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Feb 13, 2013 10:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Residents Hope To Head Off Changes On Noyac Road

Feb 13, 2013 11:15 AM

Residents of the Pine Neck section of Noyac asked the Town Board on Tuesday to halt a Town Highway Department plan to reconfigure two residential streets and a busy parking lot as part of an effort to reduce traffic hazards on Noyac Road.

The residents said that the plan, as proposed, would send hundreds of cars a day down residential streets in Noyac. Instead, they asked that the town try to improve traffic conditions in the area around Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone General Store with a variety of less obtrusive measures such as lighted speed limit signs, re-configured traffic lanes, rumble strips, and police enforcement.

In a split vote, the board adopted a resolution—purely symbolic—urging Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor to hold off on the $450,000 roadway redesign, which the Town Board funded in its capital projects budget for 2013. But board members, though openly agreeing with the residents that they think the redesign should be shelved while other measures are tried, said there was little else they could do to influence the highway superintendent short of new private discussions about the now decade-old attempts to improve safety on the stretch of roadway.

The proposed redesign focuses on the parking area shared by Cromer’s and the Whalebone, and aims to reduce the danger of cars pulling directly from the lot onto busy Noyac Road. The plan would instead funnel cars in the shared lot to an access point at Bay Avenue. At the same time, Bay Avenue would be made one-way northbound and nearby Elm Street would be made one-way southbound.

When told of the latest complaints, Mr. Gregor on Wednesday discounted the claims that the new design would force all the traffic from the market and general store onto the residential side streets, saying that cars would still be able to access Noyac Road directly from the parking area. He said that the one-way change to Bay Avenue and Elm Street is primarily intended to eliminate having two streets feed cars onto Noyac Road in such close proximity.

“It’s not my intention to put something there that makes the people upset, but the residents have been opposed to almost any concept that has been put before them, well before I came on board,” Mr. Gregor said. “I’m charged with trying to make it safe for the public. We need to separate the parking area from the roadway—it’s as simple as that.”

Residents said the change would result in a huge increase in the number of cars on the streets, creating new hazards for children and pedestrians that would be exacerbated by irritated and annoyed drivers speeding to get back to Noyac Road.

“This overblown plan would be a disaster for Pine Neck,” resident Deborah Gustin told board members. “Instead of solving issues it would create new ones.”

The residents, who submitted a petition to the board objecting to the plans, and the board discussed the possibility of revoking the funding for the project it approved as part of the $2.5 million capital projects package included in the Highway Department’s budget last fall. But board members said there is no legislative way for them to remove the funding from the capital budget individually, and that taking away the money could just mean short-changing other projects if Mr. Gregor decided to go ahead with the plan as proposed.

“Once money has been appropriated to the Highway Department capital budget, we lose our ability to control how it is spent,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who lives near Pine Neck, told her neighbors. “We are concerned with the forward momentum of this project and whether it is the most desirable way to go. But if we take away the $450,000, we are concerned that other projects in other parts of the town will suffer as a result.”

Board members noted that should the project go forward, Mr. Gregor would have to come to them to approve specific bids for the work, which they could refuse to approve, but said they hoped the issue could be resolved without taking such strong steps.

The redesign of the roadway around the busy market and general store, which sit on a sharp curve, has been a hot-button issue in Noyac for years. Numerous traffic accidents, including one that was fatal, and chronic speeding on the popular alternative to traffic-clogged Montauk Highway have led residents to alternately plead with the town to do something to slow vehicles on the roadway and object to various plans intended to do so. At least two engineering studies commissioned by the town have offered suggestions on ways to address the issues, but each has drawn criticisms from neighbors. With the latest plans in hand, and funding from the Town Board, Mr. Gregor has said he wants to have the problem addressed by the start of the coming summer season.

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It is reported elsewhere that the Town Board's resolution to move forward on this did not receive a "second" at today's meeting -- so back to the drawing boards it appears.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 12, 13 3:22 PM
New article -- link above.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 14, 13 6:12 PM