the road to create a bigger bypass.

Russo said he would need to weigh the pros and cons of taking the road.

“I can tell you, the county would be happy to give us the road,” said Russo. “The county exec would be asking, ‘Where do I sign;’ which makes me wary of the cons.”

He added: “The fear of a major highway coming down Noyac Road? I just don’t see it.”

One woman asked if the town would be able to control the weight of trucks that come along the road.

“Yes; but without enforcement, they’re going to disobey the limits,” said Russo. “We just gave Chief Overton ten new police officers last week; that’s what we should be screaming about. Everything we’ve been talking about is pointless without enforcement.”

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