Southampton Town may be considering allowing a restaurant to open up in the old Neptune Beach Club on Dune Road in Hampton Bays.
The town has been considering purchasing the 2.8 acre property on the ocean for preservation using Community Preservation Fund money, but Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at Tuesday’s town board meeting that she’s discussing the possibility of a restaurant opening there with other restaurant owners and Chambers of Commerce in town.
Ms. Throne-Holst said that, if a restaurant were to open there, the town would consider an alternate funding source for at least part of the $3.25 million purchase, since a restaurant is not allowed on property purchased through the CPF fund.
Sadie Mitnick, who represents the owners of a property near the beach club, said the neighborhood has been dealing with “drunks and drugged out people falling in our pools” for years.
“It’s not to be believed on a Saturday night,” she said. She urged the town to not let another business open there.
Robin Eshaghpour, who lives at the property closest to the night club, said he thinks the town has been spending a great deal of money providing police services to keep the club in line.
“I’ve seen as many as eight police cars and 12 men out there, as almost like a private security to keep this place under some sort of control while they are in there making this money and they’re not being responsible,” he said. “It’s a bargain. You’re going to buy the property and eliminate this problem all together. Once you purchase it, I think it needs to be sterilized for a period of time. I’d like to see it as a preserve, planted with bayberries.”
Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said the property had been a Coast Guard station, one of the few staffed by African American servicemen during World War II, and was also a key component of the town’s south shore estuary system.
“Under the CPF, we’re not allowed to purchase the property because it’s a nuisance,” she said, adding that historic preservation and environmental preservation are fair reasons to buy property through the CPF.
“We can make a decision without it being a nuisance issue,” she said.
Ms. Throne-Holst said other restaurants on Dune Road, like Dockers and Oaklands, have been able to operate peacefully without being a nuisance to the community. She said she’d like to continue to discuss the possibility of a restaurant there with members of the industry.
“I would like to hold this conversation over for another meeting, with the assurance that we would move forward with some form of preservation and change of use,” she said.
The town board will again discuss the matter at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming’s initiative to prohibit members of the town’s three major land use boards from serving as officers on political committees was defeated in a 2-2 vote. Councilman Chris Nuzzi did not attend the meeting. Ms. Fleming and Ms. Throne-Holst voted for the proposition and Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Jim Malone both voted against it.
In casting her vote, Ms. Scalera read an impassioned statement saying that she believed Ms. Fleming’s attempt to enact the legislation was disingenuous because Ms. Fleming recently pointed to her ethics reform efforts in a campaign advertisement for the Democrats running for town board.
“Even the sponsor’s participation is a political stunt,” she said.
Ms. Fleming said she participated in the advertisement to point out that Republicans on the board had not even allowed a public hearing on the proposal until after the election.
The public hearing was finally held Tuesday, and several Democrats who had spoke in favor of it in the past again echoed their support for the bill.
George Lynch of Quiogue, who serves on the town’s Democratic committee, said he had initially taken umbrage at Mr. Nuzzi for chastizing him for not mentioning he was a party officer when he made his comments last month. But, after later reflection, Mr. Lynch said he thought it spoke highly of his own character that, as a party officer, he wanted to keep party officers from serving on the town’s land use boards.
He said, if he were another person who was questioning his own motives, he’d have thought, ‘what motivation can he possibly have except to make government better?’
Nancy Mullen of Quogue said she briefly considered whether it mattered if the reform was passed, since the board will have a Democratic majority in January and can then stack the land use boards with members of their own political pursuasion. But, she said, she resisted that urge.
“It is important for people to believe in the fairness of these boards,” she said. “I hope you all will adopt Bridget’s resolution and do the right thing.”
In casting his deciding vote against the measure, Mr. Malone said he was afraid it would discourage people from public service.
“We see 30 percent voter turnout and we only get 50-60 percent when a president is running,” he said. “Anything we can do to encourage people to be involved is a good thing to do.”