By Claire Walla
The pint-sized patch of land on Mecox Bay in Water Mill is still pretty calm, and the decrepit wooden structure — left over from the days when avid sailors and boat enthusiasts flocked to the bay — is still empty, as the town of Southampton announced on Tuesday, June 14 it will wait until August to consider an application to reestablish a yacht club there.
According to Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin, the town is waiting to hear from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on a revised wetlands permit for the nine-acre parcel. Garvin said the plan calls for 1,800 square feet of vegetation to be cleared away for the project, which is “a significant reduction from the first plan.”
The plan to revitalize the site of the former Mecox Yacht Club was proposed to the Southampton Town Council last June by a group calling itself the Mecox Sailing Association (MSA). In addition to refurbishing the abandoned wooden structure at the end of Bay Lane, MSA plans to create a not-for-profit yacht club that would offer sailing classes for children and modest boat-storage facilities.
The property had been abandoned sometime in the early ‘90s and was subsequently seized by Suffolk County for back taxes. In 1999, it was given to Southampton Town, which last year announced its intentions to lease the land to a private entity.
The issue of a sailing club has brought heated discussions at past town board meetings. A large number of community members who endorse the plan have gone head-to-head against a collection of Water Mill residents calling itself the Mecox Bay Alliance (MBA). The MBA has publicly cited issues of noise, increased traffic and worries that the sailing association might foster a climate of exclusivity.
Bram Weber, an attorney representing MBA, was the only person to speak-out on the issue last Tuesday.
“The opposition of the community is still resolute and all options are still on the table,” he said. “But at least we’re at the same table having these discussions.”
Garvin recommended that the town put off making a decision on the application until it has all the licenses in hand.
As it stands, the application will go before the town board at a public hearing scheduled for August 9 at 1 p.m.