Southampton Town and Suffolk County are looking to begin work on a change to the traffic pattern at the Riverside traffic circle next year, and, as of this week, they’re two-thirds of the way along in a complicated series of steps to change the land use around the circle in order to redesign the circle.
The new circle would be elongated and shaped more like an egg, with two lanes of traffic entering and exiting the circle, as now happens at the intersection of Roanoke Avenue and Route 58 in Riverhead after the county widened Route 58 several years ago.
The county plans to use 3,000 square feet of town parkland in the northwest corner of the intersection to elongate the circle, and will give the town 8,000 square feet of county land just to the west of the town’s property, backing up to the Peconic River behind the Peconic Paddler’s shop.
But the town purchased its parkland on the edge of the circle using Community Preservation Fund money for open space, and the process to remove the property from the town’s protected open space rolls is complex.
Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray briefed the Southampton Town Board on the project at a public hearing Aug. 12. First, she said, the state legislature had to approve the so-called alienation of parkland, which they did earlier this summer.
The Aug. 12 public hearing was the second step in the land swap, which needed to be approved by a supermajority of the town board. Next, a mandatory public hearing will held in conjunction with the general election on Nov. 4.
“This traffic circle is at the epicenter of the revitalization efforts we’re working on at the moment,” said Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who added that the town could use the county’s piece of land to as part of that redevelopment effort.
Councilman Brad Bender of Northampton agreed.
“I think this is a big win for the Riverside community and also a win for the whole community,” he said. “Thank you so much Kathleen.”
State Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s assistant, Laura Stephenson, agreed.
“Our office is very involved with discussions about the potential options and alienation of parkland,” she said, adding that it took Mr. Thiele and State Senator Kenneth LaValle just one month to get the bill to alienate the parkland passed in Albany.
“That’s unheard of,” she said.
A Safer Route to HB School
The board also agreed to codify the Hampton Bays School District’s longstanding policy of not allowing left turns out of the district’s elementary and middle school driveways between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 2 and 4 p.m. on school days.
Hampton Bays School District Safety Director John Moran said the restrictions are in place to curb gridlock among parents who drop their kids off and make it safer for kids who walk to school.
“It’s a minor inconvenience at times but the needs of the many are served,” he said. “First and foremost, this is a safety measure for kids that do walk. The delays are minor and pale in comparison to the safety issue.”
In Other News…
Also at Southampton’s Aug. 12 meeting, the board agreed to clean up a property in foreclosure at 215 Long Neck Boulevard in Flanders and attach a bill for the clean-up to the property owner’s tax bill.
George Lynch of Quiogue also spoke up about a recent letter to the editor from County Legislator Jay Schneiderman suggesting that businesses charge a ten cent impact fee to people who want to use single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, in lieu of the town banning the bags outright.
“I know he’s got good ideas for the proceeds, but people are going to view this as a tax and to some degree they’d be right,” he said. “Why do we tax the people for something we’d achieve more effectively if we don’t tax people?”
Also, Maude Pollock of Hampton Bays questioned why only one person returned their compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain small amounts of mercury, to a box she and her friend Stephen Storch left at town hall for recycling several weeks ago.
The town board also set Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. as the date for the town’s annual Anti-Bias Task Force CommUNITY picnic at Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays.
“This is a free picnic for the whole community,” said Councilman Brad Bender. “Everyone is invited.”
More information on the picnic is available online here.
The architect hired to design Hampton Bays’ Good Ground Park also presented the design of the park to the Hampton Bays community on Aug. 12. The designs are available for the public to view online here.