A month after Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter offhandedly announced at a meeting that the town is about to conduct a rural corridor study of Route 25 from Aquebogue to Laurel, those who care about that stretch of highway say the study “might close the barn door…but only after the cows have gone.”
Save Main Road director Larry Simms, who spoke about his concerns about the study at a special meeting of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association on Saturday, said in a statement this week that, while advocates for the rural stretch of road “appreciated the interest and opportunity, and took the request seriously,” to their surprise, ” the study was announced as accomplished fact before we could even respond.”
“It boils down to the supervisor telling the community: “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you!” he added.
In a letter to the town signed by leaders of Save Main Road, The Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, Group for the East End and the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, advocates said they “continue to weigh the pros and cons of a rural corridor study. What we find most abundantly clear, and of greatest import, is that any such study would conclude too late to affect two large projects now poised to forever alter the hamlet center of Jamesport.”
Those projects include the proposed Jamesport Commons shopping center on the north side of Route 25 across from the Elbow Room, and the expansion of the Jamesport Center shopping center toward Washington Avenue.
The Jamesport Center expansion proposal would be 30,000 square feet and the Jamesport Commons proposal would be 42,000 square feet.
In their letter, the community leaders asked the town that a single State Environmental Quality Review Act study be performed for both of the development projects.
They asked the town board to pass a resolution that, “due to their size, timing and relative proximity, these two projects must be evaluated in terms of their collective impact on the community.”
Save Main Road added that evaluating the two major projects together would deliver better information more quickly, at a significant cost savings to both property owners.
According to Save Main Road, at Saturday’s civic meeting, “there was broad consensus that the best protection for the rural corridor lies in uniform and consistent enforcement of the laws we have, not in “blue sky promises” of laws not yet written.”
“We’ve appealed to the town board to shelve its plan to move forward on a study we think ill-timed and perhaps misguided, and which we don’t want,” they added. “We hope that our elected representatives instead choose to engage us in serious, detailed, and open-minded discussions on how to guide and control development in our community.”