By Claire Walla
Business owners have protested, residents have called for action and grass-roots organizations have entered the fray.
The small curve of Noyac Road that runs by Cromer’s Market has divided both the community and the Southampton Town board for more than six years, as plans to implement traffic-calming measures have continually been re-shaped and redefined in an attempt to satisfy all needs.
And while not all parties can seem to come up with a viable plan to suit everyone’s desires, those involved can at least agree on one thing: something needs to be done.
This overarching goal is the impetus behind a meeting next Wednesday, March 28, where all parties will get one last chance to come to the same table to be heard.
Hosted jointly by Southampton Town and the Noyac Civic Council, the meeting will bring together town personnel — like Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor — as well as residents and local groups with a vested interest in the reconstruction project.
To prepare for the discussion, Noyac Civic Council President Elena Loreto said she sent a survey to 359 Noyackers in an effort to solicit their thoughts on the matter. The survey included five questions related to the most recent construction plan, which was proposed by Gregor in 2011. In a nutshell, that plan includes installing two concrete medians in Noyac Road, as well as creating a concrete barrier between the road and the parking area in front of Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone gift shop.
The survey questions are as follows:
Do you feel the 2011 plan accomplishes its mission?
Do you feel this plan will change the rural character on Noyac?
Do you feel this plan will adversely affect the businesses in terms of traffic flow, accessibility for patrons and accessibility for delivery trucks?
Do you feel this plan will adversely affect home owners bordering the construction area [in Pine Neck]?
Are you in favor of this plan?
The questions are all yes/no, however Loreto said there is a section at the end of the survey where people were invited to offer any additional comments on the plan. As of last week, she said she had received 44 completed surveys back, though she expects to receive more before the meeting.
“It looks like everyone wants something done, but most people do not think this plan will succeed for various reasons,” Loreto said of the survey results thus far, which will be kept anonymous. “People seem to favor trying something in increments.”
Rather than constructing concrete medians, she said some residents are more in favor of using striping to calm traffic. And, she added, many residents are concerned with the proposed “loading zone” created in the 2011 plan. According to the design, the concrete barrier separating the commercial parking area from Noyac Road would essentially extend over Bay Avenue where it meets up with Elm Street, thereby cutting-off access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road.
“People are fearful that that might funnel traffic into Pine Neck,” Loreto continued. “They don’t want anything that’s too severe.”
At a town board meeting last month, Alex Gregor pushed the need for more permanent traffic-calming measures, saying concrete barriers are necessary for safety. He noted how dangerous that stretch of Noyac Road is, particularly because cars back out of parking spaces into on-coming traffic, and the union of Bay and Elm streets at that Noyac curve essentially creates 20 potential “conflict points.”
Also voicing some concern with the construction project is the local organization SpokesPeople, which sees this as an opportunity to increase bike safety in the area.
According to group member Mike Bottini, SpokesPeople’s main concern is making sure the construction plan allows for bike lanes on either side of the highway. With the current plan only allowing for 11-foot-wide traffic lanes on either side of the road — in addition to a left-hand turn lane — Bottini said SpokesPeople will push to get at least eight more feet added to the road for bike safety, creating two four-foot bike lanes going in each direction.
Of course, he added, implementing bike lanes at this section of Noyac Road begs the question: What’s it going to connect to?
That’s yet to be determined.
“But, you’ve gotta start somewhere,” he said.
With the town recently having adopted a Complete Streets policy, Bottini said this will be the start of more comprehensive bike and pedestrian accessibility in Southampton Town.
“Hopefully, one day we can make the connection from Cromer’s to Long Beach.”
The Noyac Civic Council meeting about Noyac Road will take place Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike.