On Wednesday night, the Southampton Town Conservation Board is expected to approve plans for the development of the Mecox Yacht Club. According to Bridgehampton resident Jeffrey Mansfield the Mecox Sailing Association could be given license to run the facility by the Southampton Town Board as early as September 13.
During a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday night, Mansfield said that “all indications are we should get the permit” from the conservation board on Wednesday night. The Mecox Sailing Association received its wetlands permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this past June, meaning all that would stand in the way of the yacht club’s future would be an agreement with the town board to allow the sailing association to operate the club at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.
If successful in front of the conservation board, Mansfield said he expects there will be a public hearing on the proposal during a town board work session on September 9 where the sailing association will make its pitch. Also expected to attend that meeting are a group of neighbors who have opposed the plan. Theoretically, said Mansfield, if the town board supports the proposal despite neighbors opposition, it could sign off on a license agreement as early as its September 13 meeting.
That would end a years long effort by a group of Bridgehampton residents to resurrect public sailing at the site, for all residents of Southampton Town. The sailing association plans are limited in scope. Members hope to provide sailing instruction to Southampton Town youth at the site, which now hosts a dilapidated building hidden amongst the reeds, as well as a place to store sailboats and equipment.
However, residents have expressed concerns over an increase in traffic as a result of the yacht club, as well as restricted access to the beach, which sailing association members contend would not occur if they are approved to run the yacht club.
The proposal has long had the support of the Bridgehampton CAC, as well as the Bridgehampton Historical Society and the Water Mill CAC.
“You have done a yeoman’s job here in trying to serve the kids of Southampton,” said CAC member Steve Steinberg to Mansfield on Monday evening.
“We probably wouldn’t have hung around so long if we didn’t think it was such a good thing,” said Mansfield. “It looks like this may happen sooner rather than later.”
Town board member Nancy Grabowski, a Bridgehampton resident who sat in on the meeting, said the yacht club proposal dates back close to a decade, noting its approval is “a long time coming.”
Mansfield added that at a time when more and more waterfront access denied to East End residents, he sees the creation of the yacht club — which will not require expensive dues and will provide equipment for residents who cannot afford their own sailboat — critical to continuing the historic connection to the water that residents have cherished for generations.
“This is a change to promote and preserve sailing on Mecox Bay for years to come,” said Mansfield.
CMEE Begins to Develop Plans for Walking Trails
On Monday night, Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) Executive Director and CAC member Steve Long announced tentative plans to create two walking trails north of the museum on land the organization already owns.
According to Long, the goal is to connect the children who visit CMEE to the natural diversity of the East End and in particular provide them an educational resource focused on the wonders of the Peconic Estuary.
The museum plans to partner with Group for the East End as well as the Southampton Trails Preservation Society in developing the venture.
After working with Southampton Town officials, Long showed two trails — one 700-feet and another 1500-feet — stretching to the northeast and northwest off an existing boardwalk that connects the parking lot with the museum.
While they may seem like short trails, Long added that for young children, a 700-foot trail is not a short distance to hike. The museum would work with Group for the East End to create markers identifying important aspects of the natural world for children to learn as they traverse the trails, he added.
Long said he would like to see the paths made wheelchair — and therefore stroller — accessible.
Long said the museum has already received a Peconic Estuary grant for the educational aspects of the trail and is working with the East Hampton and Southampton Garden Clubs to apply for a $25,000 grant to kick-start the trail system development.
The museum is looking at possibly building a boardwalk for the trail or using FilterPave, a porous pavement made entirely of 100-percent post consumer recycled glass.
The only drawback to FilterPave, which was suggested by Group for the East End, is while it allows light and rain to filter through the material, it would have to be situated on the ground and not in on an elevated boardwalk.
“As I said, this is still very much in the idea stage,” said Long, who noted there is an existing conservation easement on the trail land in question and the museum would need town approval to move forward.
“But before we started that process, we want to talk to people in the community, talk about what you think about the idea and how we can improve it,” said Long.
Mansfield said at places like the Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge, his young children particularly enjoy the boardwalk paths elevated over wetland areas and streams. The boardwalk, he added, gives the small children a height advantage from which to view nature.
CAC member Ian MacPherson also wondered if the museum could form a partnership with the South Fork Natural History Museum, its neighbor across the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike which has property that connects to the trail system of the Long Pond Greenbelt.
Long said that was certainly the hope, and the museum has been waiting on Suffolk County to finish a sidewalk project on the turnpike that will include a crosswalk connecting the organizations, and eventually, its trails.