CVS Foes Plan Bridgehampton Protest

Posted on 02 July 2014

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Members of Save Bridgehampton Main Street, a group that was formed in large part to fight the prospect of a CVS Pharmacy in the hamlet, are reaching back to a popular tactic from the 1960s—the protest march—as their latest weapon in their fight.

The protest, which will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 3, was the brainchild of Carey Millard, a member of both Save Bridgehampton Main Street and the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, which has also opposed the CVS.

After a recent CAC meeting, during which members seemed to be spinning their wheels, Ms. Millard said she was inspired to take to the streets.

“I just got irritated listening to all the bright ideas,” she said. “I just thought it was time we did something.”

She said on Tuesday that she had already reached out to about 20 friends to join in and that she and friends had made up about 40 signs, but that she really had no idea how many people would show up in front of Starbucks for the march.

“The worst thing that can happen is it will be a disaster,” she said. “And if that’s the case, we’ll just do another one on a weekend. Maybe we’ll just have to keep rubbing everyone’s noses in this business.”

At the same time, Leonard Davenport, who is also a member of both organizations, has sent the Southampton Town Board a petition collected by Save Bridgehampton Main Street requesting that the town try to use Community Preservation Fund money to buy the property in question—a corner lot at Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike—for preservation.

“He’s going to have to be turned into a willing seller,” said Mr. Davenport, referring to Paul Kanavos whose BNB Ventures owns the property as well as the former Bridgehampton National Bank building, which is now occupied by Starbucks.

“There’s been a lot of talk about preserving that corner,” said Mr. Davenport, noting that opponents had received next to no negative feedback in their effort to block CVS.

“The town board is going to have to take that action. They are the ones who will have to take that approach,” he said.

When it was revealed earlier this year that CVS wanted to lease a 9,000-square-foot building that has been approved for the former site of the Bridgehampton Beverage store, members of the CAC hit the roof. They were apoplectic upon learning that the pharmacy giant, which had earlier sought to build stores in Wainscott and Sag Harbor, had actually signed a lease with BNB Ventures.

Because the CAC is an advisory committee to the town board, residents formed the new organization, Save Bridgehampton Main Street. That group has undertaken a fundraising drive to hire a lawyer as well as commission a traffic study.

In May, a horde of Bridgehampton residents descended on Town Hall demand the town board do something to stop the project, but their pleas were rebuffed by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst who said the town could not interfere in a matter before the planning board.

Last month, members of the CAC decided they would use a broader argument to state their case by opposing all retail development at the corner.

“Let’s look at the larger picture,” said Mr. Davenport. “Almost anything that goes there of a substantial size will create a problem with parking and traffic.”

The petition, which asks the town board to buy the property, cites parking, traffic and a host of other reasons for preventing the CVS.

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