It took workers from Davis House Movers just a couple hours Wednesday afternoon to move the former Galley Ho restaurant in New Suffolk onto its new pilings from the cribbing where it has stood since it was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, a non-profit that owns the site of the former Goldsmith & Tuthill Boatyard, plans to renovate the Galley Ho and reopen at some point next year, said New Suffolk Waterfront Fund member Barbara Butterworth, who was on-hand to watch the move with Waterfront Fund members Barbara Schnitzler, Pat McIntyre and Shannon Simon.
Ms. Butterworth said the Waterfront Fund has not yet found a restaurateur to run the new Galley Ho, and has not yet decided on what kind of food service will be offered there.
The weathered gray barn next to the Galley Ho will likely be given away and taken to another site, the board members said.
The project has generated a good deal of public controversy in the tiny hamlet of New Suffolk, where many residents had hoped to see the site preserved. It has also drawn stark criticism from the New Suffolk Civic Association, which formed the Waterfront Fund a decade ago in an attempt to keep the waterfront site in the hands of the community.
The project was approved by the Southold Town Planning Board last November, and neighbors sued the planning board and the Waterfront Fund shortly thereafter, claiming the approval was in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act. That litigation has not yet been resolved.
New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau representative Liz Volt said that her office has received complaints about the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund’s use of their non-profit status to rebuild the restaurant, but would not comment on the number of complaints or whether they were being investigated.
In mid-March, the Civic Association sent a letter to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone asking the county to step in and examine the impact the project will have on the Peconic Estuary, and urged their members to also send letters to the county.
“The Waterfront Fund is determined to build this out to the maximum allowable size, which will introduce significant pollution into an already overburdened and threatened resource,” the civic association wrote in their letter. “Our bay and surrounding creeks are being shut down at an alarming rate due to commercial and residential pollution. The addition of a sixty six seat restaurant in such close proximity to the waterfront is going to be a further insult.”
“By the process of sending all of our residents a questionnaire, the Civic Association found that the majority favored a small scale café style operation,” they added. “The Waterfront Fund, who professed to want to do what the community wanted is no longer interested in hearing us. They are now just marching on with their plans for the large scale operation. We fear, that with the current required septic system, that the pollution stream will be in the bay in no time due to the permeability of the ground.”
The full text of the Civic Association’s letter is online here.