Tag Archive | "Noyac Civic Council"

Gregor Offers Noyac Road Update to Civic Council

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on Tuesday said he was optimistic a long awaited construction project on Noyac Road at Cromer’s Market should be completed by the end of June.

Speaking to the Noyac Civic Council, Mr. Gregor said PSEG Long Island had finished moving electric lines serving the area to new poles and that he was waiting for Cablevision and Verizon to move their lines. Verizon crews will then be in charge of removing the old utility poles before DeLalio Construction begins to work on the road itself.

“Since we had such a hard winter, we had a hard time getting the utilities motivated,” said Mr. Gregor, who added that he hoped that the poles would be moved by the end of this month. “The contractor will need two months to complete the project.”

The project is expected to improve traffic at a busy and dangerous curve, improve traffic circulation to Cromer’s and other businesses and side streets, and reduce stormwater runoff.

Mr. Gregor was joined at Tuesday’s meeting by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Councilwomen Christine Scalera and Brigid Fleming and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

The town officials also answered committee members’ questions on other topics, including deer and the East Hampton Airport, although Noyac Road took center stage.

Improving the short stretch of road has proven to be a controversial project. First proposed seven years ago, the project went through numerous changes before ground was finally broken this year.

Mr. Gregor said that it had already been decided that Noyac Road is too busy even during the offseason for any work to be done on the weekends. Crews will work five days a week, he said, and try to keep two lanes open at all times. He said he expected the project to be wrapped up by the end of June, but if weather, or some other situation slows work and traffic becomes “too horrendous,” crews will not work on Mondays and Fridays during the latter stages of the project, to reduce traffic tieups around busy weekends.

Despite the fact that the project has been discussed for years, some council members said they were concerned it would not do much to improve traffic on the curve.

Glenn Paul said the new layout, which would require vehicles entering and leaving Cromer’s to do so at either end of the store’s parking lot, would result in tie-ups and more congestion.

“Do you think that will alleviate accidents at that spot?” he asked.

“That’s what we’re working on,” replied Mr. Gregor. “There has been some skepticism, but we think this is an improvement.

The highway superintendent said he expected a newly designed drainage system would dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater that runs down Bay Avenue and Dogwood and Elm Streets to the bay.

Mr. Gregor said he was pleased to report that he road work would cost about $521,000, well below initial estimates of $780,000 or more.

Other council members asked if a major repaving project on Montauk Highway from Southampton to East Hampton might result in traffic being diverted to Noyac Road, but Mr. Neely said there were no such plans, and he added that he expected contraction crews to have made their way through Bridgehampton, moving eastward, within three weeks.

Dorothy Frankel said she was happy to see the Cromer’s corner being dealt with, but said the time had come to do something to reduce speeding along the rest of Noyac Road. She suggested reducing the speed limit, adding lane dividers at key places or even designating part of the shoulders as bicycle lanes.

The only solution, Mr. Gregor said, was for the town to either increase the number of police enforcing the speed limit, which he said would provide spotty coverage, or installing a speed limit camera that would record a vehicle’s speed, take a photo of its license plate automatically generate a ticket.

Ms. Throne Holst said the town has requested that such cameras be placed along Noyac Road, but said that they are only legal in New York State in school zones.

“Speed cameras, we think, would be the perfect solution for Noyac Road,” she said, “Once you get that picture of your license in the mail and a whopping ticket, you start to notice it.”

 

East Hampton Plans Airport Noise Study

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By Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that the town would undertake a noise study this summer with an eye toward developing use restrictions at East Hampton Airport.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the town would take a somewhat novel approach that would seek to use both “noise averaging” data, which is typically required by the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as try to determine whether aircraft operations violate town law, which limits noise to 65 decibels during the daytime and 50 at night.

The town wants to have a consultant hired by early June, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The dual-pronged approach represents a compromise between two separate noise subcommittees the town board established earlier this year to advise it on airport issues. One of those subcommittees is made up exclusively of members of the aviation community and the other is made up of people who want the town to reduce noise coming from the airport.

Noise subcommittee members did not want the traditional noise averaging study done, which was recommended by DY Consultants, the town’s aviation engineering consultants, because it would take too long, cost too much, and not provide completely accurate information, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The town has a number of software programs that track not only the number of flights but the type of aircraft, whether it be a Sikorsky helicopter, a Gulfstream corporate jet or a Cessna single-engine plane, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. In addition, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said, whoever conducts the study will be able to obtain detailed operating decibel information from aircraft manufacturers to help them generate an accurate computer modeling to map noise as an aircraft leaves or approaches the airport.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez cautioned that the study would be preliminary in nature but stressed that it could be used to help determine what types of restrictions the town could consider imposing once some F.A.A. grant restrictions expire at the end of the year.

Separately, Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera has been appointed to the noise subcommittee. Ms. Scalera announced her appointment at Tuesday night’s Noyac Civic Council meeting just as a helicopter passed overhead, drowning out her words.

Southampton Town to Host Great East End Clean-up

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Southampton Town will host its annual Great East End Clean-up, April 20 and 21, encouraging residents to volunteer their time to remove litter from public roadways, parks, beaches and trails. Volunteers can select the public property they wish to clean up when they register at www.southamptontownny.gov.

Southampton Town will provide garbage bags, pick sticks and a free pass to the town recycling centers to dispose of the refuse for all volunteers. Supplies can be picked up by April 19 at the North Sea Transfer Station office between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or the Citizens’ Response Center between 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall.

The Noyac Civic Council is planning to participate with a clean up of Noyac Road on Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The NCC will meet at 9 a.m. at Trout Pond and volunteers will disperse from there. Small groups will work on sections of Noyac Road and Trout Pond from Whalebone Landing to the traffic circle at Long Beach. To sign up with the NCC, call 725-3304.

Airport Protests Continue in East Hampton

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Following a September 24 meeting of the multi-town helicopter noise committee, where representatives from the East End towns along with members of the Quiet Skies Coalition and the Federal Aviation Administration met to discuss airport noise and flight paths into the East Hampton Airport, this week a series of protests are planned. Next week, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will speak to one of the most affected communities — Noyac — about air traffic noise. That talk will take place at a meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, October 9 at the Bridgehampton Community Center at 7:30 p.m.

In an email sent to its followers, the Quiet Skies Coalition — a not-for-profit made up of East Hampton and Southampton residents — announced two new demonstrations at the East Hampton Airport, located on Daniels Hole Road.

Quiet Skies Coalition chairwoman Kathy Cunningham urged those affected by air traffic to converge for a peaceful demonstration this Wednesday, October 3 and Thursday, October 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The coalition has also planned a march on East Hampton Village on Saturday, October 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. starting at the small park in front of the Ralph Lauren RRL store. The march will follow village sidewalks south along Main Street, looping around John Pappas Café and along the Reutershan lot and back to the park.

Photography by Michael Heller

Throne-Holst & Scalera Face “Hostile” Residents Fed Up With Airport Noise

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By Amy Patton

In a room packed with Noyac residents at the Bridgehampton Community Center Tuesday night, the mood at the Noyac Civic Council’s (NCC) monthly meeting was decidedly hostile. Citizens bombarded Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera with queries regarding official actions they hope will be taken to control airport noise in the area.

The source of the aggravation is air traffic — particularly low-flying helicopters —using East Hampton Airport on a flight path that takes them over Jessup’s Neck on their way to and from Long Island Sound. It’s been a continual annoyance, many residents say, since early summer and an unacceptable burden of noise pollution from the sky.

“It’s certainly more than we’ve had in previous years,” noted Randy Ackerman, who said that the disturbances from aircraft seemed to accelerate over the summer months.

Ackerman, a member of the Noyac Civic Council who has lived on Tredwell Lane with her husband, Gary, for 10 years, added that her street receives a hefty bulk of the daily air traffic burden.

“When they fly over, the windows vibrate and our dog jumps up,” said Ackerman. “We were out in the garden over the past weekend and we could barely hear our conversation.”

Ackerman said that she and her fellow civic council members hope to work on “sharing the burden” of air traffic with residents of East Hampton through a “south shore route” flight path.

“It’s a safety issue as well,” chimed in Elena Loreto, president of the NCC. “With the amount of air traffic traveling over the Noyac area alone, there have been several near-misses of helicopters in the air.”

East Hampton’s airport, she said, “was built originally to serve local recreational pilots. It wasn’t designed to take on this heavy burden of commercial traffic that is impacting local neighborhoods this way.”

Supervisor Throne-Holst spent much of the evening trying to soothe the concerns of the residents, who have had ongoing complaints about aircraft noise. She added that Southampton Town is working on solutions based on the deluge of reports that have been received in the past 10 months from homeowners.

To that end, she added that a meeting will take place Monday, September 17, at Southampton Town Hall to address noise concerns “and find solutions.“ In addition to Throne-Holst and Scalera, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airport management team of East Hampton and representatives from the pilot’s association will be in attendance at that meeting which, she said, is not open to the public.

Another hot-button issue raised at Tuesday’s NCC meeting was the town’s proposed “traffic-calming” plan which has been designed to slow vehicles on Noyac Road in front of two of the halmet’s commercially-zoned properties — Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone General Store.

A raised median separating the commercial lot from the roadway and complete re-construction of Noyac Road (including the addition of a center island) has been proposed by Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor. The plan comes with a reported price tag of $480,000 and it drew vocal ire from a majority of attendees at Tuesday’s meeting.

Most of those who spoke railed against the proposal and agreed that “small steps” are needed instead to slow down traffic in the area. These include devices such as rumble strips, pedestrian crosswalks where drivers are mandated by state law to stop, and even, as a partial solution for traffic calming, blinking yellow “slow” or red traffic lights.

Tom Gustin, who shares a home with his wife in the Pine Neck section of Noyac near Cromer’s and the Whalebone, said traffic and quality of life in that area would be negatively affected by the plan.

“We don’t want it,” he said, to the applause of others in attendance.

Put Brakes on “Jake”

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By Amanda Wyatt

Elena Loreto, the president of the Noyac Civil Council, is enjoying a quiet moment gardening in her backyard. But in the middle of snipping some fresh flowers, her solace is interrupted by what sounds like a machine gun.

Of course, she knows it’s not a weapon. It’s merely another truck on nearby Noyac Road, using its “Jake brakes” to slow down around a curve. And for Loreto, this is an everyday occurrence.

“I am one block from Noyac Road, and I’m one block away from Trout Pond,” she explained. “I’m right at that curve. On an ordinary day, I hear the trucks using these brakes on Noyac Road. There’s no denying it. If they’re using them, I’ll hear them when I’m in my backyard. If I’m sitting on my deck, I’ll hear them. If my windows are open, I’ll hear them.”

With any luck, Loreto may find her street a bit quieter in the coming months, as the Southampton Town Highway Department takes new measures to prevent “Jake braking” and cope with other traffic concerns on Noyac Road.

For several weeks, a “no Jake braking” sign has been posted on Noyac Road, put in place by the town’s Superintendent of Highways, Alex Gregor.

“Little signs don’t work, so I got a big, in-your-face electronic billboard that I borrowed from the County Department of Public Works,” he said in an interview this week.

“What we’re asking is for the trucks to consider [on] the 9, 10 or 11 miles of Noyac Road that they don’t use their engine brake — that’s what a “Jake brake” is,” explained Gregor. “It’s an electric switch that makes the engine brake itself, rather than just depending on the brakes. But it does increase the noise level and it’s a residential area.”

Loreto recalled that this issue came up at a meeting in the spring, when Noyac residents met with local officials at a public forum to discuss problems on the road.

She also worried that using Jake brakes might mean that the truckers were speeding to begin with.

“If they’re doing the speed limit, which is 30 to 35, there’s probably no need for them to use these Jake brakes,” she claimed.

Gregor agreed that speeding was a major issue.

“Without a doubt, one of the biggest problems from noise, whether commercial or regular cars, is the excessive speeds,” he said.

There is currently no fine for “Jake braking” on Noyac Road, as there are in some parts of the country. However, Gregor hoped that local government officials would take his lead and ban the brakes as part of their town code.

At the same time, he also expressed his hope that truck drivers would stop “Jake braking” as a sign of courtesy to Noyac residents. Otherwise, he feared, there could be a larger effort to ban trucks from Noyac Road altogether. This would force trucks to travel on smaller back roads or already crowded main drags like Montauk Highway and Scuttlehole Road.

“No one [in Noyac] wants to stop their refrigerator from being delivered or a FedEx truck,” noted Loreto. “Our interest is getting a lot of the extra vehicles off Noyac Road that don’t belong here — the ones not making the local deliveries.”

In addition to “Jake braking,” Gregor is also planning to “upgrade the signage” on the road, warning drivers of upcoming bends and curves. He also hopes to put up additional signs showing how many accidents there have been on a particular stretch of the road within a given time.

For example, he noted, there have been a staggering 47 accidents near the Whalebone General Store and Cromer’s Country Market in the past three years alone. There has been an “extreme increase” in accidents in general, said Gregor, many caused by speeding.

Gregor said he has also been in talks with Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson, who said that they would ramp up radar enforcement on Noyac Road to the best of their ability.

“I’m hoping that they’ll saturate the area for two to three weeks,” he said. “I don’t really know any other way to slow people down.

Town Considers Banning Trucks on Noyac Road

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By Claire Walla

It’s not a panacea, but it’s a start.

When Noyac residents gathered two weeks ago at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center to discuss their distaste for the 2011 plan to calm traffic on Noyac Road, one of the many ideas tossed out from the crowd was a measure to limit commercial truck traffic on that strip of roadway between North Sea and Sag Harbor Village.

And at a Southampton Town board meeting last Tuesday, April 10, board members unanimously agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter. (This will take place Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m.)

The idea was pushed by a handful of people at that Noyac community meeting, but it’s an idea Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said goes back a good number of years.

“There’s just been such an explosion of traffic on that road,” she said.

The effort to limit trucks was brought about in earnest in 2004 when the town conducted a hamlet study of Noyac. In addition to the current traffic issues concentrated on the curl in the road near Cromer’s Market, the frequency of large, 18-wheeler trucks along the narrow, single-lane, shoulder-less roadway was of concern.

“When you live here, after a while you become blasé about it,” said Noyac resident Chuck Neuman, who is also the former president of the Noyac Civic Council. “But, when you think about it, it’s a quality of life issue. I live about 500 feet away from the road, and when [trucks] break, I hear it!”

According to the current draft of the law, the measure (if enacted) would ban all commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds that aren’t traveling Noyac Road for a pre-approved purpose. School busses and delivery trucks with designated stops on Noyac Road would be allowed, for example. But commercial trucks using Noyac Road as an alternative route to Highway 27 would be banned, and subject to fines.

Throne-Holst said the reason why this measure was largely overlooked in the past is because the original plan included the construction of weigh stations in order to regulate truck traffic. These would cost a pretty penny to implement, and the thought made many residents pessimistic of the town actually going through with putting such a structure in Noyac, or North Sea.

But Throne-Holst said the current plan is for this new law to be upheld by law enforcement.

In addition to the issue with weigh stations, Throne-Holst added that there was some skepticism surrounding the viability of a plan to enforce traffic restrictions without the town implementing a comprehensive, town-wide plan for traffic. While this is still waiting in the rafters of town hall, Throne-Holst said she hopes this might be the start of an effort to create a town-wide transportation plan. But, even so, she said Noyac Road is “well situated” for the proposed ban on commercial trucking.

According to town records, there are currently several roadways in the town of Southampton that limit commercial truck traffic—most of them small side roads—including Hildreth and Carroll streets streets in Sag Harbor. And, as Supervisor Throne-Holst pointed out, many smaller roads that lead in to Noyac Road currently impose trucking restrictions, which would make it a bit easier and even logical to regulate traffic on Noyac Road.

Noyac resident Linda Heine has been at the helm of efforts to control traffic out in front of Cromer’s Market. As the owner and operator of the Whalebone Gift Shop in that same shopping complex, Heine has held strong opinions of the various plans the town has put forth in an effort to take traffic-calming measures.

After expressing a deep dissatisfaction with the town’s most recently proposed effort to increase traffic safety near her store—plans which included cutting off access to Bay Avenue from Noyac Road and creating several concrete medians—Heine said she was pleased the town seemed poised to scale back.

“I really appreciate the fact that Supervisor Throne-Holst was willing to re-think it and look at alternatives,” she said this week.

Of the concept of banning commercial truck traffic, Heine said, “it’s a very interesting thought.” She admitted the volume of large trucks on Noyac Road is an issue, even pointing out that in the span of just a few minutes last Tuesday morning, she counted four large trucks zoom passed her house, which sits on Noyac Road.

However, she admitted the issue is not at the forefront of her thoughts at the moment. She said she’s not sure the measure will directly affect the need for calming traffic.

“No matter what kind of vehicles you have on Noyac Road, the whole key to traffic-calming is slowing traffic down,” she said.

Noyac Takes Whack at School Spending

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Members of the Noyac Civic Council had home court advantage on Tuesday evening as they welcomed Sag Harbor Schools Superintendent Dr. John Gratto to their monthly meting. For more than a year the council has been sending representatives to school board meetings at Pierson High School, to keep an eye on school spending and program development. In past council meetings, members have been critical of spending at the school, and that criticism has become sharper as the national economy sours.

On Tuesday, Gratto offered a brief overview of the district’s proposed $29.5 million budget, which he maintains strikes a balance between economy and providing excellent programs, without making staff cuts.

Still, he said, he sometimes feels “like an umpire.”

“Some people say, ‘you jerk,’ others say ‘good job,” the superintendent observed.

The spending plan will be about 3.3 percent higher than last year. Driving increases, Gratto said, were such things as improvements to the auditorium, including a $40,000 curtain, to and additional $800,000 in teachers salaries. Offsetting some of the expense will be savings the district has found, including buying a bus and van to reduce contract transportation costs, instituting a new dental insurance plan and not replacing staff vacancies.

Most in the audience were concerned about ways the district can conserve money. Nada Barry asked how far the district would go to consolidate or share services with other districts.

“As far as consolidation goes, not very far,” Gratto replied. “There doesn’t seem to be much interest in the communities.”

But, he said, he would be pursuing more shared services, especially with Bridgehampton.

One of the most heard criticisms has been a perceived low teacher-to-student ratio in the schools. Ralph DeSpigna commented he believed it to be about nine students to one teacher.

“If you just look at the numbers, they don’t tell the whole story,” said Gratto. He said there were some classes that may have as few as six students in a class; but, he said, the staff numbers also include personnel such as guidance counselors and therapists, which, if considered as classroom teachers, would skew the numbers.

Gratto added that special education classes also require a low student-to-teacher ratio, and noted that requirements for special ed are much different than they were years ago, with many more students being classified.

“I graduated high school in 1972 from a school that had 800 students, with only one class of eight special ed students,” said Gratto.

“We had special training too, when I was young,” said DeSpigna, “and we survived.”

“The question is, ‘are we overstaffed’,” Gratto asked rhetorically. “We need a balance. It is to everybody’s best interest that we maintain a high quality job of educating our students.”

John Anderson wondered why it appeared Sag Harbor had one of the highest costs  per student.

“There are two things that drive the cost per pupil,” answered Gratto. One, he said was the economies of scale.

“We could easily put another three or four students in each classroom and not increase the need for teachers,” he said, “which would reduce our cost per student.”

“Another reason is the richness of our programs,” Gratto added. “We offer what the community has historically said they wanted.”

Jim Moran touched on one other hot button issue: “What are teachers looking for in increases?”

“Teachers are proposing a 3.9 percent increase, plus step, which is about another 2.7 percent,” said Gratto. “The board has proposed 2.5 percent, plus step.”

Moran said his niece is a teacher in the New York City school system, and after 12 years makes $70,000. “That’s nowhere near what teachers here get,” he claimed.

“And your teachers are not working in the South Bronx,” DeSpigna said to Gratto. “Send their teachers here, and our teachers there and you’ll get the same results.”

One audience member observed: “You offer the teachers over 23.5% compounded over three years. They want over 27%. In this economy…”

Later in the meeting, Jim Kinnier, a teacher and negotiator for the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor, stressed the importance of offering competitive salaries.

“We need to hire highly qualified teachers to the district,” Kinier said. “I’m fortunate to have bought a house here 14 years ago. It’s not possible for teachers to buy a house in this community.”

Kinnier also argued the request Sag Harbor teachers are making is not much different from other districts.

East Hampton, he said, will be paying 4 percent on top of step, and Southampton is paying 3.5 percent on top of step. Middle Island district, he said, also recently settled for a 3.5% increase.

“We need to have competitive salaries,” concluded Kinnier.

Genevieve Smith asked if the budget amount would increase if the teachers’ contract settlement was higher than anticipated in the current proposed spending plan.

“I would not recommend the board increase the spending,” said Gratto. “It would probably require a cut in staff or programs.”