In the area along Noyac Road, where Cromer’s Country Market, the Whalebone General Store and George Heine Reality lie, a facelift may soon take place. The area has long been a target of concern given the number of customers frequenting those businesses and the difficulties experienced when maneuvering in and out of the parking lot. Engineers hired by Southampton Town will revisit the idea of traffic calming in that stretch of Noyac Road based on a plan that has been on and off the table in recent years. Now, there is the possibility of a phased-in approach for the plan.
On Friday at a town board work session, Southampton Town Planning and Development Administrator Jefferson Murphree said that the town is trying to work closely with property owners to come to consensus on a plan that will slow traffic in that area, while also providing a happy medium for the business owners.
The plan presented on Friday in Southampton Town Hall shows improvements along Noyac Road that include the addition of an island in the middle of the road, just west of the shopping area. That island is designed to slow traffic around the bend just past the intersection of Elm Street and Noyac Road. In front of the businesses, an additional 16 feet of roadway is proposed to widen the road. The additional land would come from a vacant property across the street, which is owned by the Town of Southampton.
The engineers of P.E., L.K. McLean Associates proposed adding a raised median that would run almost the entire length of the businesses in the shopping center. The median would be similar to the median in front of village hall in North Haven and composed of grey brick.
The shop owners in the audience, however, worried that a raised median would negatively affect their businesses and do not like the idea. Neither does Chuck Neuman, president of the Noyac Civic Council.
“We have talked about this for four years. Let’s get a conclusion — build the whole damn thing without that,” said Neuman pointing at the median in front of the shops.
“We have talked about the improvements for a long time and talked to business owners to come up with a compromise,” said councilman Chris Nuzzi.
The meeting room quickly erupted in debate with audience members and town representatives all talking at once, arguing their case for improvements along that road — the Noyac audience not in favor of the implementation of a median in that area.
“When the delivery trucks are there, [in the parking area] there is no way for people to get in or out,” said Linda Heine, owner of the Whalebone.
“An alternative is a plush island,” engineer Ray Dibase responded. “The drawback is that drivers could drive over it. We think a raised island is more effective.”
“We had this discussion last year,” Nuzzi said in an attempt to move the argument forward. “We need to get beyond that.”
Neuman said that what business owners would like to see is a “safe shopping experience.” He added this was the first time he was hearing of the additional 16 feet of property to be used to widen the roadway.
Nuzzi, who requested the work session on this project, explained that the goal of the project is to slow traffic, constrain cars on either side of the road and to add a turn lane. The issue that remains, he said, is the barrier between the westbound traffic and the businesses.
Supervisor Linda Kabot responded that it is important to get the project underway because the funding, which had originally been earmarked for the roundabout at Long Beach Road and Noyac Road, would have to be re-directed.
“We are getting ahead of ourselves,” Nuzzi explained, “We need to come to consensus if we are okay with proceeding with this project without that barrier.”
Town board members agreed that the plan could go forth with the improvements — minus the barrier.
Murphree said that the engineers will go back and work on what may be “shovel ready” for a phased-in approach to the project.
Â Nuzzi said on Monday that he is working on securing the funding for the project. He added that the town will measure results of traffic calming after the first phase of the project is completed, and if that shows the median is still necessary to improve the situation, the town could implement it at a later date.
Councilperson Nancy Graboski added that she wouldn’t want to see a “shovel in the ground” for this project between May 1 and September 15, so as not to interrupt traffic flow on Noyac Road during the busy summer months.
Nuzzi responded that he would like to see the project completed before the summer, if possible.Â
Â Illustration above shows proposal to create median in front of Cromer’s Market/Whalebone General Store.