By Ellen Frankman
While mold festers in the basement of the Poxabogue Golf Center, Michael Avella waits. The chef and owner of the Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck is all set to begin his new venture in the space formerly known as the Fairway Restaurant, but a timely opening seems to be slipping further and further away.
At the June 17 Southampton Town Board Work Session, Town Management Services Administrator Richard Blowes assured the board that a discovery of mold is nothing new on the East End. “It certainly has not been an uncommon incident throughout Southampton Town and I’m sure everywhere in this type of climate,” said Blowes.
The issue has nevertheless proved alarming and far more significant than the town and those involved anticipated. Avella, who had hoped to open the Love Lane Café by the July 4 weekend, is now waiting patiently for the town to hire a contractor for the mold remediation project.
According to George Maul, a consultant with Insight Environmental hired by Southampton Town to investigate the problem, three major areas of mold growth exist: the walls of the basement, a rear portion of the café, and the closet of the pro shop.
“The basement is very significant. It’s heavily damaged and probably should be stripped down to the foundation,” Maul informed board members at the meeting. He also made it clear that a major roof leak is likely the cause of the mold, which is both growing and airborne in high concentrations.
In order to remediate the situation as efficiently as possible, Maul suggested isolating each of the three infested areas before gutting them. While his estimated cost of the project was between $40,000 and $50,000 (not including the price of the roof repair), outside contractors have entered quotes for the work as high as $90,000, numbers that both East Hampton and Southampton towns likely cringe at.
While Blowes assured board members that employees and patrons of Poxabogue are in “no imminent danger,” Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Flemming found the news rather alarming. Flemming, whose own child suffers from allergies, remarked that the town had an obligation to inform customers of the mold issue. Along with Flemming’s suggestion of a posted notice, recommendations were also made by Maul to seal off the air conditioning and pro shop closet so as to temporarily lower risks.
“I don’t think we can keep the shop open without some very clear notification to anybody who’s going in there,” Flemming stated.
The debate over whether or not the pro shop can remain open is still up in the air. While Maul appeared confident that the remediation work would take no more than a week, making it feasible for the golf center to stay open during its busiest season, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst suggested that shutting down Poxabogue briefly would allow for a more rapid and thorough gutting of the building. Either way, all seemed to agree with Maul that “time is of the essence” in handling the matter.
The cost is equally as important for the town. “We need to get a few comparative quotes,” said Throne-Holst.
Meanwhile Avella remains patient. With the intention of Poxabogue’s Love Lane Café having the same “look and feel and atmosphere of Love Lane Kitchen,” Avella emphasized that he is hoping to get into the space as soon as possible.
“I’m in this for the long haul. I believe we were the right people to put in there. If not this month, next month, and if not next month then the month after,” remarked Avella.