Tag Archive | "Elm Street"

Back to the Drawing Board For Noyac Road

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Noyac Road, Tom Neely adjusted

By Claire Walla

“I think this is the largest community meeting of this kind that I have been to in my four-plus years in office,” exclaimed Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst as she looked out at more than 100 faces at a Noyac Civic Association meeting last Wednesday, March 28.

The public had turned out en masse at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center to weigh in on the town’s most recent version of a plan to reconstruct Noyac Road. Twenty-eight people spoke that evening, and all but one was adamantly opposed to the current 2011 plan detailing new traffic-calming measures to be implemented at the bend in the road near Cromer’s Market in Noyac.

Above: Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely addressed a packed house last Thursday at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center.

Complaints mostly hinged on the scale of the town’s blueprint, which most residents agreed was much too extreme for their bayside neighborhood.

“Of all the plans I’ve seen, this is about the worst,” said Ralph Dispigna. “If you want to destroy a neighborhood, this is the way to do it.”

Tony Lawless, who owns and operates Cromer’s Market, echoed most of the sentiments that night, saying the current plan would create more traffic, causing cars to drive into Pine Neck to avoid congestion.

“On any given day I could have three tractor-trailers pulling into here,” he said, pointing to the proposed parking lot, where the 2011 blueprint calls for a stop sign to be implemented. “Do we need tractor-trailers driving in here [Pine Neck] because they can’t get in here?”

He continued, “Elm Street is one of the narrowest roads in Pine Neck and you’re diverting all the traffic onto it.”

According to a survey drafted and tallied by the Noyac Civic Association (84 people responded to 350 surveys which were sent out) 56 percent of respondents said “No,” the 2011 plan does not accomplish its mission. And an even greater number of respondents, 65 percent, felt the plan would “change the rural character of Noyac.”

.Ultimately, when asked point blank whether they were in favor of the 2011 plan, 64 percent of respondents voted “No,” versus only 27 percent who voted “Yes.”

Noyac resident Jim Posner said he felt the town should “respect the survey.”

“We’re not engineers, but the surface of it shows that we’re against it,” he added.

Like many, he said speed bumps and stop signs — part of what he called “the ‘let’s take it easy’ approach” — would be a much better solution than concrete barriers.

“If we did step one, then we could see how it worked,” he continued, and if it doesn’t, “then we could go into a fancier plan.”

Ultimately, after listening to many reactions from community members, Throne-Holst submitted that the current plan would need to change.

“I think what we’re hearing first and foremost is that this is overkill,” she said. “We have to take a giant step backward.”

The effort to improve the bend in Noyac Road near Cromer’s was first established on a town-wide level eight years ago when a 2004 Hamlet Study identified the potential dangers on that stretch of pavement. A year later, the town’s first conceptual plan for reconstruction involved adding a concrete barrier between the road and a proposed parking area in front of the commercial businesses on the north side of the street.

The plan also called for blocking access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road, making it only accessible via Elm Street.

Six different iterations of the original plan surfaced over the years — all of them blown-up into large color posters, which peppered the walls of the Nutrition Center last week — the last of which seems to have brought on the most controversy.

The 2011 Conceptual Plan, like the original, proposes adding a concrete median between newly created parking spaces, in front of The Whalebone and Cromer’s Market, which wraps around Bay Avenue, cutting off direct access to the neighborhood. Like the original plan, cars would be forced to access Bay Avenue from Noyac Road by first turning onto Elm Street, then taking a right onto Bay.

Keith Schumann, who said he was representing the next generation of Noyac residents and just so happened to be a former traffic engineer, said he, too, believed the 2011 plan was too drastic.

This plan also requires cutting into the triangle-shaped property where Bay and Elm join — a piece of land belonging to Whalebone owner Linda Heine. Even though the town has drafted plans that build over that patch of dirt, Heine said last week that she was “offended” by the town’s intent to build over it.

“That piece of property is owned by my family,” she told the crowd. “I was told it wouldn’t be touched unless we wanted to give it away.” And, she said, they don’t. (Throne-Holst later stated that the triangular piece of land would not have to be touched in order to implement traffic-calming measures.)

Heine said she preferred the 2009 Plan over the 2011 iteration, saying it was much more “friendly.”

Resident John Anderson, who has lived in Noyac for 50 years, didn’t object to any of the statements made that night. Rather, he simply called for action.

“Sometimes, backing out of those spaces [at Cromer’s], you’ve gotta say your prayers!” he exclaimed.

“We’ve been talking about this problem off-and-on for 10 years,” he continued. “And I’ve seen faces here I’ve never seen before. My great concern is that we’re going to spend another 10 years talking about it.”

He paused before continuing, making his message was loud and clear.

“For crying out loud, let’s fix it,” he exclaimed, making no attempt to contain his passion. “Can the powers that be make some decisions?”

According to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, the town is now hoping to implement striping, rumble strips or stop signs before the start of the summer season. While the supervisor is also exploring the idea of preventing commercial trucks from traversing Noyac Road, an idea some in the audience seemed to favor, he said this is something that would take a lot longer to implement and would require an additional public hearing and a resolution by the board.

Homeless No More

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By Claire Walla

When howling winds from Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the East End last month, hundreds of tree branches snapped and entire tree trunks were split in two — locally, perhaps none more memorable than a tree in Pine Neck. The trunk practically burst open in the midst of the storm, splaying bits of bark in various directions only to reveal a hollow gap in the trunk’s interior, where trio of baby raccoons had made their nest.

An image of one of the four-week-old cubs made the front page of The Express the week following the storm, its furry body dwarfed by thick slabs of wood and its characteristic black mask slanting downward, almost giving the creature a worried expression as it stared out at the photographer.

Without their home and with the loss of their mother — who couldn’t be found after the tree collapsed — the creatures were destined for their demise.

Baby animals too young to survive on their own are often put in the care of local wildlife rehabilitators who volunteer their time nurturing them until they can safely be put back in the wild. It’s standard protocol. But not for raccoons.

Along with skunks and bats, wildlife rehabilitators are prohibited from caring for raccoons by the Suffolk County branch of the New York State Health Department. Instead, skunks, bats and raccoons that are wounded or are not entirely self-sufficient must be destroyed because they are deemed rabies-vector animals. (According to Ginnie Frati, Executive Director of the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, rabies is most common in these three animals, though it has not been reported in Suffolk County in the last few years.)

This would have been the case for these three cubs, had it not been for one fortunate coincidence.

As Irene gained momentum on the morning of August 28 and most East End residents were hunkered down in the comfort of their own homes, John (not his real name) was out driving around and taking pictures of the storm. That’s when he came up roughly 15 people gathered around a tree on Elm Street in Pine Neck. And when someone told him the tree was home to three baby raccoons, he exclaimed, “That was like hitting the lottery!”

A member of the Wildlife Rescue Center’s rescue team, he scooped them up in his grey, plastic rescue tub — which he always keeps in his car — and immediately took them home.

Even though it’s illegal for Suffolk County residents to do so (which is why his real name is being withheld for this article), John said he couldn’t help it.

“I grew up with raccoons, I had them as pets,” he explained. “So when I saw them in the tree, I immediately went into action.”

The cubs are now living in John’s backyard somewhere in the greater Sag Harbor area. He says they follow him wherever he goes and to demonstrate, he places all three cubs in the grass. They immediately swirl around his feet — and when he begins to walk the trio trails behind his every step, prompting an impromptu game of follow-the-leader.

The raccoons are kept inside a lidded wooden crate originally built for storing firewood and most recently used to store scuba diving equipment — not because John is worried animals might run away, but to protect them from predators.

“A local male raccoon would kill these babies if it had the chance,” he said. “Raccoons are very territorial.”

So with a modest tree branch inside the box for décor, the raccoons’ makeshift habitat is cleaned regularly and the creatures are fed a diet of liquid nutrition like Similac, baby food and the gravy from canned dog food. (The meatier pieces are put outside in the yard “for the local raccoons.”) While John said it’s taken the babies a while to transition into solid foods, he’s finally at a point where he can begin serving hot-dog pieces and slices of watermelon.

“What I really should be doing is taking them to the cove and looking for crabs and clams,” he said. With an appetite for local sea life, the hope is that the critters might be more inclined to avoid dumpster diving in the future. Although, John also pointed out, those efforts might be fruitless: “They just eat everything.”

According to John, there are several people like him on the East End who harbor raccoons illegally.

“We do everything we can to get the babies back with their mother,” said Ginnie Frati of the Wildlife Rescue Center. “But someone is really supposed to bring them to us for euthanasia.”

Unfortunately, Frati continued, some East End residents will call trappers to get rid of raccoons, and often the animals are drowned. While other parts of New York State can issue rabies-vector-species licenses for wildlife rehabilitators, such licenses have been banned in Suffolk County since 2004.

“I’ve been fighting this for years,” she continued, noting that there is a large population of raccoons on the East End. “In baby season we probably get about one to two calls a day. It’s heartbreaking for us to take the calls.”

As far as John is concerned, the rules in Suffolk County are a bit extreme. While raccoons have been known to carry rabies, he feels the animals have been unfairly singled out. Any number of animals can carry a whole host of diseases, he added.

“My neighbor believes rescuing animals is a waste of time, that it interferes with the course of nature,” he continued. “And I understand that. But, I also believe that if it wasn’t for us, we wouldn’t have to be out here rescuing them.”

John said most of the rescues he’s gone on have been influenced by humans in one way or another, whether it’s a deer that’s been hit by a car or a squirrel that’s ingested anti-freeze.

He plans to let the three raccoons go in November, if not sooner, when they’re big enough to survive on their own. He plans to take them to a place that’s relatively rural.

“I’ll build a box for them and set it up with some food,” he explained. “Then I’ll get in my car and go… and try to just keep driving.”