Tag Archive | "Mecox Yacht Club"

Mecox Sailing Association One Step Closer To Deal

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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.




Mecox Yacht Club Expected to Move Forward

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On Wednesday night, the Southampton Town Conservation Board is expected to approve plans for the development of the Mecox Yacht Club. According to Bridgehampton resident Jeffrey Mansfield the Mecox Sailing Association could be given license to run the facility by the Southampton Town Board as early as September 13.

During a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday night, Mansfield said that “all indications are we should get the permit” from the conservation board on Wednesday night. The Mecox Sailing Association received its wetlands permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation this past June, meaning all that would stand in the way of the yacht club’s future would be an agreement with the town board to allow the sailing association to operate the club at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.

If successful in front of the conservation board, Mansfield said he expects there will be a public hearing on the proposal during a town board work session on September 9 where the sailing association will make its pitch. Also expected to attend that meeting are a group of neighbors who have opposed the plan. Theoretically, said Mansfield, if the town board supports the proposal despite neighbors opposition, it could sign off on a license agreement as early as its September 13 meeting.

That would end a years long effort by a group of Bridgehampton residents to resurrect public sailing at the site, for all residents of Southampton Town. The sailing association plans are limited in scope. Members hope to provide sailing instruction to Southampton Town youth at the site, which now hosts a dilapidated building hidden amongst the reeds, as well as a place to store sailboats and equipment.

However, residents have expressed concerns over an increase in traffic as a result of the yacht club, as well as restricted access to the beach, which sailing association members contend would not occur if they are approved to run the yacht club.

The proposal has long had the support of the Bridgehampton CAC, as well as the Bridgehampton Historical Society and the Water Mill CAC.

“You have done a yeoman’s job here in trying to serve the kids of Southampton,” said CAC member Steve Steinberg to Mansfield on Monday evening.

“We probably wouldn’t have hung around so long if we didn’t think it was such a good thing,” said Mansfield. “It looks like this may happen sooner rather than later.”

Town board member Nancy Grabowski, a Bridgehampton resident who sat in on the meeting, said the yacht club proposal dates back close to a decade, noting its approval is “a long time coming.”

Mansfield added that at a time when more and more waterfront access denied to East End residents, he sees the creation of the yacht club — which will not require expensive dues and will provide equipment for residents who cannot afford their own sailboat ­— critical to continuing the historic connection to the water that residents have cherished for generations.

“This is a change to promote and preserve sailing on Mecox Bay for years to come,” said Mansfield.

CMEE Begins to Develop Plans for Walking Trails

On Monday night, Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) Executive Director and CAC member Steve Long announced tentative plans to create two walking trails north of the museum on land the organization already owns.

According to Long, the goal is to connect the children who visit CMEE to the natural diversity of the East End and in particular provide them an educational resource focused on the wonders of the Peconic Estuary.

The museum plans to partner with Group for the East End as well as the Southampton Trails Preservation Society in developing the venture.

After working with Southampton Town officials, Long showed two trails — one 700-feet and another 1500-feet — stretching to the northeast and northwest off an existing boardwalk that connects the parking lot with the museum.

While they may seem like short trails, Long added that for young children, a 700-foot trail is not a short distance to hike. The museum would work with Group for the East End to create markers identifying important aspects of the natural world for children to learn as they traverse the trails, he added.

Long said he would like to see the paths made wheelchair — and therefore stroller — accessible.

Long said the museum has already received a Peconic Estuary grant for the educational aspects of the trail and is working with the East Hampton and Southampton Garden Clubs to apply for a $25,000 grant to kick-start the trail system development.

The museum is looking at possibly building a boardwalk for the trail or using FilterPave, a porous pavement made entirely of 100-percent post consumer recycled glass.

The only drawback to FilterPave, which was suggested by Group for the East End, is while it allows light and rain to filter through the material, it would have to be situated on the ground and not in on an elevated boardwalk.

“As I said, this is still very much in the idea stage,” said Long, who noted there is an existing conservation easement on the trail land in question and the museum would need town approval to move forward.

“But before we started that process, we want to talk to people in the community, talk about what you think about the idea and how we can improve it,” said Long.

Mansfield said at places like the Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge, his young children particularly enjoy the boardwalk paths elevated over wetland areas and streams. The boardwalk, he added, gives the small children a height advantage from which to view nature.

CAC member Ian MacPherson also wondered if the museum could form a partnership with the South Fork Natural History Museum, its neighbor across the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike which has property that connects to the trail system of the Long Pond Greenbelt.

Long said that was certainly the hope, and the museum has been waiting on Suffolk County to finish a sidewalk project on the turnpike that will include a crosswalk connecting the organizations, and eventually, its trails.


Planning for the Mecox Yacht Club Site

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By Claire Walla

After a series of heated discussions last fall concerning plans to create a small sailing club on the site of the old Mecox Yacht Club, the issue was presented to Southampton Town Council members last Tuesday, January 11, with surprisingly little debate.

Assistant town attorney Katie Garvin informed the board that a full environmental assessment of the area has been completed and chief environmental analyst Marty Shea has reviewed the area to examine the wetlands that would be affected should such a project be implemented.

The next step is to apply for a wetlands permit through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), something Garvin suggests the town take on.

“We are looking at options and alternatives with the goal of reducing site disturbance,” Shea said at the meeting.  ”The DEC will work closely with us in developing a plan for the site.”

The issue will get a three-month hiatus, during which time town officials will assess the environmental assessment and decide whether or not to proceed with plans to secure a wetlands permit.

Jackets Not Required

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Jeffrey Mansfield and members of the Mecox Sailing Association are hoping to restore a way of life in the form of the old Mecox Yacht Club, which is now little more than a tumbledown shack on an overgrown piece of town owned property at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.

While the term “yacht club” immediately conjures up images of blue blazers, cocktail hour and snobbish exclusivity, Mansfield’s idea is far more modest — to resurrect the defunct Mecox Yacht Club of his youth which offered summer sailing lessons and was little more than a storage shed for a handful of 14’ Sunfish sailboats and equipment.

The club, in fact, had a long history in the area. In the1930s, long before many of the owners of the giant mansions that now line Mecox Bay were even born, there existed open views — an expanse of water unmarred by development. It was a place anyone, regardless of bank account or celebrity status, could enjoy. And then there was that “yacht club” whose mission was to teach local kids how to sail each summer.

Of course we live not in the 1930s, but in the litigious tens, and, citing a claim of traffic fears,18 neighbors have banned together and hired an attorney to fight Mansfield’s proposal. We suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s disheartening nonetheless and evocative of the “now that I have mine, I’ll do anything I can to keep you from getting yours” philosophy we’ve seen so much of in recent years — usually from those who have the most.

But let’s look at the facts…unless they come from a position of privilege, there are precious few opportunities these days for kids to get out on the water. The old Mecox Yacht Club made it a point to teach local children how to sail in the summers. We feel that’s an admirable mission and one that should be revived. Seeing a group of sailboats silently gliding across a body of water is a defining experience on the East End. We encourage Mansfield to follow the model of Sag Harbor’s Breakwater Yacht Club, a non-profit organization that charges modest fees to teach sailing to the community and also runs weekly races.

Mansfield’s already got the backing of both the Water Mill and the Bridgehampton CACs for his plan. He’s got ours too and we welcome the revitalization of the Mecox Yacht Club with open yardarms