Southold Town has decided to let the Mighty North Fork Triathlon go on after all, after the town board initially denied the 16th annual event last month because it didn’t comply with the town’s new code provisions that only allow not-for-profit events on town roads.
Southold has been cutting back on the number of events allowed on its roads due to the congestion they create and to the burden on town resources. Southold has also been sued in the past by bicycle riders who have gotten hurt on town roads. The Mighty North Fork Triathlon has agreed to provide a $2 million certificate of insurance naming Southold Town as additionally insured.
The town board made the about-face in approving the triathlon after its organizers, EventPowerLI, agreed to donate up to $10,000 to Community Action Southold Town, a food pantry and support center for low-income families in Greenport.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell cast the only vote against the proposal on the evening of May 6, saying that he believes the town adopted its events policy for a reason. Councilman Bill Ruland abstained from voting because his wife sits on the board of CAST.
“Southold is a very wonderful community to hold events in, but the sponge is full,” said Mr. Russell. “There’s only so many we can accommodate.”
The triathlon will be held July 13 at Cedar Beach Park in Southold and on roads in the Bayview section of Southold surrounding the park. It includes a 500 meter swim, an 8-mile bike ride and a 3.5-mile run.
The board also agreed on May 6 to spend up to $31,000 to revamp its four-year-old Environmental Impact Statement on shortening the jetty on the west side of Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic.
The jetty has been the subject of an intense, decades-long debate between neighbors to the west who don’t want to loose the sand in front of their houses and neighbors to the east who believe the jetty is causing the erosion in front of their homes.
A previous town board spent about $70,000 on the EIS and then never adopted it, and board members say it will now need to be updated before it can be adopted.
Marissa Cardinale, who lives to the west of the jetty, told the town board on May 6 that she doesn’t think studies have shown that shortening the jetty will help neighbors to the east.
Calling their complaints an “echo chamber,” she said that people to the east of the jetty “just repeat the same information they really believe and have been telling each other, but not what scientific experts believe.”
Susan Geitz, whose family has lived on Leeton Drive to the east of the jetty for 60 years, said “you can do studies until the cows come home. The fact is when they put up that jetty, we lost our beach.”
Ms. Geitz said that a helicopter looking for a boater lost in the sound over this past weekend couldn’t land near her house because the shoreline has eroded so badly.
“There’s 18 inches of water at our bulkhead,” she said. “They have a football field from their houses to the water…. We’re in trouble now. The Army Core of Engineers said it’s affecting all the way around to Hashamomuck Cove…. The fact is, our beach is gone and they’re gaining.”
Town Attorney Martin Finnegan said the town has already made a significant investment in the environmental review, and it should be completed.
“There are people that have differing views than you have,” he said to Ms. Cardinale. “The town board is considering everyone’s views.”