Tag Archive | "Chuck Neuman"

Town Considers Banning Trucks on Noyac Road

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By Claire Walla

It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start.

When Noyac residents gathered two weeks ago at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center to discuss their distaste for the 2011 plan to calm traffic on Noyac Road, one of the many ideas tossed out from the crowd was a measure to limit commercial truck traffic on that strip of roadway between North Sea and Sag Harbor Village.

And at a Southampton Town board meeting last Tuesday, April 10, board members unanimously agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter. (This will take place Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m.)

The idea was pushed by a handful of people at that Noyac community meeting, but it’s an idea Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said goes back a good number of years.

“There’s just been such an explosion of traffic on that road,” she said.

The effort to limit trucks was brought about in earnest in 2004 when the town conducted a hamlet study of Noyac. In addition to the current traffic issues concentrated on the curl in the road near Cromer’s Market, the frequency of large, 18-wheeler trucks along the narrow, single-lane, shoulder-less roadway was of concern.

“When you live here, after a while you become blasé about it,” said Noyac resident Chuck Neuman, who is also the former president of the Noyac Civic Council. “But, when you think about it, it’s a quality of life issue. I live about 500 feet away from the road, and when [trucks] break, I hear it!”

According to the current draft of the law, the measure (if enacted) would ban all commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds that aren’t traveling Noyac Road for a pre-approved purpose. School busses and delivery trucks with designated stops on Noyac Road would be allowed, for example. But commercial trucks using Noyac Road as an alternative route to Highway 27 would be banned, and subject to fines.

Throne-Holst said the reason why this measure was largely overlooked in the past is because the original plan included the construction of weigh stations in order to regulate truck traffic. These would cost a pretty penny to implement, and the thought made many residents pessimistic of the town actually going through with putting such a structure in Noyac, or North Sea.

But Throne-Holst said the current plan is for this new law to be upheld by law enforcement.

In addition to the issue with weigh stations, Throne-Holst added that there was some skepticism surrounding the viability of a plan to enforce traffic restrictions without the town implementing a comprehensive, town-wide plan for traffic. While this is still waiting in the rafters of town hall, Throne-Holst said she hopes this might be the start of an effort to create a town-wide transportation plan. But, even so, she said Noyac Road is “well situated” for the proposed ban on commercial trucking.

According to town records, there are currently several roadways in the town of Southampton that limit commercial truck traffic—most of them small side roads—including Hildreth and Carroll streets streets in Sag Harbor. And, as Supervisor Throne-Holst pointed out, many smaller roads that lead in to Noyac Road currently impose trucking restrictions, which would make it a bit easier and even logical to regulate traffic on Noyac Road.

Noyac resident Linda Heine has been at the helm of efforts to control traffic out in front of Cromer’s Market. As the owner and operator of the Whalebone Gift Shop in that same shopping complex, Heine has held strong opinions of the various plans the town has put forth in an effort to take traffic-calming measures.

After expressing a deep dissatisfaction with the town’s most recently proposed effort to increase traffic safety near her store—plans which included cutting off access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road and creating several concrete medians—Heine said she was pleased the town seemed poised to scale back.

“I really appreciate the fact that Supervisor Throne-Holst was willing to re-think it and look at alternatives,” she said this week.

Of the concept of banning commercial truck traffic, Heine said, “it’s a very interesting thought.” She admitted the volume of large trucks on Noyac Road is an issue, even pointing out that in the span of just a few minutes last Tuesday morning, she counted four large trucks zoom passed her house, which sits on Noyac Road.

However, she admitted the issue is not at the forefront of her thoughts at the moment. She said she’s not sure the measure will directly affect the need for calming traffic.

“No matter what kind of vehicles you have on Noyac Road, the whole key to traffic-calming is slowing traffic down,” she said.

Noyac’s Civic Council Ponders its Purpose

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Frustrated by what he sees as a lack of forward movement with town issues, Noyac Civic Council president Chuck Neuman asked his membership on Tuesday evening if the council should consider a different direction. The group, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004, is charged in its charter with addressing “quality of life” issues in the community, and for much of the past decade or so has become more politically active.

But Neuman bemoaned the fact that key issues such as calming traffic along Noyac Road and finding an adequate location for a new community house, have gotten little traction from the Town of Southampton. And considering the economic downturn and the town’s current fiscal worries, it appears they will not be addressed in the near future.

“We have done an awful lot of work with town-oriented issues, but have not accomplished much,” observed Neuman at the start of the council’s regular monthly meeting. He noted, in fact, they were unable to attract a guest speaker that evening, a spot usually featuring an official from the town.

Neuman said little had come of a hamlet study conducted by the town seven years ago, except for a zoning change on a piece of commercial property.

“There was even supposed to be a determination of our boundaries, which never came to fruition,” he said. He added the town had spent about $180,000 on just three studies for Noyac, which had not resulted in a project.

“I’d like to say we accomplished a lot, but I can’t,” he said. “We just couldn’t get things going.”

Instead, Neuman turned the meeting into a general discussion of where the civic council should concern itself.

“I would like to get into a little reorganization of the organization,” said Neuman, who observed he is one of only two presidents who have served more than six years in the council’s history.

“There is no doubt in my mind, to do this for eight years, mistakes start,” he said. “I don’t have the energy to fight the same battles over and over.”

 “What happened to our activity at the school,” wondered Vince Starace. “It’s the biggest part of our tax bill.”

In the past two or three years in particular the civic council has devoted considerable energy to school matters, and has established its own school affairs committee to monitor the Sag Harbor School District. Since the last school board election and budget vote this past June, however, the council’s attendance at school board meetings has waned.

Neuman did brighten, though, recalling the council had helped elect Wes Frye to the school board two years ago.

“We have had some successes,” he said.

He noted, though, the organization had “been on the verge of being something different — something of a taxpayers organization,” and wondered if that was the direction the council should continue in.

“We’ve got to keep going forward,” urged Tom Baldassari, who, along with Diane Hewett and Ralph DeSpigna, had just been elected to the council’s board of trustees that night. “When we started going to the school, it brought the civic council and the community together.”

Others suggested the council did more than behave as a political action group.

“We have been very charitable, and I’d like to see us do more of that,” suggested Elfriede Winkle. ”We do good, and people should know that.”

Neuman agreed: “We’ve done a lot of good with our charity endeavors. We hardly say ‘no’ to anyone.”

In the end, the dozen members present agreed to send out a survey to its estimated 500 members, polling them on what the council should address.

“We have to ask ourselves a question, ‘How should we be in the future,’”said Neuman. “Should we be more political? Should we be advocating for quality of life issues? Should we be just the way we are?”

Difference of Opinion in Noyac

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By Bryan Boyhan

Following an informative, but uneventful presentation on the benefits of becoming more environmentally sensitive, things erupted at the monthly meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday night when a sharply divided room of Noyacans argued over whether or not there was to be a discussion about the proposed Sag Harbor school budget.

Chuck Schwartz, and environmental engineer and executive director of LI Green was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting and offered a slide presentation that focused on how individuals can be more responsible in conservation and protecting the environment. It was a healthy choice, Schwartz told the audience of about 40, for both the individual and the planet.

Among his suggestions was getting a free energy audit from his organization, which is funded by Stony Brook University, consider alternative ways of heating and powering residences with geothermal or solar energy, and being careful not to use toxic materials when landscaping, instead using organic fertilizers or pesticides — or even learning to be tolerant about pests.

“I believe there is a great opportunity for growth opportunities in green businesses,” said an optimistic Schwartz.

But it wasn’t the environment that many in the audience had come to talk about.

As civic council president Chuck Neuman was about to call for a motion to close the meeting following Schwartz’s presentation, Peter Solow, a teacher at Pierson High School and Noyac resident, stood and wanted to know what had happened to a discussion about the school budget.

The council had intended to have the discussion and take a straw poll at their last meeting, in April, but Neuman demurred at the time, saying instead he would try to reach out to the membership through email to take a survey.

And here’s where things got confusing.

“I’m concerned,” said Solow to Neuman. “I received an email from you saying that there would be a discussion of school matters tonight.”

Neuman then apparently glanced at a copy of the email that had been sent to civic council members and asked Solow: “Tell me where it says we’re going to talk about school?”

What followed was a heated debate about whether Neuman had intended to have a discussion about the school’s budget, or if Solow and others — many of them part of a growing membership of parents with children in the district — had simply misunderstood. At the April meeting there were several dozen parents and others in the school community who had attended, clearly expecting a discussion about the budget.

They were attracted, said Solow, by an email sent to council membership by Neuman urging their attendance that read, in part:

“But, please, one more time, your presence is needed at our upcoming meeting on the 14th, so that we may discuss our stand on this school budget. Do we either accept it as an exercise in futility, or openly voice our opposition with the intention to vote against it?”

That discussion never happened, and instead Neuman said he would take a poll using his email list, but conceded this week, it was not particularly successful, receiving only slightly more than 20 responses, only 16 from dues-paying council members.

“If you care to participate in this poll – unscientific and not confidential – please, do so,” he wrote in the email that accompanied the survey and meeting announcement. Neither indicated there would actually be a discussion of the results or a straw poll.

 “I think it would be beneficial to have a public and open discussion to share our thoughts,” urged Solow. “We came to the last meeting thinking there would be some discussion of the school and budget. And we came to this meeting thinking there would be a discussion.”

Neuman indicated the results of the poll were not significant and added, “I was asked to take a poll, but those who asked did not understand the ramifications, that it would not be private.” He said later the civic council was taking steps to find a more private way of conducting an electronic survey.

Gary Goldstein asked the council to refrain from announcing or declaring a position until there can be an open discussion about the budget.

“Does the Noyac Civic Council have an official position about voting for the school budget,”saked Tice.

“No,” declared Neuman.

Following the meeting Neuman revealed that the votes he had received from his email survey resulted in eight in favor of the budget and eight opposed.