The proposed Mecox Sailing Association—which aims to set-up shop on Mecox Bay in Water Mill—has finally overcome environmental hurdles and now only faces backlash from a group of Water Mill residents as its application with the town remains on the table.
Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, the town of Southampton put the land where the former Mecox Yacht Club existed up for bid. It has been considering an application from the Mecox Sailing Association ever since.
Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin, who is overseeing the case, told town board members at a regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, September 13 that over the course of several public hearings they have heard enough information from both sides of the issue to make a decision on the matter. And she advised the town board to officially close the public hearing.
The application comes from a group of Bridgehampton and Water Mill residents who put an application together to refurbish the dilapidated building still sitting on Mecox Bay at the tail end of Bay Lane. The goal is to revive the former yacht club as a not-for-profit sailing association, which would offer small-scale sailing classes for kids, as well as sailing opportunities for Southampton Town residents.
“The vision that we seek to implement is to recapture the simplicity and timeless quality of the former Mecox Yacht Club, that has existed in this exact location the better part of the last century,” said Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield on behalf of the Mecox Sailing Association. “We hope to recapture this by creating a non-exclusionary, not-for-profit family-friendly sailing association, where local children can learn to sail and local families can enjoy sailing on Mecox Bay.”
The board had been waiting to make a decision on whether or not to enter into a license agreement with the applicant while the Southampton Town Conservation Board and the New York State Department of Environmental Conseravtion (DEC) surveyed the site. And on September 9, Garvin said the conservation board officially issued the town a wetlands permit, allowing the Mecox Sailing Association to develop the waterside property for the organization’s intended use.
Throughout the application process, the Mecox Sailing Association has been attacked by a group calling itself the Mecox Bay Alliance. Composed mostly of local homeowners, group members have primarily cited concerns with the potential for increased traffic on Bay Lane, the lack of parking at the end of the road and what they feel to be the exclusive nature of the association.
“The Mecox Sailing Association would not be a private club,” Mansfield said with an emphasis on “not.” The lead representative for the association, Mansfield has maintained that the sailing school would be open to all members of Southampton Town, and the Mecox Sailing Association would be in a lease-agreement with the town.
According to group’s intended plan, the school would remain in operation from May 15 through September 15 and would hold classes two days a week for children aged nine years and older, with classes of no more than 10 children at a time.
Furthermore, he said, “The Mecox Sailing Associaiton is not an attempt by a select few to secure a place to keep their private boats.” All boats held on the property, he added, would be “house boats,” and would not be privately owned by individuals.
The sailing association, he continued, would be for the “promotion of sailing for those in our community who are not fortunate enough to live on or near the water, and all those in our community who are not fortunate enough to afford a boat, a trailer, expensive mooring fees or private yacht club dues.”
According to Garvin, the Mecox Bay Alliance has filed suit against the town, challenging the credibility of the wetlands permit that was issued earlier this month by the conservation board. “This permit has been challenged in an order to show just cause,” she informed the board.
However, Garvin continued to say, “at least for this public hearing we have an idea of what the conservation board thinks of the project.” The board ultimately approved of it on the condition that the town brings a botanist on-site with Chief Environmental Analyst Marty Shea as plans move forward.