Tag Archive | "Alex Gregor"

Gregor Offers Noyac Road Update to Civic Council

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on Tuesday said he was optimistic a long awaited construction project on Noyac Road at Cromer’s Market should be completed by the end of June.

Speaking to the Noyac Civic Council, Mr. Gregor said PSEG Long Island had finished moving electric lines serving the area to new poles and that he was waiting for Cablevision and Verizon to move their lines. Verizon crews will then be in charge of removing the old utility poles before DeLalio Construction begins to work on the road itself.

“Since we had such a hard winter, we had a hard time getting the utilities motivated,” said Mr. Gregor, who added that he hoped that the poles would be moved by the end of this month. “The contractor will need two months to complete the project.”

The project is expected to improve traffic at a busy and dangerous curve, improve traffic circulation to Cromer’s and other businesses and side streets, and reduce stormwater runoff.

Mr. Gregor was joined at Tuesday’s meeting by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Councilwomen Christine Scalera and Brigid Fleming and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

The town officials also answered committee members’ questions on other topics, including deer and the East Hampton Airport, although Noyac Road took center stage.

Improving the short stretch of road has proven to be a controversial project. First proposed seven years ago, the project went through numerous changes before ground was finally broken this year.

Mr. Gregor said that it had already been decided that Noyac Road is too busy even during the offseason for any work to be done on the weekends. Crews will work five days a week, he said, and try to keep two lanes open at all times. He said he expected the project to be wrapped up by the end of June, but if weather, or some other situation slows work and traffic becomes “too horrendous,” crews will not work on Mondays and Fridays during the latter stages of the project, to reduce traffic tieups around busy weekends.

Despite the fact that the project has been discussed for years, some council members said they were concerned it would not do much to improve traffic on the curve.

Glenn Paul said the new layout, which would require vehicles entering and leaving Cromer’s to do so at either end of the store’s parking lot, would result in tie-ups and more congestion.

“Do you think that will alleviate accidents at that spot?” he asked.

“That’s what we’re working on,” replied Mr. Gregor. “There has been some skepticism, but we think this is an improvement.

The highway superintendent said he expected a newly designed drainage system would dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater that runs down Bay Avenue and Dogwood and Elm Streets to the bay.

Mr. Gregor said he was pleased to report that he road work would cost about $521,000, well below initial estimates of $780,000 or more.

Other council members asked if a major repaving project on Montauk Highway from Southampton to East Hampton might result in traffic being diverted to Noyac Road, but Mr. Neely said there were no such plans, and he added that he expected contraction crews to have made their way through Bridgehampton, moving eastward, within three weeks.

Dorothy Frankel said she was happy to see the Cromer’s corner being dealt with, but said the time had come to do something to reduce speeding along the rest of Noyac Road. She suggested reducing the speed limit, adding lane dividers at key places or even designating part of the shoulders as bicycle lanes.

The only solution, Mr. Gregor said, was for the town to either increase the number of police enforcing the speed limit, which he said would provide spotty coverage, or installing a speed limit camera that would record a vehicle’s speed, take a photo of its license plate automatically generate a ticket.

Ms. Throne Holst said the town has requested that such cameras be placed along Noyac Road, but said that they are only legal in New York State in school zones.

“Speed cameras, we think, would be the perfect solution for Noyac Road,” she said, “Once you get that picture of your license in the mail and a whopping ticket, you start to notice it.”

 

The Cost of the Bridge

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Everybody, it seems, is against Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor’s plan to use federal grant money to replace the aging bridge that crosses Sagg Pond between Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. It’s not that people object to accepting the federal largesse, but they don’t like the heavy duty design being proposed.

Recently, the Sagaponack Village Board offered a solution: It will foot the $500,000 cost of repairing the bridge and split future maintenance costs with the town if Mr. Gregor foregoes his plans.

What’s not to like? On the face of it, nothing. But the town should enter any agreement with Sagaponack with its eyes wide open.

Ever since the village was incorporated in 2005, Sagaponack officials, despite having such a wealthy tax base, have made something of a parlor game out of using their leverage to effectively reduce the share of taxes village residents pay into the town’s coffers. Witness the agreement made last year whereby Sagaponack abandoned its threat to form its own police department in exchange for more regular town police patrols, which, given an equal sized police budget, come at the expense of other communities with more crime.

Sagaponack already has an intermunicipal agreement for highway services with the town. The smart money says if Sagaponack pays out big money now for the bridge repairs, its officials will be looking to recoup that payment—at the expense of road repairs elsewhere in town—the next time they sit down at the bargaining table to extend that agreement.

Sagaponack Offers to Share Bridge Renovation Costs

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By Stephen J. Kotz

It might not look like much to most people, but the low-slung bridge across Sagg Pond that connects Sagaponack and Bridgehampton is apparently worth a lot to the Sagaponack Village Board.

On February 27, Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim, accompanied by three village board members, told the Southampton Town Board the village would be willing to chip in up to $500,000 to renovate the span—provided the town abandoned plans, proposed by Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, to redesign it meeting federal standards so the town could qualify for a matching grant of a similar amount.

“We feel quite passionately that the bridge should, as much as possible, be repaired and maintained as it is,” the mayor said. He called the bridge “an important centerpiece” between the village and Bridgehampton, which got its name from an earlier span at the same site on Bridge Lane.

Mr. Louchheim said the design, first unveiled in December by Mr. Gregor at a community input meeting at which little input was sought, would result in a bridge with “industrial, galvanized steel railings” that would lead to slightly narrower lanes and a narrower pedestrian walkway and eliminates an existing curb separating foot traffic from vehicles.

“We have had no progress trying to have a dialogue with the highway superintendent on this,” Mr. Louchheim said. He added that Mr. Gregor had told village officials the design specifications were required for the town to qualify for the federal grant money.

Mr. Gregor did not return calls seeking comment, but in his official capacity as highway superintendent he has the authority to oversee design plans, with the town board limited to choosing to fund or not fund projects he wants to pursue.

Before coming to the town board, village officials had mulled annexing the 35-foot section of the bridge that lands on the Bridgehampton side, but Mr. Louchheim said such a procedure “would be messy.” Instead, he said, the village had decided the easiest route would be for it to “step in and take the place of the federal government and provide matching funds for this project.”

The village, he added, “would agree, effective immediately to fund 50-50 any repairs, maintenance, or capital improvements to the bridge that both boards agree to for now and in the future.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, who had obtained the federal funding for the town, had assured her that the town, which has already earmarked $500,000 of its own money for the project, would be able to apply the federal grant money to another transportation-related infrastructure project elsewhere.

She pressed Mr. Louchheim to agree that the village would pay for any additional design work that would be required as part of the new project. Such an agreement might make the project “more palatable” for taxpayers elsewhere in town, she said.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also endorsed the scaled back plan, saying that pedestrian use of the bridge, whether for fishing, crabbing, walking or biking should be preserved. She also said the town should consider seeking landmark status for the bridge and asked Sally Spanburgh, chairwoman of the town’s Landmarks and Historic District Board, to look into that possibility.

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, who on February 24, voted to support Sagaponack in its efforts, also attended last week’s meeting.

Mr. Louchheim urged the town to act quickly before work is begun on the bridge. “I think what we are proposing would be a better outcome,” Mr. Louchheim said, “certainly on how people feel on both sides of the pond. We would make the taxpayers whole on the cost of this project. Plus you’d have the option of using that funding for another town project.”

With “Painful Awareness” of Federal Inefficiency, Southampton Town Leaders are Sworn in Monday

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Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, new Councilman Stan Glinka, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, new Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Christine Scalera at the first organizational meeting of the town board's new term Monday.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, new Councilman Stan Glinka, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, new Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Christine Scalera at the first organizational meeting of the town board’s new term Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

The leaders of the Town of Southampton trumpeted collaboration across party lines Monday as town officials, including new councilmen Brad Bender and Stanley Glinka, were officially sworn in to office.

The meeting room at Southampton Town Hall was filled to capacity with over 70 friends, family and staff members in attendance, with still others watching through a live video stream in an adjacent room.

Representatives from the Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Council were in attendance, as were county and state officials. Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman sat in the third row while Congressman Tim Bishop presided over the event.

Following a procession with bagpipes, Father Michael Vetrano of the Basilica of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary opened the annual ceremony with a simple prayer, “God help us,” asking that the elected officials have the “courage and integrity to always stand up for the truth.”

After being sworn in, Bender waited for Glinka and the pair — a Democrat and Republican, respectively — made consecutive and similar speeches.

“I think,” said Bender, “we’re turning a new page here in the Town of Southampton. I think we’re going to do a lot of good things for the town.”

Glinka thanked his friends, family and co-workers at Bridgehampton National Bank, where he serves as vice president, and said he looked forward to working for Southampton, his hometown.

New Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka is sworn in by Justice Deborah Kooperstein Monday.

New Southampton Town Councilman Stan Glinka is sworn in by Justice Deborah Kooperstein Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

In a longer speech than those given by her colleagues, re-elected Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst — an Independence Party member — emphasized the commitment to collaboration in coming years and outlined several areas where the new board is hopeful it will instill progress through a bi-partisan effort.

“I know we all recognize how privileged we are,” said Throne-Holst, “to not only live and work in this wonderful town, but to have been bestowed the even larger privilege — rather, the trust — to serve and safeguard what makes our town so special and that is, most of all, the wonderful people and constituents who make our community and our precious environment.”

“I think,” continued Throne-Holst, “we all share a painful awareness of the conspicuous and poor example of gridlock, partisan and narrow-minded government that has plagued our country over the last several years and where true public service has been too often stymied.”

The supervisor said the history and tradition of American government was “built by healthy discourse” and “joint commitment to serving the people.”

She said with this legacy in mind, members of the new town board have met and discussed a joint vision on how to best serve Southampton residents moving forward.

Throne-Holst outlined five areas of priority the town board has already decided on for 2014: water quality; affordable housing; police, public safety and code enforcement; addressing the needs of “aging and increasingly inefficient” infrastructure (a list she said is “dizzyingly long”); and having conversations with neighboring governments to “explore efficiency and cost savings to possible shared services, joint projects, emergency management,” among other initiatives.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst addresses the crowd at Southampton Town Hall Monday.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst addresses the crowd at Southampton Town Hall Monday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Throne-Holst said Larry Cantwell, the newly elected East Hampton Town supervisor, has already expressed his interest in such a “two town initiative.”

Throne-Holst underscored the new town government has “a commitment to representing in a cohesive and productive way where we will strive to exemplify government the way we believe it should be.”

“We have together,” she added, “stated a commitment to working together to see our goals move forward, with each of us focusing on several specific projects or areas as part of seeing them all done.”

Throne-Holst asked for the public’s involvement in outlining goals and moving forward, as well as holding the elected officials accountable in their commitment to put party and individual interests aside.

“Hold our feet to the fire,” she said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst with her children, Nick, Sebastian, Karess and Max (from left to right). (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst with her children, Nick, Sebastian, Karess and Max (left to right). (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Also taking the oath of office Monday were four Southampton Town Trustees, incumbents William Pell IV and Eric Schultz, who were sworn in together by Justice Steven Lynch, as were newcomers Scott Horowitz and Raymond Overton. Trustee Edward Warner, Jr. could not attend the ceremony but took his oath beforehand.

Entering her third term as town clerk, Sundy Schermeyer, accompanied by her grandfather, who turned 95 on Saturday, was sworn in by Councilwoman Christine Scalera.

Southampton Town Justices Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson also took the oath of office Monday and re-elected Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor was sworn in to his second term.

“We’re no supermen or superwomen,” Gregor said to the room of elected officials, “we’re just men and women — part of our community that want to help it.”

“I love the people of Southampton,” he continued, “because they have no problem telling me what they think at any time…To our fellow elected officials, we’re all stuck with each other, so maybe we oughta [sic] try to make it work.”

Sagaponack and Bridgehampton Residents Criticize Proposed Changes to Bridge Lane Bridge

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By Tessa Raebeck

Some 30 residents of Sagaponack and Bridgehampton came to the Bridgehampton Community Center last Wednesday night to express their concerns over a project they say will change the face of their home — the rehabilitation of the bridge that gives Bridge Lane its name.

Alex Gregor, highway superintendent for Southampton Town, hosted a public forum on the bridge restoration project, a multi-faceted restoration to improve safety. The project, residents say, has unnecessary changes that, in addition to altering the character of the bridge, will pose greater risk to the pedestrians who use it for crabbing, fishing and swimming.

“That bridge is part of our rapidly vanishing hometown,” said Marilee Foster, a Sagaponack farmer who serves on the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Lisa Duryea Thayer, a Sagaponack Village trustee, called the project “very offensive to the character of our area.”

Built in 1923, the bridge is not new to controversy. When Suffolk County owned the bridge and attempted to demolish it and replace it with a modern steel structure in the 1980s, residents fought a five-year battle to keep it, culminating successfully in 1988.

“This whole battle,” recalled Donald Louchheim, mayor of Sagaponack Village, “was fought out for exactly the same reasons that you are giving today…now in effect, the town is reneging on the commitment that it made 25 years ago.”

Costing between $890,000 and $1 million, the project would widen the two traffic lanes, repave the roadway approaching the bridge on either side, replace the guardrails, put in drainage, replace the seawalls on either side and install leaching pools — pits that absorb liquid into the soil.

“Please believe me,” Gregor told the disgruntled crowd, “I don’t like to spend a million dollars on something unless we have to.”’

The travel lanes, currently at about 8.5 feet, need to be widened to today’s standard of 10 feet, Gregor said, which would leave no room for a sidewalk on the bridge.

“I grew up next to that bridge,” said Sagaponack resident and former mayor Bill Tillotsen. “I’ve swum off of it, I’ve jumped off of it, I’ve fished off it … the sidewalk there is inadequate but without it you’re going to create a real funnel for traffic.”

Town officials began looking into funding for this project back 2005, before Gregor was in office. In 2006, an average of about 1,200 vehicles crossed over the bridge each day, according to the town.

By the time Gregor took office in 2010, he said, the town had already bonded close to half a million dollars for the rehabilitation project.

A federal grant for $500,000 was “one of the last Congressional earmarks that [Congressman] Tim Bishop got out in 2008,” Gregor said.

By accepting the federal aid, the town is required to keep the project consistent with federal and state regulations, which mandate many of the project’s elements which residents are highly critical, such as the widened lanes and new guardrails.

Cathy Gandel, co-chair of the Bridgehampton CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee), told Gregor, “you keep talking about safety — which we all want — but what makes you think that two 10-foot lanes with that guardrail [would improve safety]? People slow down now over that bridge because it’s narrow.”

“Tell the mayor and the trustees to get the cop there and write some tickets on the bridge,” Gregor responded.

Following the forum, Gandel’s husband, Earl Gandel, recalled a time in the late 1940s when international road races were held in Bridgehampton, with racers crossing over the bridge.

“We’re getting ready to change the nature of a bridge that I think a lot of people are really attached to,” Foster said. “I just feel really kicked in the face by this project because people love this place, people love the bridge.”

“I don’t think,” replied Gregor, “a 1923 bridge makes it historic, but I’m not going to insult historians in that.”

Several residents, along with Sagaponack Village’s consulting engineer Drew Brennan, asked Gregor to consider an alternative option that would make the basic repairs to the bridge without taking the federal grants that mandate the most aesthetically altering — and controversial —components of the project.

Brennan estimated that option would cost the town up to $700,000 and those in attendance asked Gregor to commit to looking into it.

“Our boards every month,” said Louchheim, “are struggling mightily to preserve as much as possible the rural and historic and scenic character of the Town of Southampton and quite frankly, the bridge is a vital part of that.”

Gregor said he and his team would consider the residents’ input and “regroup.”

“But,” he said, “I would be wrong in telling you I’m not still leaning forward.”

Linda Franke asked whether the public forum was just hosted as a gesture.

“It’s a condition and a gesture,” Gregor replied.

Anna Throne-Holst Wins Southampton Town Supervisor Race; Town Council Still Too Close to Call

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Incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst watches the election results with, from left to right, sons Sebastian and Max and daughter Karess on November 5.

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

It appears Independence and Democratic Party candidate Anna Throne-Holst has secured a third term as Southampton Town Supervisor, beating Republican challenger Linda Kabot.

Alex Gregor also had a strong showing Tuesday night in the race to keep his position as Superintendent of Highways, coming out ahead of challenger David Betts.

Several races remain undecided, with 879 absentee ballots yet to be counted, town council candidate Brad Bender said Wednesday.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, with 42 of 42 districts reported, Throne-Holst secured 7,081 votes, or 58.63 percent of ballots cast. Kabot earned 4,985 votes, or 41.27 percent.

“This was a hard fought campaign and I think what I would like to say is we are now the poster child for running a clean, above board, above the issues [campaign], talking about what really matters to people and not going down in the mud,” Throne-Holst said in her acceptance speech late Tuesday night at the Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton. “I think people recognize that we genuinely have been there to help, we genuinely have been there to make a difference.”

Kabot conceded the race late Tuesday and said Wednesday that she was unsure whether she would seek public office again.

“I’m very proud of my grassroots campaign, we focused on the truth,” said Kabot. “We’re dealing with a well-funded incumbent who has manipulated the facts to her advantage and ultimately, the voters have made their choice, so we move forward.”

Newly reelected County Legislator Jay Schneiderman called the night “a historic moment in the Town of Southampton,” reminding the crowd that no non-Republican supervisor has had a majority on the town board since Thiele was supervisor in the early 1990s. If either Brad Bender or Frank Zappone is elected, Throne-Holst will have a Democratic majority on the board.

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In the highway superintendent contest, according to the unofficial results, as of Wednesday morning Gregor had secured 7,259 votes, or 61.87 percent of the vote, earning him another term while 4,470 votes were cast for David Betts, giving him 38.1 percent of the vote

In uncontested races, Sandy Schermeyer was elected town clerk and Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson were appointed to the two open town justice positions.

With the remaining districts and absentee ballots yet to be counted, the races for two seats on the town board and five trustee positions are too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, the unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections places Republican Stan Glinka in the lead in the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of votes cast. Bender, an Independence party member cross-endorsed by the Democratic party, is in second place with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent. Trailing Bender by just 143 votes, Republican Jeff Mansfield has so far earned 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent of ballots cast. With 5,445 votes and 24.03 percent, Democrat Frank Zappone trails Mansfield by 158 votes.

“I think the indications are things are in a state of flux,” Zappone said Wednesday morning. “It appears as if there’s a significant number of uncounted votes — that could shift the standing significantly or not at all. It’s very difficult to tell at this point, so one has to be patient, sit back and see what evolves.”

Early Wednesday, Mansfield said he was busy driving around town picking up lawn signs and taking down billboards.

“It could be a lengthy process,” he said, “So we will respect the process and see what happens, but I think at this time it’s premature to say one way or another.”

Bender was likewise committed to removing campaign signs Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to let those people have their voice and let those ballots be looked at,” he said of the absentee ballots. “We’ll let the board of elections sort it out and we’ll celebrate when we have an actual result.”

Stan Glinka could not be reached for comment.

The race for Southampton Town Trustee, in which eight candidates vied for five available seats, also cannot be determined at this time. The candidates leading thus far are the three incumbents running; Bill Pell leads the pack with 8,933 votes, or 17.64 percent of votes cast. Eric Shultz has earned 8,746 votes, or 17.27 percent and Ed Warner, Jr. is in third place with 7,161 votes, or 14.14 percent.

Trailing the incumbents are: Scott Horowitz with 6,399 votes, or 12.63 percent; Raymond Overton with 5,436 votes or 10.73 percent; Howard Pickerell, Jr. with 5,163 votes or 10.19 percent; John Bouvier with 4,953 votes or 9.78 percent; and Bill Brauninger with 3,812 votes, or 7.52 percent.

All elected officials will take office on January 1, 2014.

Meeting to Discuss Traffic Calming By Cromer’s

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Noyac Road

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.

One More Meeting Before Town “Bites the Bullet” on Noyac Road Expansion

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Noyac Road Expansion adjusted

By Claire Walla


For Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, the town has been waffling long enough. Something needs to be done about Noyac Road.

“I think there’s just a point at which we have to take action that is effective before we see more tragedy,” she stated at a town board work session last Friday, February 10. “What are we going to do, wait for someone to get killed before we do something?”

The stretch of pavement in question curls at a small shopping complex between Bay Avenue and Cedar Lane, which includes Cromer’s Market to the east and the Whalebone General Store to the west. Addressing several accidents that have occurred in the area over the years — precisely 47 from 2008 to 2010, according to Southampton Town’s highway superintendent Alex Gregor — the town has sought to make traffic-calming improvements since at least 2003, when a hamlet study identified that intersection as a major traffic risk.

However, town government played hot potato with the project for years, passing it from Land Management to the Planning Board and then the Town Board, before the board finally passed a resolution at the tail end of 2009 to allocate funds to the Highway Department designated specifically for the road construction project.

“There are rumors in the community that the funding was taken away [from this project],” Fleming said at the meeting.

She spoke in reference to an “alert” that had been circulated the previous week by an organization called Spokespeople. The document conveyed the notion that Councilman Chris Nuzzi intended to defund the Noyac Road project.

However, Fleming continued, those rumors are “not true.”

She explained that there was a budget modification at the end of 2010, which reallocated funds that had been reserved for the Noyac Road expansion project to other road repair projects within the Highway Department. But, this was only because — by the end of 2011 — construction had still not begun in Noyac. Fleming reiterated that the money is in this year’s budget.

“It has been in place since 2009,” she added. “We’ve authorized it, and we’re behind that.”

According to Gregor, the reason construction has been halted has to do with indecision in the community as to the best way to execute traffic-calming measures.

The proposed plan — which includes laying in concrete curbing to physically separate the row of shops from Noyac Road — has been through at least 13 drafts, Gregor explained. The current model includes expanding the road slightly to the south and adding three concrete medians in the middle of Noyac Road, plus a left-hand turn lane into the shopping center from the eastbound traffic lane. It also proposes cutting off access from Bay Avenue to Noyac Road.

Currently, Bay Avenue (which runs alongside Whalebone) meets up with Elm Street to the west at a single point, essentially funneling traffic from two roads onto Noyac Road in one spot. This is a major area of concern for Ray DiBiase, an engineer with McLean and Associates, who conducted a traffic study of this section of Noyac Road for the town.

While a normal “T” intersection will have roughly nine total “conflict points,” or areas where traffic accidents are likely to occur; this intersection has 20.

To mitigate this situation, the current plan cuts off access to Bay Lane from Noyac Road. Instead, the parking area extends into the road with a crescent-shaped area DiBiase explained could be used for trucks to park while loading and unloading goods.

However, Whalebone owner Linda Heine opposes the current configuration laid out by the town. And she has a more significant stake than many: her family now owns the triangle of land between Bay and Elm that the town has proposed paving over.

“I agree that something needs to be done, but this is way too much,” Heine said.

She particularly cited issues with the proposed “loading zone,” saying trucks in the area would block visibility to her store; but she also said putting concrete barriers between the parking area and the road is “overkill.”

“I don’t know why the parking has become such a major concern,” she continued. “I understand the safety issue, but anyone who couldn’t back out safely shouldn’t be on the road.”

In the end, Heine said she recognizes the conundrum the town is in, but feels there’s a better way for town officials to address the traffic problems.

In line with Heine’s concerns, the imposition of concrete barriers had some town council members questioning the need for such permanent adjustments — Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera wondered whether striping or rumble strips might be installed instead, and Councilman Jim Malone asked about traffic cameras as a way to prevent speeding in the area.

Both Gregor and DiBiase agree that more permanent fixtures were necessary to not only calm traffic, but prevent cars from swerving on the road.

“They call it a friction theory,” Gregor explained. “If your feeling is that the road is getting smaller, it forces you to drive slower.”

He cited the concrete median outside North Haven Village Hall as a successful example of this concept.

“Our responsibility is to everyone,” Gregor continued. “But, mostly the people walking and cycling the roads.”

Fleming added, “One of the things I’ve heard more and more is that if you make the roads safer for bicyclists, you make them safer for cars, as well.”

Noyac Civic Council President Elena Loreto agreed that something needed to be done. “Let’s face it, it’s dangerous,” she said. “As a bicyclist, I no longer ride on that road because it’s dangerous.”

However, she doesn’t believe the town’s current plan will satisfy all needs.

“I think maybe they need to look at the plan wish fresh eyes and come up with something different, because obviously some of [the plan] is not amenable to some of the store owners,” she said. “It doesn’t mean the town should stop, but maybe we should go back to square one.”

Last week’s meeting concluded when Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst reiterated her commitment to getting something done.

“Let’s have one more meeting,” she continued. “Let’s get as critical a mass [as we can] together at once, then after that I think we need to just bite this bullet and do it.”

Though an exact date and time have not yet been set, the town board is expected to hold a special meeting during the first week in March to address the proposed Noyac Road expansion plan.

Leaf Program Leaves Landfills in the Dumps

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By Claire Walla


The Southampton Town leaf pick-up program has changed this fall in an attempt to streamline and speed up the whole process. But Southampton Town Board members now worry that the new program may put a strain on another town department.

“It seems the costs are being shifted,” said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming at a meeting last Friday, October 21. “That’s why I called this work session.”

Board members heard from the town’s Director of Facilities Management, Christine Fetten, who expressed concern that this year’s leaf pick-up program would create more work for her employees.

In an attempt to make the leaf pick-up process more efficient in the fall, Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor created a program that eliminates brush from the fall pick-up routine. Instead, residents will be issued vouchers that will allow them to bring sticks and small branches to one of three town service stations in Westhampton, Hampton Bays and North Sea. Residents will still be able to put their leaves by the side of the road for pick up, but they will be required to bundle them into town provided paper bags, rather than leave them in loose as has been done in years past.

With more residents and private carters bringing brush and loose leaves to the town’s waste disposal facilities, Fetten said employees at each site will need to spend more time monitoring these drop-offs. Employees will also have to physically hall the materials left by residents and private landscapers from the drop-off site to the compost pile site at the back of the facility. (Only town employees are permitted on site.) This, she said, will require more workers.

So far, Fetten said she already expects to see about a 176-hour shortfall of man-hours each week. While she said her department wouldn’t be forced to hire any more full-time employees, it will have to dip into the emergency funds set aside for part-time hirees.

“We’ve never tackled this kind of a program before,” Fetten said on Friday. “One of our great concerns is we have a limited number of payloaders, and they’ve been operating non-stop since [Tropical Storm Irene].”

In an interview on Monday, Fetten further explained that her department will try to work with the vehicles it has on hand, and will only resort to leasing a more powerful yard truck should the work load demand it.

The other obstacle comes by way of the paper bags residents will be required to use to gather leaves.

“In order to make this an effective program — for which these bags are composted — you have to water them,” Fetten continued.

Bio-degradable paper bags are being required this year because Gregor — who couldn’t make it to last Friday’s meeting and was unavailable this week for comment — has previously explained that using bags will quicken the collection process for highway department personnel.

But Fetten said the durability of these two-ply paper bags makes them difficult to compost without extra manpower. While she said it’s “not totally improbable” to use water at the service stations to break down the bags, it would be problematic.

In a meeting with the highway superintendent earlier this month — shortly after she learned the details of the new leaf pick-up program —Fetten said she requested that highway department personnel physically rip the bags open when the leaves are taken to the service station. She said the processors on site may not otherwise be powerful enough to break the paper bags down. As of this week, Fetten said she has yet to revisit the issue with Gregor.

“We really didn’t anticipate this,” Fetten continued. “ But I believe that we might be able to work certain things around … We might have to dip more into our over-time or part-time budgets, but I think we’ll be able to manage [the work load] within the budget we have right now.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst expressed concern that Fetten may have to dip into monies that have been set aside for emergencies, when the department is forced to take on extra labor: like during last year’s excess of snow storms and this year’s Tropical Storm Irene.

“The loose-leaf program that was proposed [in years past] seemed to work very well,” she added, but “at this point, it would be too late to modify the information that’s been submitted to the public.”

In addition to a leaf forum Gregor held last spring, fliers about this year’s fall program have already been distributed.

Fetten continued, “I don’t know how to make the program better at this point.”

Southampton Town Leaf Pickup Program Gets Revised

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By Claire Walla

For many, one of the benefits to living in Southampton Town is that, come fall, when nature’s dead weight begins to blanket the earth, the town’s highway department will come to the rescue. Residents have traditionally been able to pile leaves along the side of the road in preparation for highway department personnel, who swoop by in a garbage truck and suck-up the lifeless debris.

This year, however, Southampton Town’s Leaf Pick-up Program will be a little different.

Though the leaf program will not be entirely discontinued, Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor hopes curbside pick-up will be greatly reduced. The superintendent will introduce a voucher program this year, through which residents will be allowed to dump up to eight yards of leaf waste at one of several transfer stations that will be set-up near each hamlet and residential district within the town. There will be two locations in Noyac, two in Bridgehampton and one in North Sea.

“What we’re trying to do is end the practice of landscapers indiscriminately dropping leaves on the side of the highway,” Gregor said.

He noted that illegal dumping increased about four or five years ago when landscapers were barred from dumping leaves for free at town transfer stations. Instead of paying fees, Gregor explained, many landscapers began leaving loose piles even in non-residential areas in Southampton Town. (All leaves are required to be left curbside directly in front of the residence from which they came.)

Especially this past year — after East Hampton Town officials eliminated leaf pick-up service entirely — Gregor explained there’s been an influx of illegal dumping of leaves in Southampton Town. He said the problem is prevalent in areas close to the town line in Wainscott and Bridgehampton, primarily along sections of Sagg Main.

“It’s a safety problem,” Gregor continued, explaining that this year oversized piles of leaves created notable road hazards for cyclists, school buses and snow plows, which at times found no place to leave excess snow. Plus, he added, “we’re trying to keep the drains clean.”

Residents who are 73 years of age or older and those with special needs would be able to dispose of loose leaves in front of their properties as before.

All other residents who decide not to participate in the voucher program will be required to place leaves in brown paper bags (available for purchase through the highway department or at Loews) before leaving them by the side of the road for pick-up. Highway department employees will still make one round through all residential areas of the town in order to pick-up the bags. Loose leaves will be passed over, as will twigs and brush, which were also left uncollected this year.

“I’m trying to encourage people to take advantage of the voucher program,” he said.

“I know it’s not a popular thing, but I have to look out for the general welfare of the people who use the roads,” Gregor continued. “It’s a no-win situation because there’s nothing you can do to make everyone happy.”

This year the leaf pick-up program cost about $1.2 million and the town collectively generated almost 50,000 yards of leaves and brush.

Gregor argued that with about eight employees for each of the six highway districts under his jurisdiction, “the amount of leaves and the amount of homes is just overwhelming.”

Despite being forced to downsize the program, Gregor is requesting $750,000 from the town to bolster the leaf program, money that — if obtained — would actually make it possible for the highway department to reinstate loose-leaf pick-up. This would be used to hire up to 23 part-time employees for the pick-up program and the purchase of 12 garbage compactors (two per district), which can collect a significant amount of leaves — more at one time than the garbage trucks the town currently uses.

“The only way [too keep the leaf program as is] is to really hit it hard with a lot of equipment and a lot of man power,” Gregor said.

However, Gregor said a town board resolution would need to be passed before the end of this month in order to make this a ballot initiative in November. He has yet to hear back from any members of the town board.