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Aug 29, 2012 9:42 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton Town, Highway Department Still Trying To Pick Noyac Road Plan

Aug 29, 2012 10:47 AM

A dangerous curve in Noyac Road has been deemed in need of safety improvements for years, but Southampton Town and its Highway Department are still trying to determine which of several drafted corrective plans would be best.

Many neighbors of the bend, which is near Cromer’s Country Market and the Whalebone General Store in Noyac, continue to claim, meanwhile, that the plans are too busy and would reroute too much traffic through quiet side streets.

At a scoping session held at the Old Noyac Schoolhouse on Friday, Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor invited the public to come in and view the latest plans—though little, if anything, has changed since an open forum hosted in March by the Noyac Civic Council, where the overriding message from the community was to draft a simpler solution. Mr. Gregor did not attend that meeting, saying he preferred a different format.

Two proposals favored by the department, dubbed 7A and 7B, would widen the road, add center medians, and partition the parking area in front of the stores from Noyac Road to prevent cars from backing out directly on the busy street. In an effort to eliminate the safety hazard of having Elm Street and Bay Avenue intersect with Noyac Road in close proximity to each other, Bay Avenue would become a one-way entrance to the north for the first roughly 150 feet from Noyac Road, and Elm Street would be a one-way exit south to Noyac Road for about 150 feet in plan 7A. There would also be a deceleration lane with a stop sign at the entrance to the east side of the proposed parking area. Plan 7B is similar, but would cut Bay Avenue off from Noyac Road and traffic would have to enter it through the proposed closed-in parking area.

Both the plans would use only existing town-owned land.

Other plans, dubbed plans 4 and 6, would require the town to acquire a small triangular piece of property between Elm Street and Bay Avenue.

Robert Welch, the town’s deputy highway superintendent, explained that he hoped that if people were displeased at the amount of traffic that could be directed down Elm Street and Bay Avenue in plans 7A and 7B, then they might put more pressure on the owner of that property, George Heine, to accept an offer from the town that he has so far rejected. Mr. Gregor said he had offered $65,000 for the land.

Mr. Heine, who was at the scoping session, said he suggested what he called the “KISS principle. “Keep it simple, stupid.”

Tony Lawless, the owner of Cromer’s, said he, too, thinks the proposals are too much.

“The town has no money, supposedly, but they’re going to go to this expense to build the Titanic—because it’s not going to survive its maiden voyage,” Mr. Lawless said.

Mr. Gregor, for his part, pointed out that several agencies, including Suffolk County, the state and the Federal Highway Administration have been involved in the conceptual design phase and that a simpler solution would not be the safest for a stretch of road that has seen 46 reported accidents, including one fatality, between January 2007 and June 2012, and sees 12,000 vehicles per day in the summer and recorded 7,000 a day in March this year.

“My responsibility is to make it safe,” Mr. Gregor said. “If some people don’t like it, I hope they can understand I’m trying to do the best I can.”

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, meanwhile, who had attended the March forum, said then that based on the public’s comments, the town would need to take a “giant step backward.”

Asked about the scoping session, Ms. Throne-Holst wrote in an email on Monday that since she knew she would not be able to attend the scoping session due to a prior commitment, she had asked Mr. Gregor to forward plans for the Town Board to look at during last week’s work session.

“To date, that has not happened, and as such, I and the other [Town Board] members have not seen this latest proposal,” she said, adding that she would like to see the board and the community discuss and comment on the latest proposal. “To that end, I am asking Mr. Gregor to bring the plans and present them at work session—and will invite community members to participate.”

Margaret McCarthy, a resident who lives near the curve, said as she left Friday’s scoping session, “There is no attractive solution is what it boils down to. Some are worse than others.” She said she thought it would take a “miracle” to find a workable solution.

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