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Oct 23, 2013 9:27 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Community Split Over Potential Closing Of Neptune Beach Club

Oct 23, 2013 10:41 AM

For Hampton Bays native Erika Dubowski, the days of basking in the summer sun and enjoying scenic ocean views while sipping an alcoholic beverage to the tune of house music in her favorite hometown beach club might be over.

The 24-year-old is one of many young people upset over the idea of Southampton Town potentially purchasing the Neptune Beach Club, the oceanfront club that has been a major weekend social destination for some for decades, and a major nuisance to others—including the Southampton Town Police Department. The current club opened in 1989, though a beach club has operated at the site since the 1960s.

“I would definitely say I’m disappointed, and a majority of the people who would go there that are my age would feel the same way,” said Ms. Dubowski, who would visit the club a couple of times a month during the summer.

The town was approached by the owner of the club, listed on town records as Neptune Beach Club Inc., last month and recently signed a contract to purchase the 2.8-acre property for $3.2 million, using proceeds from the municipality’s Community Preservation Fund, according to Mary Wilson, the fund’s manager.

The Town Board opened a public hearing on the matter earlier this month. Board members are expected to close the hearing in November, at which time they can pass a resolution to allow Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst to authorize the purchase, Ms. Wilson said.

Opinions are mixed about the town’s potential purchase of the land. The beach club, which goes by the name The Drift Inn at night, has been notorious for drug- and alcohol-related activities and arrests, and police cars can often be observed near the business during the summer. But, at the same time, it attracts visitors from throughout Long Island and beyond.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce said the beach club’s closing would be a good thing as far he’s concerned, as it would allow him to dedicate resources more evenly throughout the town on weekends during the summer months. “If I don’t have to have as much staffing there, I can have it elsewhere in the town,” he said.

Nicole Fischette, a Southampton Village resident and mother, said she doesn’t frequent the area often, but from what she’s seen and heard, the area of Dune Road does get “a little out of control” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. She added that she would like to see the town use the space for something more family friendly.

“I’m definitely not into the whole fist-pumping and drinking during the daytime thing,” Ms. Fischette said. “An event hall or something like that would be nice.”

East Quogue resident Linda Mathues, who lives across Shinnecock Bay from the club, said she could often hear the music off in the distance at night, which she said was sometimes pleasant. Though she had not visited the beach club herself, explaining that the she would have been inclined to do so if she were younger, Ms. Mathues said its closure would leave some locals with one less spot to frequent during the summer.

Still, she said she would be happy if the town buys the oceanfront property.

“It’s a great idea, I hope they turn it into a nice waterfront restaurant,” Ms. Mathues said. “It’s great that [the town] has that preservation fund to do that.”

Town Supervisor Throne-Holst said the town already has been contacted by parties hoping to use the space for a high-end hospitality business or even a restaurant, but added that the town wants to discuss the matter publicly and weigh all options, which still includes the total preservation of the land. She added that if a business is brought onto the property, it would likely be done through a lend-lease agreement with the town.

There was, however, one option that Ms. Throne-Holst said has already been taken completely off the table.

“The Town Board is 100-percent committed to ensuring that the Neptune’s site will never relive its days as a nightclub,” she wrote in an email.

Ms. Wilson explained that one of the restrictions of the CPF is that any property purchased through it must be used for a public good, a requirement that could be met by a restaurant or a public beach, among other options.

Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi noted that the town also has the option of carving out the section of the property with the building housing Neptune and buying that lot using money from the town’s general fund instead of the CPF. That course, if pursued, would enable the town to work around the restrictions of the CPF, if need be.

Hampton Bays resident James Maguire said the town could always use more parking for its public beaches, but he questioned whether this was the best use of both the CPF and the Neptune property in particular. “The money could probably be better spent elsewhere,” he said.

Kelly Crowley, a 27-year-old Hampton Bays resident, wrote in an email that she thinks the town is making a mistake by closing down a successful hamlet business that brings in tourist dollars during the summer. Ms. Crowley said Neptune’s location is more ideal than other local bars, such as the Boardy Barn on Montauk Highway and The Beach Bar on Foster Avenue, which she said are in residential areas and more densely populated than Dune Road.

“The more they push the bars and clubs out, the more they push away tourists and visitors [from] other towns, and less people come to vacation in our hometown and spend money, which ultimately benefits the town as a whole,” she wrote. “There are lots of places on the water that will gladly welcome these people who want to spend their money vacationing in their town.”

In 2012, the Neptune Beach Club paid a little less than $64,000 in taxes to the town, almost $49,000 of which went to the Hampton Bays School District. Even if the town reimbursed the school district the full amount through a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, the school district still stands to lose about $10,000 if taxed at the 2012 rate, according to officials in the town tax assessor’s office. Jennifer Garvey, Ms. Throne-Holst’s deputy chief of staff, said the property would automatically go on the list of properties qualifying for a PILOT, though that does not guarantee anything other than consideration.

Hampton Bays Schools Business Administrator Larry Luce said the loss of revenue from Neptune Beach Club, if it is taken off the tax rolls, would have to be made up by other hamlet taxpayers.

“From a purely financial standpoint, yeah, Neptune’s not paying as much in taxes anymore is a disadvantage to all the rest of us,” Mr. Luce said. “But you have to weigh that with the other issues that come with Neptune’s—whether it be noise or traffic or whatever it is that people take issue with.”

Hampton Bays resident Kim Steers said she’s not quite sure what to make of Neptune closing. She said the beach club does not bother her, though she also would not mind if another business replaced it. The bottom line, Ms. Steers noted, is that whatever opens in its place should benefit the community.

“The stars are aligning in a way for this town and it’s either going to be a great positive or a great negative,” she said, pointing to the recent closure of Tide Runners restaurant and the eminent closing of the 1 North Steakhouse to make way for a new residential development along the Shinnecock Canal. “I’m just not sure which one it’s going to be yet.”

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By 'community' you mean cops that get paid overtime and extortionist cab companies, right?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Oct 24, 13 9:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
"Ms. Wilson explained that one of the restrictions of the CPF is that any property purchased through it must be used for a public good, a requirement that could be met by a restaurant or a public beach, among other options."

I'm pretty sure there is very little truth to that and if it's bought with CPF funds it has to be preserved. A for profit business does not count as "public good".

Also, yes HBSD losing $10,000 is not good, but I'm sure the Police Dept. will save more than ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 13 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why does the public have the misconception that the Town can buy property without the owners consent lol.

"And for the people upset that the business will be closed "by the town" they need to realize that it's only closing because the property owner wants to sell it to the town (instead of putting it on the open market and selling it to other club owners). Seems to me as though the owner of Neptunes is trying to ensure that a nightclub use no longer occurs there."
By lmahanna (15), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 13 10:53 AM
We should probably ask Ms. Crowley...

"Kelly Crowley, a 27-year-old Hampton Bays resident, wrote in an email that she thinks the town is making a mistake by closing down a successful hamlet business that brings in tourist dollars during the summer."
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 13 11:05 AM
Will the "leaders" in Hampton Bays and Town Hall never learn that closing down these clubs has been a death blow to the area? One need go back only a quarter century to remember Hampton Bays as a vibrant, viable place for families and young people to enjoy the summer without paying "Hamptons" prices. Each party light extinguished by the Town puts more businesses in town out of business. Remember Hot Dog Beach? The Barge, Cat Ballou, Sandbar and Summers? They were all moneymaking and taxpaying ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 24, 13 1:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
Patrons arrested on drug charges were almost all busted in the Tiana parking lot - but you really think they weren't patrons of Neptunes? Tiana isn't exactly a hotspot for young party people - Neptunes is. And the Town isn't forcing anyone to sell or closing anyone's business, the property owner easily could sell this on the open market and almost certainly receive more money.

While there used to be many clubs in the town (foggy goggle anyone?) they were all overrun with drug abuse, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 13 2:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
Talk about a broad brush!

"While there used to be many clubs in the town (foggy goggle anyone?) they were all overrun with drug abuse, violence, alcohol abuse, dwi/dui drivers and resulted in dozens of share homes in the community. I'm willing to bet anyone who lived near a share house or within earshot of these clubs is happy they are gone."

All the clubs were full of drugs and violence? A statement like that invalidates every statement you make. These clubs may have been ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 25, 13 1:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
VOS - go to the HB Train Station after the Boardy Barn lets out next Memorial day and tell me how beneficial all of these people are to the local community.

What HB needs to do is re-invent itself has a family friendly town (ala Westhampton Beach). It does not need to be party central to survive.

You seriously are under the impression that all of the clubs in years ago (Neptunes, the Drift, CPI, Foggy Goggle, Beach Bar, Boardy Barn not to mention Allens Acres) were free of ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 25, 13 9:26 AM
Nature, do you seriously not understand the difference between "overrun with drug abuse, violence, alcohol abuse, dwi/dui drivers..." and a handful of incidents in the police blotter? Is it perhaps that looking at the reality of thousands of people enjoying themselves and supporting the economy weekly far outweighs the few things you read in the press but interferes with your curmudgeonly ranting?

What about the restaurants that have a fraction of their former customers? Ask the Skidmore's ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 25, 13 5:21 PM
You clearly are selective in reading my posts. Every other Hampton does just fine without the club scene - why can't HB? HB as I said above could and should re-invent itself as family friendly.

Skidmore's is still there with no end in sight - jetski outlet is still there and newly introduced in recent years are kayak rental outfits and paddle board rental outfits.

The motels are all gone because they sold to a higher bidder who converted the temp space to condo space. They ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 25, 13 5:45 PM
Family friendly? That's the spiel previous town boards used when they harassed legitimate businesses. That's the nonsense they fed the public when they purchased all the other clubs, the ones that they allow to lie abandoned today.

I get the distinct impression you did not experience the Hampton Bays area twenty or thirty years ago because you don't seem to understand there was more than one place to rent a jetski and Allen's Acres was not the only motel in sight. Most of those buildings ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 26, 13 1:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
Isn't Triton Beach the one chained off, with weeds growing in the parking lot?

Anyone have an explanation for that?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 26, 13 7:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
to VOS:

Well spoken, although, alas, too late. With the closing of virtually all the entertainment venues in Hampton Bays, there is no longer any reason for tourists to frequent the hamlet. Once the Neptune Beach Club is gone, followed by the restaurants and clubs displaced by the Rechler development, there will be even fewer reasons to do so, and the commercial corridor will become even more decrepit. As a public official once said when answering a resident's complaint about the problems ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 24, 13 2:45 PM
3 members liked this comment
Hmmm might be a nice location for Rumba to relocate too...
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 24, 13 3:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
... I am not so sure you can take CPF money and lease the property for commercial use, despite what the Town says. It doesn't make sense. Doesn't the "P" in CPF stand for preservation? If the town bought the property and leased it they would have to get more for the lease on a monthly basis than the amount they paid for it using the same monthly calculation. Otherwise, they would be subsidizing a private business. The simpler way would be for the potential restaurant owners to buy the property ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 24, 13 4:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
If you look up the CPF law in Southampton Town Code, it's abundantly clear that it's not allowed. I think what happened here is some people were suggesting because they have no idea what they're talking about, so Mary Wilson kind of toed along with it to keep them from embarrassment. It's bad when it seems like Nuzzi is the only one who understands how the law works! Reminds me of when Theile and ATH proposed to buy Southampton College with CPF funds... what a farce.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 24, 13 8:12 PM
Maybe the Shinnecock's should buy it and open a casino there...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Oct 24, 13 5:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
This town is turning into a retirement community. You meat be 55 and older and have a stick up your bum to purchase a home. If those neighbors who complain bought there homes and business's before it turned into a night club they have a legitimate gripe. If not then I don't want to hear it. Also why just this place? The old turtle bay has been for sale for years. That's on marshlands. What about top of the warf? That was for sale, they didnt buy that! This is getting rediculious and someone needs ...more
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Oct 25, 13 7:55 AM
"This is getting rediculious and someone needs to stop them."

What is "rediculious" and who needs to stop who?

As for why the Town would acquire this parcel and not Turtle Bay - there are several reasons.

1. Neptunes is adjacent to an existing Town park/beach with various facilities. Purchasing Neptunes expands on this existing park.
2. Neptunes is ocean front in an area where the Town/County has spent a great deal of money acquiring ocean front parcels to allow ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 25, 13 10:10 AM
Oh wait a minute Larry Luce( School business manager? lol) is worried about losing tax dollars. This is the same clown that pushed for a multi million dollar football field. The town is ready to over pay for a piece of property that has severe erosion. The current owners have brought in thousands of yards of sand over the years. Has the town taken into consideration all the maintenance that goes along with this purchase?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 26, 13 1:53 PM
All of you old people complaining are a bunch of hypocrites. You were the same ones smoking weed, drinking etc when you were in your twenties. There is nothing left for young people to enjoy out here anymore. You don't build any housing, you take away all the bars and god forbid you have one house party a year you call the cops at 10:00 when you get up to take a sip of prune juice. I can't even go to the beach and have ONE beer without getting harassed by one of the fifteen police agencies out ...more
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Oct 29, 13 12:26 AM
Yup you're right - there are NO bars left anymore...

Oh wait, except for the dozens over bars in each town. What are gone are the obnoxious night clubs which change names every year and were open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. And you still have your Boardy Barn so stop complaining
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 29, 13 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Btw - the my last thought on this is:

"Drift Inn...stumble out"

Those people can drift in and stumble out of some other town.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 29, 13 2:09 PM
Or you could. Only in your own mind are you the self proclaimed arbiter of what's right for the Hampton Bays area. Those places have been here longer than you have, apparently you made a bad choice.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 29, 13 2:55 PM
I'm still here and there gone... funny.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 29, 13 3:33 PM
Don't be so quick to congratulate yourself, Johnny Come Lately. There has yet to be a fat lady sighting, much less warm up.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 29, 13 11:56 PM
I'm sure Nature has spent more time reading the local police blotter and other local news publications than he/she has ever spent inside of one of the above mentioned establishments. Of course there is going to be drugs/DUIs/fights. It happened 20 years ago when groups of young people got together to have a good time and it will happen 20 years from now and after you are long gone. Those establishments have also acted as a great place for people to make great friends and have memories (some clearer ...more
By EQuoguer (7), East Quogue on Oct 30, 13 1:34 PM
3 members liked this comment
A bunch of us guys at NYC*EMS Station 36 in Brooklyn had a summer house in East Quoge in 89 and it was STILL Summers. Wild Bill was the MC.
I remember a guy who worked at Skydive LI gave me his card and offered us a discount, we were drinking together. The next week someone jumped from one of their planes and his chute never opened. No thanx.
By Mike1535 (1), Summerville on Jul 15, 18 5:30 PM
Maybe he got the discount, chute was extra.good story. Not for the guy tho
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jul 15, 18 5:47 PM