By Marianna Levine
It was a night of heavy traffic at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Council. The Monday night meeting which drew a large audience including Southampton Town Council Members Nancy Graboski and Chris Nuzzi, Tom Neely, the Southampton Director of Public Transportation and Traffic Safety, and two candidates running for election in Southampton, Bridget Flemming and John McGann, was held primarily to talk about congestion on the streets of Bridgehampton.
Bridgehampton CAC President Fred Cammann had requested that representatives of the Southampton Police Force come to the CAC’s August meeting in order to listen to residents’ concerns. Town Supervisor Linda Kabot’s office sent Captain Anthony Tenaglia, and Officer Thomas Schmidt to converse with CAC members.
CAC member Peter Wilson started the discussion with “We’re all suffering from the back up on the highway. There’s a real conflict between the through traffic and local traffic. I do think the problem of the highway may be unresolveable but in the meantime our neighborhoods are being cut in half and eroded. People are a bit callous to the fact that there are homes here.”
Cammann stated, “There’s no question that everyone is on cell phones and speeding, but it’s a lot cheaper to solve the traffic problems than to fly more helicopters from here to Stony Brook.”
Capt. Tenaglia requested that residents be as specific as possible about their concerns noting, “we can’t take away the problems but we can try to be helpful.”
Several people who live on streets that are used to by-pass the highway, such as Lumber and Narrow lanes, aired their grievances. Everyone agreed the traffic was getting more severe and dangerous.
CAC Secretary Richard Bruce noted, “More and more people are discovering the back roads and it’s going to get worse.” He went on to request that the town focus less on parking tickets and more on catching speeding cars.
Amy Halsey, who lives on a by-pass road near the Bridgehampton School, made an impassioned plea for better patrolling of the back streets.
“The problem is that these streets are very narrow and suddenly we have heavy traffic coming through – trucks, big buses, moving vans, and any kind of equipment you want to tow, and these streets are too narrow for normal two way traffic in the first place,said Halsey. “I have seen many near collisions out my window. People will drive on the grass to get around slow traffic, and this all starts at 6 a.m.”
Halsey as well as several other residents mentioned that it gets hard to pull out of their driveways when traffic is heavy and moving at a high speed on these roads. They also complained about the lack of shoulders or sidewalks for bicyclists and pedestrians. Several people mentioned they no longer walk or bicycle in the hamlet because of the traffic.
Cammann stressed the biggest concern was for the children in the community. He told the town council members, “I don’t care if you never pave another road, but we should keep our children safe.”
CAC member Jeffery Vogel, who said he still likes to ride his bike in the hamlet, said “People are on their cell phones not paying attention and weaving around, and it gets extremely dangerous because they don’t respect the bike lanes when we have them.”
Another area of specific concern was the four-way stop on Ocean and Sagaponack roads. Cammann thought no one really understood how it was supposed to work. Shira Kalish thought the intersection was too large and that people couldn’t really see all the traffic clearly.
Wilson suggested, “ You need a traffic circle or traffic light to make it work.”
Halsey and others wanted some sort of resolution, which Cammann answered, was not what the CAC can do.
However, Capt. Tenaglia made some suggestions: “I have heard you, but you have to have realistic expectations of what we can do. Before you get to the boiling point, please call us.” He also said that perhaps during the summer they could put extra officers in a particular area, especially as the hamlet is such a busy sector.
In other CAC news, there was a brief discussion led by Councilman Nuzzi about the proposed amended membership rules for the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals and for the Town Planning Board. Although Nuzzi suggested that these bodies should make sure to have professionals in the field, Vogel cautioned that this might lead to more conflicts of interest. Nuzzi explained that the majority of the board would still remain lay people.
Also Vogel announced at the close of the meeting that the Bridgehampton CAC finally had a website that would post the meetings minutes as well as the CAC’s hamlet study.
Above: Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, a Bridgehampton resident speaks with Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia about controlling traffic in the hamlet.