If you walk down Second Street in New Suffolk this time of year, you’ll be treated to a quiet neighborhood that dead ends with a view of the Peconic Bay. But in the summer, this quiet street turns into a war zone, filled with beachgoers laden with chairs and picnic baskets who disregard traffic laws, pickup trucks with empty boat trailers searching for a place to park, near-fisticuffs between boaters jockeying for use of the only town boat ramp west of Southold and sadistic parents who leave dirty diapers lying around on peoples’ front lawns.
Earlier this year, the folks who live on Second Street between First and Jackson streets asked the Southold Town Board to look into banning parking on their block. They were the stars of the show at Southold’s town board meeting this week [primarily because not much else was happening other than the return of Cutchogue resident Benja Schwartz, who wanted to talk about deer ticks].
Joe Polashock, who lives on the corner of Second and Jackson streets, told the board his neighbors have thought about their parking ban request and decided they really only need to ban parking between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“I jumped the gun on asking for just blanket ‘no parking.’ I don’t want to be putting that much burden on the system,” he told the town board at Tuesday’s public hearing. “All the people involved would be very happy if we could have no parking seasonally instead of all year.”
“Not to be elitist, snobby or in our own little world, but people are very inconsiderate,” he added. “I wouldn’t even mention some of the stuff I have to pick up, from soiled diapers and beyond. I don’t want to be like that but people push you into these situations.”
But the folks who run Legends restaurant a block up and over on First Street were concerned that more regulations would just push more cars into their neighborhood during the season when New Suffolk is jammed full of people who don’t live there and don’t have stickers to use the town beach.
“Parking on the bottom of First Street by the post office is already restricted,” said Diane Harkoff of Legends. “It just feels like the walls are closing in. As a business owner that concerns me.”
Councilwoman Jill Doherty wondered if part of a large field next to the parking lot for the New Suffolk Beach could be used for parking.
Town Board member Chris Talbot thought he had a better idea: build a parking garage over the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund’s community garden, across the street from Legends.
“We could grade it so the vegetables could still grow,” he said.
Shannon Simon, who runs the Waterfront Fund’s community garden and lives on Second Street, ignored Mr. Talbot’s crack.
“I think our serious concern is not just that it’s convenient or inconvenient. It’s about safety,” she said, adding that emergency vehicles can’t get down her street in the summer and the truck that delivers mail to the New Suffolk Post Office, which usually uses Second Street, can’t use her street in the summer.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he understood the dynamics of the neighborhood and was relieved that notoriously free-thinking New Suffolkers were talking about parking and not about secession.
“You happen to have two of the town’s nicest assets in New Suffolk — the best beach and the best boat ramp. There’s only so much capacity you can get from either of those assets,” he said. “We were concerned you were going to raise your own militia and secede from the town.”
The board tabled the proposal and will revisit it in two weeks after the seasonal language is added.