By Marianna Levine
After a two-month hiatus the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee picked up were it left off, primarily talking about traffic, this time in the air as well as on the road. The meeting’s agenda was packed with other items as well, including an introduction to the CAC’s new website, a presentation on a handicapped accessible building, a report on land preservation, and an appeal to have individuals in the community help local cultural institutions.
With this much to discuss the CAC invited Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town Councilwoman Sally Pope, and Peter Wadsworth from the East Hampton Noise Abatement Advisory Committee to take part in the conversation.
CAC President Fred Cammann announced that after August’s meeting with Southampton Town Police Capt. Anthony Tenaglia, there had been positive action taken to monitor and discourage reckless driving along Bridgehampton’s rural back roads.
Cammann explained, “Capt. Tenaglia said that in 2009 they didn’t put extra enforcement in the area before Memorial Day weekend, but he assured me that will not happen on the by-ways again. Next year they will beef up coverage on the Bridgehampton by-roads so that people don’t speed by while on their cell phones.”
Cammann also mentioned that Tenaglia thought the traffic light in Water Mill by Citarella’s should stay at a four-minute interval at all times so that it isn’t constantly stopping traffic along Montauk Highway. Currently if one or two cars line up for the light in the Citarella’s parking lot exit the light stops traffic on 27.
Schneiderman agreed traffic lights along 27 are at the root of the problem. Stating, “because the traffic isn’t moving, people are using the back roads. All summer long the traffic on 27 was at a standstill starting around the Princess Diner in Southampton.
He disagreed, however, with having a constant four-minute interval at the Water Mill light.
“I think the traffic needs to keep moving. All these big construction trucks take ages to start up and get moving again. I’ve suggested they put the light on blink.”
CAC Co-Chair Tony Lambert elaborated that the other lights along 27 have been put in for “safety reasons, but that one was not. The Citarella’s light was put in by the owner (of the development).”
In the end the CAC decided to pass a resolution suggesting the Water Mill light try blinking lights instead of going to a four-minute interval.
Peter Wadsworth started his presentation on air traffic noise saying “things have come a long way since the committee started five years ago. Planes fly much higher and they are flying on three routes instead of just one.”
He did stress however that helicopter traffic, although down by 15% due to the current economy, is still causing the most noise and therefore generating the most complaints. In fact helicopters caused 61 percent of residential noise events in 2008 even though they are only 20 percent of the air traffic in the area.
Cammann explained he had asked Wadsworth to come and speak as a reminder to the Town of Southampton that the Bridgehampton CAC has quietly been working on the reduction of airport noise in the area for several years, and now suddenly “a splinter group that is being very aggressive with the town” is suddenly attracting attention.
When asked to clarify who this “splinter group” actually is, Wadsworth explained it was comprised of people who live north of Bridgehampton, where the air traffic has been rerouted.
“I take it you have a lot less helicopter noise now, but Noyac has considerably more. So we are trying to get them to fly over the ocean and through Georgica Pond but it will mean a much longer flight coming from Manhattan, and again the town, even though it owns the airport land, cannot dictate where the traffic flies.”
Cammann ended the discussion by reasserting that all the various groups on the East End should work together rather then bicker among themselves thereby discouraging the town or state from listening to residents’ complaints.
In other CAC news, Jeffery Vogel reminded members that the hamlet’s new website aboutbridgehampton.com was up and running. The updating of the website came out of a desire by the CAC to revision Bridgehampton’s hamlet study so that it would “codify the will of the hamlet” as opposed to representing outside interests. The website allows anyone to comment on the new study, and these comments will be compiled in the spring and incorporated in the CAC’s final study.
Although not an agenda item Schneiderman asked if he could quickly report on the county’s current efforts at local land preservation. He was pleased to report that the county had bought farmland off Mitchell Lane near Scuttle Hole Road, and that it looked like some land on Sagg Main Road will also shortly be purchased for preservation. He additionally reported that a sidewalk would finally be put in place along the Sag-Bridge Turnpike from Starbucks all the way to Scuttle Hole Road. There may also be bike lanes put on the road when it gets repaved.
The meeting also had a brief presentation by Mary Schellinger of the Southampton Town Disability Advisory Board, which focused on making residential housing handicapped accessible. Schellinger said “you can keep it simple” by just making one door to your home a little wider or by building a ramp
The meeting ended with Cammann reminding CAC members that the area’s cultural institutions were in dire need of financial assistance. Steve Long of the Children’s Museum of the East End was asking for individuals to come forward with funding to enable cultural institutions to hire high school students as summer interns. He said it only cost $1000 per student.
Schneiderman added that thanks to the new hotel tax “we have more money for local cultural institutions” and that he has already asked for money to help The Bay Street Theater.