Just a year ago, it appeared likely a sailing club would return to Mecox Bay this summer season, bringing back a historic yacht club to the area that would serve all residents of Southampton, including those without the means to own a sailboat or pay the often lofty price of a traditional yacht club membership.
Then, of course, a lawsuit was filed.
Now, as summer kicks off a second suit has been filed related to the Mecox Sailing Association and founder Jeffrey Mansfield. Mansfield is now seeking the support of town residents, financial and otherwise, so that he may continue to battle neighbors and bring the Mecox Yacht Club back to life.
Mansfield was approved in 2011 for a wetlands permit by the town conservation board and was given a license agreement by the Southampton Town Board to re-open the Mecox Sailing Association at the end of Bay Lane.
The sailing association hoped to re-open at the site of the former Mecox Yacht Club, now parkland that was transferred to the town from Suffolk County in the mid-1990s.
The Mecox Sailing Association and the Town of Southampton have been slapped with a lawsuit by a collection of Water Mill homeowners calling themselves the Mecox Bay Civic Association. The homeowners challenged the legality of the town’s wetlands permit, charging the Mecox Sailing Association should not be allowed to clear away vegetation in a designated wetlands area. According to Mansfield, two weeks ago, the same group of neighbors filed a second lawsuit against the town board for granting the not-for-profit a license agreement.
On Monday night, Mansfield gave an update to the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).
“This is restricting access to the bays,” said Mansfield who added the association has its own attorney working alongside the town’s attorney in fighting this case.
“We have collected x amount of money, but we need four times x in terms of what we have already spent,” said Mansfield. “In a way this is financial bullying. That is what is happening here.”
“Don’t they realize there are probably 50 ice boats that use that water every year,” asked Southampton Town Trustee Ed Warner, Jr.
“No — because they are somewhere besides here,” replied Mansfield.
Mansfield thanked the committee for their continued support and promised to keep them updated.