By Stephen J. Kotz
The long anticipated or dreaded—depending on one’s point of view—road work at Cromer’s Country Market in Noyac was finished this week, with many taking a wait-and-see attitude about the project.
“I like it. I just don’t like when it was done. The timing was horrendous,” said Tony Lawless, the owner of Cromer’s. “I think we’ll need a year to see how it works.”
Linda Heine, the owner of the Whalebone general store, who said she had been opposed to the project “since day one,” is trying to be positive. “Will it work? That remains to be seen,” she said. “It is definitely easier to back up as long as someone is not speeding through the parking area.”
That happened, just the other day, she said, as she and a friend were standing in front her store watching traffic pass on Noyac Road. “Everyone was being very careful and moving slowly, and some guy came through the parking area at about 60 miles per hour to try to get around everyone else,” she said. “There is no cure for stupidity.”
“They wanted to calm traffic, slow it down,” said Mr. Lawless, but the new lanes are wide open and nice and level and it seems to have made it faster for cars moving west.”
A woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she was most concerned by the sharp turn on Noyac Road just west of the small shopping district. The other day, she said, a tractor trailer heading east hit the curb as it came around the bend, and the driver struggled to keep the rig on his side of the road.
The roadwork, which was finally begun this spring after years of argument over the scope of the plans, has shifted Noyac Road to the south and provided a two-way access road to the parking lot in front of Cromer’s and the Whalebone. businesses that is separated by a median from the main road, theoretically to make it safer for patrons of the stores. There are access points on either side of the business block.
An informal poll of customers at Cromer’s on Wednesday morning found few critics. “I like it. I think it is much nicer,” said Wojciech Sobolewski, a Riverhead contractor, who said he stops at Cromer’s regularly for breakfast. His work partner, Carlos Leonardo said he also liked the result, but suggested that diagonal parking spaces be put in next to the store to make it easier for vehicles to pull in.
Joyce Catalfamo of Westchester, who said she has been coming to the East End for 25 years, said she loved the new design. “It used to be a nightmare getting in and out,” she said.
Another woman, who would not give her name, said she was worried that there wasn’t a stop sign on the westbound exit from the parking area.
Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said on Wednesday that people have to give the project time. The highway department can tweak the design if needs be, he said.
“They are all critiquing a job that was done as of yesterday,” he said of those who have criticized the work. “It needs to be given a little time.”
He thanked the public for being patient during the project, which sometimes disrupted traffic and which was completed about a month behind schedule. Mr. Gregor blamed that on a delay in shifting utility poles, which set the whole project back.
He said the visual impact of the project will be softened when landscaping is added. “We don’t want it to look like Queens Boulevard,” he said.
Mr. Gregor added that the knew he couldn’t please everyone. “Some people don’t even want a road,” there he said. “But it’s the only other alternative, to Montauk Highway, to go east.”