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Mar 25, 2016 2:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Gregor Argues Against Use Of $3 Million Grant To Raise Dune Road

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor at the Town Board's work session on Thursday, March 24. ALYSSA MELILLO
Mar 29, 2016 3:23 PM

As Southampton Town officials anticipate the possibility of receiving a multimillion-dollar state grant to help elevate Dune Road, at least one official—Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor—has argued against the idea of using the funds for the project. Instead, he said he would prefer to see the money spent in more needy areas.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman announced earlier this month that he was working with Suffolk County officials, who are administering the matching grant, to secure $3 million through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program. The money would be put toward a project that would reduce flooding of the road along the ocean beaches from the Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays to the western Quogue Village border, an estimated $6.8 million endeavor.

A portion would be paid for by Quogue Village, as approximately 1.7 miles of the targeted seven-mile stretch of Dune Road is within the village.

The grant money, which would help cover the town’s portion of the cost, has already been allocated to the county for hazard mitigation efforts, but one of the requirements is that it be used in areas where residents earn below 50 percent of the county’s median income of about $85,000.

At a Town Board work session last Thursday, March 24, Mr. Gregor said he was not comfortable with the town using the grant money for the project, as there are a number of roads in Riverside, Flanders and Northampton—areas that are usually identified as impoverished—that should be repaired or improved first. He estimated that work in those areas could cost as much as $2.73 million.

“From what I got of it, [the grant is] for poor and impoverished people. I look at Dune Road, I see the average house of $5 million—that doesn’t make me that comfortable putting a grant for poor and impoverished people on a millionaire’s road,” the highway superintendent told Town Board members.

He suggested the town look for federal money instead to fund the raising of Dune Road. U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin has attempted to get the project included in the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, a move that could possibly qualify it for federal funding. At a previous work session, though, Mr. Schneiderman said the long-awaited report is now expected to come out in June, but the town would not necessarily know by then if the project qualifies. And even if it did, the town should not expect any federal funding for several years.

Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone noted that the incomes of residents in Hampton Bays and East Quogue—the two hamlets containing the stretch of Dune Road that would be raised—earn 58 percent below the county’s median income, which qualifies those communities for the grant. “The county indicated to us that … it meets that threshold,” Mr. Zappone said.

Mr. Schneiderman expressed confusion at Mr. Gregor’s concerns, which included that the town also needed to nail down the ownership of Dune Road before it begins work on the project. Mr. Gregor explained that a deed dating back to 1964 indicates that ownership of the road from Westhampton Beach to the Shinnecock Inlet was transferred to the county, with no subsequent deed or document showing that the ownership was transferred back.

“I’ve been under the assumption that this was a priority project for you,” Mr. Schneiderman said, adding that he would have town officials look into the ownership issue. “We are trying to help you do your job, even though we may disagree on the approach to get there.”

Mr. Gregor said this week that he still supports the project, just not using Community Development Block Grant funds to complete it.

“I’m for elevating the road—I’ve always been for it. I just don’t think this is the appropriate funding source, and I made it clear to the Town Board,” he said. “I think there’s other opportunities to find other sources of funding down the road. We are still looking for grants. But if it becomes a choice of using the grant for what it’s meant for, where people live—not where they might or might not go.

“Will it stop every flooding event? No. Will it require extra maintenance? Yes. It’s always going to be a maintenance issue,” he added of the project.

The supervisor stressed that the grant money was competitive, and that the town should notify the county soon about whether it has a plan for how the work will be funded. So far, in addition to the possible $3 million matching grant, Quogue’s contribution will be about $1.7 million, and the town has already allotted $1 million for the work. To complete the match, Mr. Schneiderman asked the Town Board to consider authorizing another $500,000.

The remaining funds, approximately $600,000, would possibly be raised privately from the Tiana Erosion Control District tax, which was established to help fund costs related to erosion control.

The board will decide on an informal plan—including whether it would authorize the additional $500,000—at the work session to be held today, Thursday, March 31.

“To me, I think this is a vital project. I don’t want to lose out on the $3 million that is available through the county,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We are not guaranteed that they will keep that $3 million in place.”

“You all make the decisions—as I said before, I’ll do the best with whatever you give me,” Mr. Gregor told Town Board members at last week’s work session. “I’m really not comfortable. You’re using the mainland people to give them the credibility to get this grant.”

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The road floods most often in the winter when the Dune Road home owners are not here. The grant will do nothing for the intended lower income people anywhere in the town because they don't travel on Dune Road when the road is flooded.

Raising the road, will, however create more flood conditions in Hampton bays and East Quogue on the north side of the bay. I can see the bay from my driveway, and have lived here for over 25 years. Our winter erosion gets worse each year. Raising the road ...more
By 1eastquogueinusa (34), East Quogue on Mar 25, 16 3:31 PM
I agree with your points though I do see it flood in the summer too (July - full moon). Question: Can raising the road and having culverts underneath solve the problem of a receding flood?
By Hambone (514), New York on Apr 5, 16 8:37 AM
Go Alex!

"Mr. Schneiderman expressed confusion at Mr. Gregor’s concerns". So, I guess Carpetbagger Jay didn't consult the Superintendent of Highways before rushing off to get a grant to rebuild a road the town hasn't owned for 52 years? Maybe the County knows this and is thrilled that the town will fix their road and the County only pays for 50% of the work?

FYI, raising that road isn't going to do anything if we get another Halloween Storm aka "Perfect Storm". If the ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 3:40 PM
3 members liked this comment
I raised a few at Norm's, and had a few burgers at Callahans too.
By 1eastquogueinusa (34), East Quogue on Mar 25, 16 3:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe people should not build houses / live where it floods all the time. You can't fight Mother Nature!
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Mar 25, 16 3:48 PM
Have you ever been to south beach?
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Mar 26, 16 2:30 PM
Wow. Now that's refreshing for an elected official (ag) to speak his mind and be %100 correct.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Mar 25, 16 4:02 PM
And be on the side of the Taxpayers and the little guys.

Jay just wants to help Turkey Bridges friends that put him in office...
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 4:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
And, as we may remember, Sagaponack Barbie bought Neptunes with CPF Funds & Increased police patrols on Dune Road. I guess living there has it's privileges.

Once again the Independent Party, disguised as Democrats, bestows gifts upon their financial supporters and takes money from Riverside. A community that Brad Bender falsely championed, while he was supplying opiates to his neighbors.

Yeah, these Independent Democrats are awesome!
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 4:38 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 4:38 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 4:48 PM

You make some valid points, but you just can't seem to be able to avoid those Turkey jabs. Not necessary. Demeaning to your other comments.

Perhaps you need a Trump Vaccination.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 6:18 PM
But, so much fun...

I've been working on a budget since 11 am and this was my only repose from the tedious, repetitive filling in lines and writing descriptions.

I'll try to break the habit.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 9:02 PM
Go Alex! Your right, Years ago in Southampton Village the residents on Meadow Lane contributed to raising the roadway. Mayor Hattrick was the Mayor at the time. These funds should be used as the Superindent suggests.
Flanders, Riverside etc.
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Mar 25, 16 5:23 PM
You can't argue with the Highway Sups logic, well you can, but you'd lose.

Shame on those in the Town and County who want to pretend that the project fits the economic community those State funds are supposed to be aiding.

I can recall representing the Eastern Long Island NAACP decades ago on the Towns then plans for federal Community Development Block Grant projects. The Town caved then to our demands that the funds be used to benefit low and moderate income areas.

Dune ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 25, 16 6:16 PM
2 members liked this comment
Think Councilpersons Scalera and Glinka demonstrated they know what their oath of office means. See Article "Southampton Town Board Members Clash on CSEA Settlement". The Tax payers just got stuck footing the bill for the Supervisors giving away the store to CSEA members. Question the way this was done. Mr. Gregor seems to be with them on that too.
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Mar 26, 16 11:49 AM
I'm sorry Mr. Tiger, but I just have to do this. I totally enjoy your educated, informed comments. Your stance on minor party endorsements is so rational, when a voter thinks it through, he realizes the corruption of the system, as well as the players.
BUT, please see above : Dune Road-If you have the money to live THEIR......
I gotta tell ya, that one crushed me.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 27, 16 9:26 PM
Go Alex. If Alex's information is accurate, the civic leaders in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton need to step up and advocate for their hamlets. If there is in fact CDBG money up for grabs, we need it a hell of a lot more than raising Dune Rd, which can be washed away in the next superstorm.
By SqueakyWheel (28), Flanders, New York on Mar 25, 16 7:01 PM
Unless I'm missing something Dune Road floods at high tide year round, and people of all income levels use the road year round. Where's the problem here, a grant to help fix a chronic problem is not something about which to complain.
By joeg (31), Hampton Bays on Mar 25, 16 7:10 PM
... Lee Zeldin said the federal govt. should pay for this due to the severity of the situation. Gregor an Schneiderman should reach out to him for the funds.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 25, 16 10:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Raising the road to stop mother nature is about as silly as a suggestion to lower the oceans.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Mar 26, 16 6:19 AM
Let us not forget that 46% of our incomes are tied in to the tourism industry, either directly or indirectly. If the beach is inaccessible because the road is impassable, then the tourism dollars will go elsewhere. This will be a blow to our local businesses and economy.
By Lanzetta & Associates (8), East Quogue on Mar 26, 16 7:30 AM
Accessibility to the ocean is not what this is about. It's about accessibility to homes that were built where the ocean goes.
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Mar 26, 16 7:48 AM
4 members liked this comment
And if you haven't noticed, the "tourists" are no longer in Hampton Bays.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Mar 26, 16 5:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Right and then some. The beach is easily accessible at any time. the main beach is right at the end of the bridge. No problems there. What gets flooded is the stretch of road leading to oaklands (left off the bridge) and a stretch of road to the right of the bridge. That section connects to Quogue and there are some houses there that are affected. To me it's more commercial in that you can get trapped at Oakland's on a July night if you stay late and don't have the right car.

So it's ...more
By Hambone (514), New York on Apr 5, 16 8:44 AM
Thank you Mr. Gregor for once again speaking Truth to power.

Similar to your honorific designation of Rose Hill Road in Water Mill as Sister Jackie's Way, in memory of her hit-and-run death on July 9, 2012, almost four years ago.

Well done.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 26, 16 12:52 PM
... the road is flooded all year , every full moon , every major storm. Let's not politicize this , if it is not fixed the road will be permanently impassable and deteriorate to the point where it will break up. Gregor wants money for equipment - understandable. You can have both - forget the rich vs poor thing, that is nonsense. Repair the road , get equipment for Gregor and let the Feds pay for dune Rd. Emergency situation - fix the damn road. Give taxpayers continued access to the beaches. Anna ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 26, 16 5:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Whether you agree or not Mr. Gregor has a point.
By Tuckahoe Ted (53), southampton on Mar 26, 16 9:24 PM
Last I checked Dune Road was open to the public. Wether you drive a BMW and pull into a driveway off DR to ones abode, or a leisure drive to see the dunes or visit the town beaches or there to fish, hunt or bird watch in your 1,500 dollar pickup, there is no reason for your auto to take a salt bath which is damaging and dangerous.
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Mar 27, 16 2:24 AM
2 members liked this comment
The homeowners on Dune Road pay a ton of taxes and deserve a road that is passable. Normal folk just taking a drive or trying to get to Tiana deserve a passable road too. One of the few luxuries that a middle income person can enjoy on a hot summer day.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Mar 27, 16 3:25 AM
2 members liked this comment
I'm sorry but if I remember correctly didn't Gregor try to raise Dune Road a few years ago? Sounds like he just likes to pick fights with town hall for some reason.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Mar 27, 16 7:58 AM
Yep...He picks fights with town hall then plays the victim when doesn't get his way.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Mar 27, 16 6:34 PM
it's funny how all of these politicians could not make it in the real work world. The way Alex speaks to his employees he would have been brought up on HR charges. FYI - lets drug test them all - watch how fast most we clean house.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Mar 28, 16 9:22 AM
2 members liked this comment
Anyone who looks only at the expensive homes on Dune Road and claims raising the road is favoring the oceanfront rich over the mainland poor, is either shortsighted or trying to pull a fast one.

Come on folks, this is a beach community and the whole economy depends on access to the beach -- that means the welfare of everyone, rich and poor and in between. I don't claim to know if raising the road will help against flooding or not -- that's a different debate -- but I sure know garbage ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 28, 16 9:16 PM
The question and its a big question is who owns Dune Road, the County or the Town.

Apparently neither the County or Town has any record that Dune Road was transferred from the County to the Town. No pager trail. No recordings of the transfer in either the County or Town Clerks Offices.

If, as it appears to be, Dune Road is a County Road, then clearly the County should be footing the bill for raising it, lifting it, maintaining it.

It would not be the end of the world ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 28, 16 9:40 PM
I guess it's not an election year. Turkey Bridge is turning on everybody he's backed in past races. First he kicked ATH to the curb, now it's Gregor. But certainly not the big democrat donors on Dune Rd. There checkbooks, I mean support is always welcome. Often at the expense of us the taxpayers.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Mar 28, 16 9:41 PM
Whoa!! Mr. Wheeler! Alex Gregor a "perennial loser"? A man who came within 50 votes of unseating Bill Masterson the last time out? The chair of the Independence Party that commands its own line on the ballot and enough votes to be decisive in Town elections? This is a perennial loser? I don't think so. You're not usually so far off the mark. Perhaps it was the hour. Comments posted at 1:24 in the morning are often not as well thought out as those posted at more conventional times." Jul 1, 09 12:57 ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 29, 16 7:38 PM
George lynch and his crew have no loyalty and are jokes - if you don't believe me go through all of his 1383 comments and see how he flip flops on everything. Fyi I bet 27 east flags this. Cause you can't talk about George.
By farmlocal (83), Southampton on Mar 28, 16 9:49 PM
Disagreeing with Alex Gregor on a single issue is hardly kicking him to the curb. There may not even be a disagreement in the final analysis; I'm just saying let's not turn this into a class conflict because it's not.

Neither is it kicking ATH to the curb to back a better candidate -- Dave Calone -- for a federal legislative post after supporting her for a town executive post. Different jobs, different requirements.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 29, 16 9:35 AM
Oh Turkey Bridge, you know that conservatives don't smoke pot. We leave that for you liberals.

You kicked Anna to the curb long before she announced her run at Lees job. And now bad mouthing your Highways Superintendent. It's funny that my Republican cohorts are championing him. NTiger gets it.

Did I miss a press release saying that Brad isn't a Druggie? We had that election for nothing? Or are you just spouting garbage to make people think that you're one of the good guys?

Mark ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Mar 29, 16 5:00 PM
Let's report our neighbors for smoking pot!
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Mar 30, 16 7:41 AM
Anna: Blue
Alex: Red
Anna: Blue
Alex: Red
Jay: Red
Alex:.....mmmm Blue!!!!
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Mar 29, 16 7:50 PM
homeowners in BH and Sagg paid millions to bring sand to the beaches in front of their homes to stop erosion. Why can't the Dune Road homeowners raise the road on the same concept. Certainly they can afford a project of this nature which would be a lot less than the 20 mil BH and Sagg paid. The grant money can be used in many other areas that really need it and the residents in these areas can't afford anymore to help.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Apr 1, 16 6:22 PM
there's like 4 run down houses on dune road in hampton bays...
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 2, 16 9:35 AM
Stay the course Mr. Gregor. There's a silent majority out there.
& Thanks for fixing our roads & always trying your best to keep us safe.
By Ocean sea salts (1), Sag Harbor on Apr 3, 16 12:18 AM
once again the political hacks here are blinded by petty Party politics and can't see the real issue. PITIFUL
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 3, 16 8:59 AM
I am not sure where I stand on the issue of current funding for Dune Road but I would like to say that being able to ride along that gorgeous stretch of uninhabited stretch of roadway is one of my joys in life.
I don't live here for the Chinese food. I live here because of the beauty. I want to be able to drive along Dune Road. It is good for the soul.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Apr 3, 16 11:12 AM
Shouldn't fixing a road that can become completely impassible at high tide due to flooding come before fixing some potholes?

What happens if an emergency vehicle needs to access Dune rd? And that free shuttle will probably want to go all the way to Tiana, they could be out of luck too.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Apr 4, 16 11:07 AM