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Nov 11, 2009 4:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mayor says Dune Road widening project will move forward despite opposition

Nov 11, 2009 4:42 PM

A proposal to widen the entrance to Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton, a move that proponents say is necessary to ease summer beach traffic along the two-lane road, is meeting some resistance.

The road reconstruction project, which must still pass environmental reviews by both Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town, is expected to cost between $250,000 and $300,000 to complete and would drastically alter the entrance to the county facility. Project proponents, who include West Hampton Dunes Village Mayor Gary Vegliante, are hopeful that the work will be completed before Memorial Day.

In order to complete the work, West Hampton Dunes requires easements, each measuring about 12 feet deep, from seven village residents who own land along the northern side of Dune Road, between Widgeon Way and the park’s entrance. The easements are needed to give Suffolk County enough room to build a several hundred-foot-long “beach lane” that, when constructed, will actually split into two lanes 
that lead directly into the county park. The project also calls for an accompanying traffic circle that will be built 
inside the park itself.

Five West Hampton Dunes residents, all members of the Barrier Beach Preservation Association, donated the required land, while two other property owners, including Nelson O’Brien, who lives near the corner of Widgeon Way and Dune Road, did not. While they eventually reached a compromise with the sixth property owner, village officials will most likely be forced to take Mr. O’Brien’s property through eminent domain if an accord cannot be reached before the end of the year, according to Mayor Vegliante.

Mr. O’Brien said during a recent interview that he objects to the work because he does not want to lose any of his land. His property runs approximately 220 feet along Dune Road.

“They want to take 17 feet of my property,” said Mr. O’Brien, who declined to discuss the issue further.

Mr. O’Brien said that his friend Kathryn Larsen is representing his interests. Ms. Larsen, who lives in Setauket, said the county’s plans are incomplete and need to be more closely scrutinized because they will ultimately damage the environment.

“Someone needed to take a good hard look at these plans to see if they make sense,” said Ms. Larsen, adding that environmental studies must be done before the project is approved.

“The plans don’t work,” added Ms. Larsen, noting that her mother, Evelyn Magers, lives with Mr. O’Brien. “They are problematic in the village.”

The road construction project, which has already received the required permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, would drastically change the entrance to the county park. Just one westbound lane entering Cupsogue Beach, a makeshift roundabout outlined by orange cones, and one eastbound lane 
exiting the parking lot now make up the entrance to the park.

If Suffolk County’s Department of Public Works secures all of the needed permits, the road work would include the addition of a beach lane that would lead into the park and split into two lanes. The new lane would stretch westbound from Widgeon Way all the way to two toll collection booths. County officials could not provide an exact distance for the lane, stating that their blueprints are not yet finalized.

Also, a permanent roundabout would be installed. If the beach parking lot is full, there will be gates closing off the lot and drivers would be directed to the main westbound lane that feeds into the roundabout. The roundabout, in turn, would feed into the exit lane from the county park and redirect drivers to the eastbound lane of Dune Road.

Ms. Larsen contends that the project has not gone through the proper review channels, including being studied by Suffolk County Council for Environmental Quality. She explained that whenever capital funds are earmarked for a county project, that agency must review the blueprints. The council has not yet examined the project, said Catherine Stark, a legislative aide for Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman,

John Pavacic, the commissioner of Suffolk County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, said the county has not yet completed its environmental review of the work, as required by New York State. He explained that county officials are waiting for Brookhaven Town to review the project first because Cupsogue Beach falls in that town’s Coastal Erosion Hazard Area and, therefore, must be examined.

Brookhaven Town officials have not yet studied the project, and it is not clear when they would make a decision on the work, said Kevin Molloy, a spokesman for the town.

Ms. Stark explained that Suffolk County cannot do anything—including holding public hearings on the proposed road work—until West Hampton Dunes secures all of the required property easements. Once that is done, the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality will be asked to review the proposal, she said.

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They wrote: "Traffic on the two-lane road leading to the park has worsened over the past decade, as more and more homes have popped up along Dune Road, according to some residents."

If you live on Dune Road you aren't going to Cupsogue! These are not residents of WHB, Quiogue, etc (for the most part). These are Suffolk people w/ green keys
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 11, 09 10:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
That's tough luck on Mr. O’Brien's part. My family lost property to Emminent Domain when they reconstructed the curve on Montauk Hwy. in the late 80's.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 12, 09 9:21 AM
So what? They're not entitled to enjoy a Suffolk County beach? Just a little elitist, aren't you?! It's not like they're asking to swim in your private pool, Hambone.
By barnbabe (64), westhampton beach on Nov 12, 09 11:41 AM
Elitism has nothing to do with it. I am merely pointing out the fallacy of the argument. The "new homes" on Dune road are Westhampton Dune homes not Westhampton beach homes. Don't you get the irony that for the WH Dunes folks to have access it in effect re-opened Cupsoge. if there is elitism it's the WHD folks who want access but want to limit (I won't say deny) access to green key persons.

PA write again if you need me to type slower so you get it
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 12, 09 10:49 PM
yes but then the construction company couldn't make $300k. of course, putting the traffic circle inside the existing parking lot is also impossible because it would be far too inexpensive.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Nov 16, 09 7:18 PM
For the past several summers a "Cupsogue Beach LOT FULL" sign has been posted when the lot is full. The sign is located on the side of the road as you come over the Jessup Bridge. If you ask the parks employees they will tell you that most patrons admit to reading the sign but say "We came a long way and wanted to take a shot at it.” I have taken this chance myself on a few occasions and sometimes I get in and sometimes I have to turn around. Expanding this portion of the road seems to be in ...more
By George V (3), Westhampton on Nov 20, 09 7:09 PM